Spiti – Where Gods Reside: Day-3

Day-3: Kalpa – Reckong Peo – Powari – Ribba – Morang – Labrang – Spello – Poo – Khab – Yangthang – Nako – Chango – Sumdo – Hurling – Lari – Tabo
Highlights of the Day: 

1. Crossing the Malling Nullah, which eventually turned out to be not much of a hassle.
2. Visiting the beautiful and serene Nako village and the wonderful Nako Lake.
3. Paying a visit to the beautiful Tabo Monastery.
4. Undoubtedly, riding through the Hindustan – Tibet route (NH-22, as it is known now)

As a result of last night’s late dinner, we were running a little behind schedule. Up until now, we used to ride from 7am to 4pm or so, but this morning we were late. We wiped off the bike of the massive amount of slack and dirt that the machines had gathered, thanks to Jaypee. We lubed the drive-chains, clicked a few photographs of the local children who were watching curiously as we lubed the chain and cleaned the respective machines.

A local going about his daily work.

A local going about his daily work.

Local kid, enjoying and posing!

Local kid, enjoying and posing!

 

By 0800hrs. we were on the road, going downhill towards Peo, where DCS wanted to enquire about the RVM of Karizma, which he had lost at the entrance of the Kinnaur Valley. To our amazement we did not find even a single Hero Honda showroom/ service station in the whole of Peo. We were also unable to locate any mechanic shop where we could find the missing RVM. Eventually, we let off our search and moved even downwards towards the road to our next destination for the night – Tabo.

Encountered quite a few BRO bulldozers at work, clearing rocks and boulders off the road..

Encountered quite a few BRO bulldozers at work, clearing rocks and boulders off the road..

The kind of bridges and waterfalls we encountered time and again in this whole trip.

The kind of bridges and waterfalls we encountered time and again in this whole trip.

 

We had not eaten anything since morning, and hence we stopped at a small village called ‘Spello’ enroute Tabo. It was a lovely, little village unlike any that we get to see in other parts of India. The landscapes were getting arid as we moved forward. It became progressively more desolate and devoid of vegetation. Yet, somehow it was full of grandeur and a unique beauty. The exposed rocks and bare hillsides were a mosaic of different hues. Against the azure sky, the starkness of the scenery stood out clear and proud, and the pure, rarefied atmosphere made for a fitting accompaniment. Enroute, our vehicle details, and personal details were entered at two places, namely, a place near Pooh and then again at Jangi (if I remember correctly).

The whole ride was pretty uneventful. However, I was pretty skeptical about crossing the Malling Nullah, which turned out to be not much of a hassle in the end. The Malling Nullah ‘problem’ has been solved for one and all vehicular traffic heading upto Spiti Valley. The alternate route from Nako to Chango has been opened for vehicular traffic. But, it is not all smooth. DCS was the first to cross the Malling. I could see the exhaust of his Karizma fully submerged in the water for a second or two which made me a little nervous. I kept the machine in the torque zone and waded through. Fortunately, the exahust of my P-200 did not ‘drown’

Malling Nullah

Malling Nullah

 

Thanks largely to OF (Old Fox) who had motivated us to do this ride time and time again, by talking to me over the phone at length about the whole plan, as well as warning about the Malling and how actually to cross such Nullahs. Thank you OF for all the pointers that you had provided. They helped a lot during the whole trip. 

The kind of roads we were riding most of the time during this whole ride.

The kind of roads we were riding most of the time during this whole ride.

 

We reached Nako during the afternoon where we took a nice, long tea break and also took some considerable amount of time to go and visit the Nako Lake, which is located at an altitude of 12,500 feet above MSL. It is a beautiful lake, which is surrounded by the Nako village on both the sides. For the uninitiated, the Nako lake is an high altitude lake that is located in the Pooh sub-division of the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. There are a few Buddhist temples near the lake. Although there is also a monastery here, but we didn’t quite have the time.

Nako Lake

Nako Lake

Bird's eye view of the Nako village.

Bird's eye view of the Nako village.

 

Nako is a small village located at an altitude of 12,000 feet and is the highest village in the valley. Nako is dotted with atleast seven temples which belong to different time periods, including a monastic complex.  If you want to stay at Nako, there are ample guest houses where you can. The stay here can also acclematize you for your stay in high altitude places like Kaza or perhaps even Kibber!

Nako.

Nako.

 

After visiting Nako, and soaking in the view of the adjoining areas, we moved ahead towards Tabo.The Hindustan-Tibet road (which is now known as NH-22) is really a good piece of tarmac which winds it’s way to the top to Nako, and then down towards Sumdo where we leave the NH-22 and take the state highway which winds it’s way towards Tabo, which was to be our destination for the night.

From Sumdo, the ride to Tabo was through a narrow gorge along the Spiti River. From Tabo onwards, the valley starts to open up with brown, ochre and dn slopes on the two sides which provide a really grand view of the mountains. Finally, we reached Tabo by the evening, and what a place it turned out to be. Tabo is located on the left bank of Spiti River at an altitude of about 3050 metres. We stayed at a guest house called ‘Trojan Guest House’, for Rs.200/- a night. Late evening, we went and paid a visit to the monastery at Tabo, and chatted with the people present there (Indians and Foreginers, both). 

Enroute Tabo

Enroute Tabo

Enroute Tabo.

Enroute Tabo.

Enroute Tabo - a straight stretch after hundreds of kilometres of hilly roads.

Enroute Tabo - a straight stretch after hundreds of kilometres of hilly roads.

 

A little piece of information that I would like to mention here is that Tabo has the largest monastery complex of the Buddhist religion. This has also been declared as a protected monument. Tabo monastery has sculptures, stucco images and wall paitings which are very similar to the Ajanta Ellora caves. Photography is strictly prohibited INSIDE the monastery. Hence, I could only describe in mere words what I saw and felt. 

Information on the Tabo Monastery:
The biggest attraction of the village of Tabo, for that matter of the whole valley, is the Tabo monastery, called Chogs-hkhor (‘doctrinal circle’ or ‘doctrinal enclave’). It is a complex that holds nine temples, 23 chortens, a monks’ chamber and an extension that houses the nuns chamber. On the sheer cliff-face above the enclave are a series of caves which were used as dwellings by the monks and includes an ‘assembly hall’. Faint traces of the paintings that once embellished the rock face can be discerned. 

Even today, Tabo holds the distinction of being the largest monastic complex in Spiti Valley. Constructed back in 996 AD, Tabo was the brainchild of the great translator and teacher, Rinchensang Po. Tabo is famous for its exquisite murals and stucco sculptures which bear a striking resemblance with the paintings and sculpture in the Ajanta caves. This is why Tabo has acquired the tide of ‘Himalayan Ajanta’. 

A few pictures of the Tabo monastery.

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Entrance to the Tabo Monastery.

Entrance to the Tabo Monastery.

The Prayer-wheels.

The Prayer-wheels.

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Evening at Tabo.

Evening at Tabo.

Locals at Tabo.

Locals at Tabo.

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We were tired by the whole day’s ride, and we fell asleep to the wonderful memories of the ride and the beautiful vistas that we had experienced in the whole ride today. Day-3 was one of the best rides that I personally had on this trip.

Next day’s ‘events’ were waiting for us. We were to take a detour of about 16 odd kilometres to visit one of the most beautiful places that mother Earth has to offer – the Pin Valley. 

We were also to ride to Kaza (our destination for the night, and the final destination for the ride to Spiti) and Kibber, the highest motorable village in the world, located at about 14,000 feet above sea level. AMS was waiting for us right ahead…

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