Lahaul: A Comprehensive Guide to an Overlooked Gem
23rd November 2019
I can’t find the words to describe what Lahaul is. No, really. I spent about 20 minutes staring at a blank screen thinking of how I could do justice to the beauty Lahaul is. But I finally gave up and decided to take an hour-long break to come up with at least a few comprehensible appropriate sentences. Still, nothing. So I’ve decided to just leave it as is. Lahaul is a subdivision of the Lahaul and Spiti District that stretches from Rohtang Pass till Baralacha La on one side and a little before Sach Pass on the other. Due to its remote location, Lahaul remains cut off from the rest of the world for the majority of the year due to heavy snow. Although the new all-weather Rohtang Tunnel was supposed to fix this problem, the opening of the tunnel remains behind schedule and the new opening date has now been shifted to September 2020 instead of December 2019. All I can tell you about the Lahaul is that it is often overlooked from a tourist’s point of view and whatever little tourism it receives, it receives because it falls right on the Manali- Leh Highway. Popular for lunch breaks, refuelling stops and night halts, not many go to Lahaul for just Lahaul. But I write this post with the hope that some might give this wonderland the chance it deserves.
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What's In Here
How to Reach Lahaul
Self-drive, shared sumo or ordinary HRTC buses are the only three methods of reaching Lahaul. And, of course, hitchhiking! If you plan to take the bus, be ready at Manali ISBT by 6 am. The bus to Udaipur or Darcha can leave any time after that. Shared sumos can be found up till 8 am, some times even later.
Popular Places to See in Lahaul
This is the first proper village in the district after Khoksar. The Plm Dhara Waterfall, Sissu Lake and Raja Ghepan Temple are the most popular things to do in Sissu. You can also visit the Gondhla Fort some 15 kilometres from Sissu.
Tandi is located right at the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga Rivers that meet and form the *drumroll…* Chandrabhaga River. The Guru Ghantal Gompa at Tupchiling village near Tandi is great for its views of the confluence. The monastery sits near the Drilbu Ri Peak, also known as Ghanta Parvat from where the monastery gets its name. Another monastery, Kardung Gompa can be seen sitting atop a hill from Tandi. There’s no motorable road to this monastery and one has to make a hike to get there.
This is the biggest town in the Lahaul district. The Shashur Gompa located near the town offers stunning views, and the Lady of Keylong- a mountain peak named after the formation of snow on it- is a sight to look at.
You will find several eating joints and guest houses here without difficulty. The Ghemur Gompa near Keylong is beautiful too, and the Devil Dance that takes place here every July is especially worth a visit.
Although Jispa was on my plan, I decided to deter from it (as often happens with me) and ended up staying a night extra in Tandi instead of Jispa. What I do know about this place, however, is that it is famous for its fishing and that a franchise of Moustache Hostelhas opened up here, making it the first and only backpacker’s hostel of the region. Jispa is also one of the last spots on this stretch with any greenery. Barren landscapes start to set from here on.
This beautiful little lake is one of the most beautiful spots on the Manali- Leh Highway. Situated just below Baralacha La, this high altitude crystal blue lake is where the River Bhaga originates from.
Udaipur is a relatively bigger town-village most popular for being a pilgrimage site for the Triloknath Temple that is equally important for both Hindus and Buddhists alike. Another temple dedicated to Markula Devi is significant for its historical wood carvings and a silver idol of Goddess Kali in her form as Mahishasurmardini.
ATMs in Lahaul
The only ATM in all of Lahaul is at Keylong. So ensure you have enough cash handy. Nearby ATMs from Lahaul are in Manali, Kaza and Leh.
Mobile Connectivity in Lahaul
Although only BSNL used to work in this region, just 3 weeks before I visited in September, Jio became functional in most of Lahaul with an intermittent 3G Internet network- which I was extremely surprised and excited to see!
Petrol Pumps in Lahaul
The only petrol pump in Lahaul is at Tandi. Other pumps nearby include Manali, Kaza and Karu (Leh).
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A twenty-something solo adventurer, Avantika finds comfort in learning about various cultures, its people and listening to age-old folk tales. When not on the road, she can be found cuddled up with her dog in her room, with a book in her hand.