My summer of volunteer in Spiti leads me to a nunnery in the Morang village of the valley, in the backdrop of snow-hooded Himalayas and on the shore of the Spiti River. To conceptualize a new volunteer program for Ecosphere, the organization I’m volunteering with, I’m spending an evening with a nun to learn about her life. I’m a little anxious; the closest I’ve been to a nunnery is in the wanderings of my curious mind, and the last thing I want to do is cross the thin line into insensitivity.
This article was originally published on Offbeat Travel. I’m fascinated as Tenzing describes a mystery mountain close to his hometown in Spiti. He’s my first local friend, and the expert driver who we’ve entrusted with our lives, up the precarious mountain roads from Shimla to Spiti.
I wrote this travelogue for exclusive publication on Clay, Club Mahindra’s travel portal. As I walk along the green fields of Pin, I smile in delight at the pink, purple and yellow flowers in bloom; I haven’t seen greenery for the last 3 days in the mountain desert terrain of Spiti.
In a country of 28 states, each with its signature culture, food, language, history & landscape, it’s not easy for a traveler to scratch the tourism surface of India beyond the golden triangle. The need of the hour, as recognized by Indian Tourism, UNDP and a string of social entrepreneurs, is to develop sustainable, responsible travel initiatives in high-potential regions of rural India.
Climb with me to the mountains on the roof of the world. I’ll walk you by gushing rivers. I’ll show you curious summits staring starry skies. I’ll float you to the depths of ancient seas. I’ll take you to the world’s highest inhabited villages. I’ll enchant you with blue streams in deep gorges. Won’t you come with me on a journey through Spiti, the most breathtaking valley in the north of India? 1. Mountain ropeway at Chichum. This is literally breath-taking. As an alternative to the long uphill walk from the village of Kibber to Chichum, the locals built an ingenious ropeway between two mountain peaks, over a deep gorge. The small open box on the pulley is used to transport men, cattle and raw materials, has no weight limits, and can’t be kind to your shoulders, though if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone on the other end to pull your ropes. The ropeway was built 5 years ago, and it has never yet collapsed. This local engineering feat is worth a ride for the …
I sit by a Stupa on an elevation above the shore of the Spiti River, shielding myself from the sun. It’ll be a good fifteen minutes before the ball of fire sinks behind the mountain range and relieves human skins. Such penetrating sun rays would make a great premise for a sunscreen advert, I muse.
Spiti is a land of legends. Every mountain peak and rock formation has a story lurking behind it, handed down by generations of Spitians. The most fascinating of them is one I heard from a local friend, of a mountain peak which changes colors a few times a day, reflecting the mood of the deity that inhabits it.
In the desert mountain landscape of the Trans-Himalayas, it’s easy to forget the color green. On my way to Komic, the highest inhabited village in the Himalayas, the unassuming village of Lhangza enchants me. Blue, green, brown and white are the predominant colors; the foremost of the clear sky, the latter three alternating among the bare, snow-capped & surprisingly green mountains.
My summer of volunteer in Spiti leads me to a nunnery in the Morang village of the valley, in the backdrop of snow-hooded Himalayas and on the shore of the Spiti River.
I’m en route to Spiti and going through a “sometimes the journey is as beautiful as the destination” moment. The drive from Shimla to Kalpa can easily qualify the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh as the most beautiful state in India for a mountain lover.