Tuesday, 14 April 2015

K for Keylong and all about Lahaul Spiti

This post is written as a part of A to Z Challenge

K for Keylong and all about Lahaul Spiti

“Surely the God live here, this is no place for men” – These were the words of Rudyard Kipling for Keylong.

Keylong situated on the banks of Bhaga river is the headquarter of the tribal and northernmost district of HP – Lahaul & Spiti district. At an altitude of 3350 m, reaching Keylong by road offers an experience in itself. The town is like an oasis as it rests between the white snow clad mountains and the brown barren mountains. 

View of Bhaga river
The road winds through serpentine bends on the gigantic mountains until Keylong is reached. The place has rivers, mountains and a beautiful landscape when compared to the drab landscape outside this valley.
Manali to Rohtang first stretch would be dense Deodar running along.
Travelling from Delhi or Chandigarh you cross through deciduous vegetation to long pines followed by dense Deodars giving way to stunted tundra vegetation and then cold desert to Rohtang. Finally you move down and stretches of vegetation again starts. The region is strange and exciting with primitive mountainous and delightful scenic stretches followed by vast barren cold deserts. 

Barren Mountains as you move towards Keylong

Enroute to keylong one passes over Rohtang Pass (3980 ml), Koksar (1st village of Lahaul) Sissu, Gondla and crossing the river Chandra Bhaga at Tandi.It is about 125 km from Manali, 188 km from Kaza, 373 km from Leh, 435 km from Chandigarh and 690 km from Delhi.
The route offers many such places where streams flow on road and you drive through it.

The peak travel season is during May and June when the pass just opens and a lot of tourists visit Rohtang pass. The time taken is 6 to 10 hours depending upon the condition of the road which sometimes becomes too slippery because of snowfall and traffic jam that occurs at Rohtang pass and Beas nallah near Marhi. 

Beas Nalla frozen in Aug

It is advisable to cross Rohtang pass before 8 am. 

Rohtang Pass

After crossing Rohtang pass 51 km from Manali, one has to descend almost the same distance. The area remains cut off from rest of world due to heavy winter snows for six months from November to June. Buses, Taxis are available from Manali in season. HPTDC also plies regular coaches to Leh via Keylong during July - September. Nearest airport is Bhunter, 175 km from Keylong. The place has the highest population in the region and also has a market.

Once in Keylong you can spend your time peacefully. Places of visit are more of Buddhism oriented. one can spend some time on the following :

TANDI (2573m) : 8 km, short of Keylong, on the Manali - Leh Raod, situated on the confluence of Chandra & Bhaga rivers. Last point to tank up if traveling north of Keylong as it has the last fuel station on this stretch.

SISSU (3100m) : On the bank of Chandra, 15 km from Koksar, every spring and autumn wild geese and ducks halt here on their way to and from Siberia.


GONDLA (3110m) : 18 km from Keylong on the right bank of river Chandra. Famous for ancient Fort.

UDAIPUR (2523m) : 53 km from Keylong, home of the Mrikula Devi Temple, which is famous for wood carvings.

Mrikula Devi temple

TRILOKNATH (2660m) : 4 km from Udaipur famous for Triloknath temple. Sacred both for HIndu and Buddhist.

Triloki Nath temple
MONASTERY'S : Lahaul is well known for its monasteries, locally called Gompas, which are great repositories of Buddhist faith and art treasures. These are Kardang - 5 km the largest and most important monastery, Shasur - 3 km, Guru Ghantal - 8 km, Tayul - 6 km, Gemur - 18 km

SHOPPING : Shawls, Local Tweeds, Caps, Rugs, Footwear, Fresh fruit, Natural oil (olive and almond), Sliver jewellery, Pullovers, Metal craft, Woolen jackets and Bamboo products.

Don't miss to visit the Lahaul Spiti Tribal Museum in Keylong which showcases the customs and culture of the area.

Lahaul Spiti Tribal Museum

There is Rohtang tunnel coming up which would reduce the distance from Manali to Keylong by 50 kms and would also make Keylong accessible for the entire year. Due to the military significance of Leh-Manali highway and the need to keep it open the entire year, the Indian government has begun building the 8.5 km long horseshoe shaped Rohtang Tunnel which once completed would not require one to go to Rohtang pass for reaching Keylong..

The Lahaul Spiti has its own tribal culture and festivals. The area and the people are very lively and enjoy the life in their own way. Amongst the numerous festivals the tribal fair at Keylong is most important.


Tribal fair coinciding with Independence day is celebrated with great pomp and show from 14th to 16th August, at Keylong the headquarters of the district. People from all parts of the valley congregate in their queer disposition and a large number of Indian and foreign tourists gather here to witness the fair. It is being celebrated as at State level fair. In order to make the fair colourful , artists and cultural troupes are invited from Chandigarh, Dharamshala, Leh , Chamba, Kullu, Spiti in addition to local artistes.

The annual Lahaul festival is conducted in July in which the Buddhists and the locals participate. All the festivals have the Lamas and monks participation

ACTIVITIES: Trekking on Bara Sigri, the largest glacier of that district, Mountaineering, Hiking and bird watching: during the migratory season, in spring and autumn, birds like the Siberian Geese and duck come to Sissu. The place is also good for rock climbing, skiing and fishing.

And don't forget to see THE LADY OF KEYLONG : Lady of Keylong is a famous glacier, situated at an altitude of 6061 m above sea level. It was christened so by 'Lady Elashainghday' about a century ago, during the British rule.Throughout the year it remains snow covered. There is a dark bare patch seen in the center, which resembles the figure of a woman walking with a load on her back. The glacier can be seen clearly from Keylong.

Lady of Keylong Glacier as visible from Keylong

The city is the night halt point for tourists who are driving down to Leh - Ladakh through this route.

The road further from Keylong to Leh - Evening view at Patsio

That's All about Keylong. Tomorrow it would be L.

For other posts on Himachal written as part of Ato Z Challenge : List of post on Himachal Pradesh written as part of A to Z challenge.

Aditya Sinha

For other participants in the challenge visit : A to Z Challenge

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