Travel is strange. When you see Udaipur sandwiched between Pir Pranjal ranges and Himalayan ranges in Lahaul, you ought to pass this statement. And as if this was not enough, you see a totally new meaning of Guru Ghantal standing right in front of you as the oldest monastery in Lahaul. It is only travel, which can make you go through wayward situations, especially when you visit the heavenly valley of Lahaul. I had shared with you the story of Chandratal of Lahaul Spiti district and this time let me take you on a trip into the world of Myths and wonders, into the Lahaul Valley. The Manali to Leh trip has been talked about many-a-times, however, this valley has not been talked much about or the travellers just hurriedly pass Lahaul to reach Leh-Ladakh.
The Road of Wry Humour
While taking a road trip from Manali via Rohtang pass the road signs would take you by surprise. Already these high altitude roads stir so many of emotions in you then boards saying, “On my Curve, check your nerve”, or “Drive on horsepower, not on Rum power”, comes as sardonic humour over your boozing enthusiasm. Interestingly, whoever told me about Rohtang pass also said to me that it is under construction. It took me 2-3 years to finally travel the road, and it was still under construction. I am sure by the time you take a trip there; construction work would yet be analogous! On the contrary, if you are lucky Rohtang tunnel would be completed by then and reaching Lahaul would be like a breeze.
But one thing is sure after knowing the legend of Rohtang pass; travellers would be enticed to take up this route.
The Legend of Flying Horse
From childhood, I had known only one flying horse, Maharana Pratap’s Chetak, but during my trip to Lahaul and Spiti, I came to know about one more flying horse.
I think everybody has heard about how severe the weather conditions are in Lahaul and Spiti through some source and Rohtang Pass is no different. But for Lahuali’s there is a reason for that strong and stormy winds of the road to Lahaul, and they tell a legend how Rohtang pass came into existence. The story tells lore about a mighty king name Gyapo Gyaser who rode a flying horse then. On one of his journeys, when he reached the Khoskar ranges, he whipped his horse with such a vigour that the mountains rived creating a route which you can guess must be. Yes, the gateway to Lahaul, the Rohtang pass. Amazingly, as per local belief, the tremendous speed of whip launched the billy winds here.
However, there is an eerie fact associated with its name. The meaning of Rohtang in Lahuali is Bhoti which means the ground of corpses. I guess, this pass on Pir Pranjal Range had been tough on many of the travellers.
Beyond Keylong and Sissu Waterfall
Going to Lahaul and not visiting Sissu Village on the banks of Chandra river is such a crime for a traveller. The village is famous for its enticing Sissu waterfall which is decorated by the emerald touch of nature and famed to be amongst the most beautiful waterfall. I completely agree with it. But falls are at many exotic places, why I say this village is not to miss, is for the fascinating view of Gyephang peak glacier. The people of Lahaul believe that it is the same peak where Lord Gyephang, their saviour lives.
Imagine the quaint village that is surrounded by the giant snow-laden mountains; adorned with mirror-like lake, meadows and garden fields and a sparkling waterfall. The address to your musings is Sissu village in Lahaul Valley. Truly, the countryside I want to buy a home in! I didn’t wish to go further, but dreams never become the destination, and I moved to Keylong, the capital of Lahaul and Spiti. But to taunt me, the green farm fields of Peas, turmeric, potato, cabbage, tomato and some others which I failed to identify, accompanied me.
The Simple people of Lahaul
Life in Lahaul is unusual. Here Shoes are made by the unique grass that helps the locals to walk in the snow. I mean for me it was totally amazing to see an older woman sitting and shaping them out. Would you believe that for your Beer you need to give credit to these Lahauli people? Unbelievable but true. As it is the only region in India where Hops is cultivated which is used to make Beer.
They are simple people so are their ways. I was lucky to go with a friend who had his relatives living in the region. In their tradition, the guests are supposed to make an offering to their deity before they proceed for refreshments. You are handed a beautiful brass bowl with a dough of Barley along with alcohol which is also made of Barley. First, you take three bits from the dough and throw it in the air and then through the leaf offer the alcohol in air three-time like an offering to God. I know this may sound odd, but it is their culture which keeps them intact even in tough times when they are cut off from the world for around six months due to the snowfall.
Moving further to Spiti Valley is a whole new adventure with its world of Myths and wonders. I close this blog with Lahaul this time and keep the other stories in store for the next one.