Over a month long trip, I realized that there’s more to life in Spiti than initially meets the eye. Slow down, and find out for yourself.
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.
In the shade of my Stupa, the strong wind feels icy cold and forces me to wear the cowl of my sweatshirt. Life in Spiti is baffling that way. You can be melting under the sun and shivering in the shade, simultaneously. To distract myself from my hot-cold battle, I look towards the only part of Kaza (Spiti’s administrative capital) that is soothingly green.
The only crops that can survive the harsh desert climate are barley and peas. Since it’s spring turning into summer, the shores are filled with green grass and yellow barley. Occasionally interspersed with white, blue, pink and purple flowers.
An old lady stops by my spot, carrying an adorable little girl wrapped in a shawl on her back. She curiously asks me where I’m from and what I’m doing away from the market of Kaza, that is always bustling at this hour of the evening.
She smiles when I tell her that I love this green isolation, and invites me to walk with her to her little garden. I am surprised; a garden in this cold mountain desert is unfathomable.
Also read: I Love Spiti: A Campaign to Save Spiti Valley from Single Use Plastic
My unsure steps lead me down a slope on a side of the river that’s easy to miss. I pinch myself as I see a row of leafy trees growing tall in Kaza’s dry desert soil.
The old lady, amused by my wonder, tells me that the trees don’t bare fruit and the soil is not that nurturing. Yet she spends the effort to grow them in that small piece of land she calls her garden.
The aggressive waters of the Spiti River destroyed the shrubs multiple times, but each year she persevered again. She loves trees, she says, and they’re so rare in this part of the world, she chose to grow her own at the cost of no fruits.
Now each evening, she waters them and lets her grand-daughter play in their oxygen-rich shade. She’s spent her whole life in Kaza and seen it transform from half a dozen mud houses to a land of concrete. But the garden remains for her family to cherish, and for the occasional visitor like me.
I walk with her from one end to another, as she carefully treads on the soil and ensures that every inch is sufficiently watered. I’ve been smiling to myself in sub-conscious appreciation of this other side to life in Spiti the entire time.
By now, the sun has dipped below the peak, coloring the sky orange. I wave a little goodbye and start to make my way back, past the patch of yellow that reminds me of Sting’s fields of gold.
I glance over my shoulder to see Kaza’s garden lady hard at work with her trees. A sight that I’m carrying with me since, in the brown little town of Kaza.
Also read: An Unexpected Introduction to Spiti Travel
Have you experienced life in Spiti?
10 Offbeat Things to do in Spiti Valley
Komic Monastery: The Legend of Moving Monasteries in Spiti
Hitchhiking on my First Solo Trip to Spiti Valley
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, instagrammer, social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes in the transformative power of travel.
Incredible–thanks for sharing. And what a treat for the gardener to share her secret garden with you. Just shows that nature can link and bind us all, if we take the time to stop and wonder together. And then you continued and shared the encounter with all of us. Cool.
Thanks Patti 🙂 It was indeed an honor to be invited into a secret garden. It reminded me of Enid Blyton books on a certain level 🙂
This is brilliant – thanks for sharing this wonderful experience with us
Thanks, and welcome to The Shooting Star. Hope you’ll continue to join me virtually on my travels 🙂
Great imagery here. It amazing a simple garden can create such a powerful link. How lucky you were to be invited into someone’s passion.
Thanks Suzy, it was a beautiful link 🙂
I have been to Spiti River. It’s amazing and hope one more visit there if get time and opportunity.
Anyway your blog is looking great.
Thanks Nature Wonder 🙂 Hope you get the opportunity to visit it again, though I can’t promise it’ll be as pristine as you last saw it.
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Beautiful…a hidden corner and wonder discovered by chance. My friends and I sat by the Spiti river and walked along the shores very often, so it’s nice to be able to add this place to my mental map of Kaza, although I didn’t see it 🙂
thank you for sharing about this beautiful place
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Beautiful post, Shivya! I love these little snippets of conversation with locals that you share from your travels. 🙂
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