Yangthang bus stop where I got off
Hotel Leo Purgiel at Nako
Lake at Nako (3662m/12,000ft) and Mt. Leo Purgyal (6791m/22,275ft)
14th April 2005 - Checked out from my hotel in Kalpa at 6:00am and took a bus to Rekong Peo and from there another Bus going to Kaza, at 7:30am. But I decided to stopover for a night at Nako, so my ticket was for Yangthang, an intermediate stop 7kms below Nako. Anna and another french lady, Muriel, too were on the same bus but headed for Tabo, beyond Yangthang.
The ride on the Indo-Tibetan Highway and the scenic views were awesome as the bus went along the deep valley of Sutlej river heading north; steep mountains rising on either side of the road. I got off at Yangthang a smallish outpost on the road, with just a few tea-shops & surprisingly a UCO Bank Branch (see pic left above). Nako is about 7kms and 1000feet above Yangthang. Luckily, I got a share Jeep returning to Nako, so I reached Nako at 2:30pm. The weather was becoming cold and foggy and it started snowing lightly, as I checked into the decent Hotel Leo Purgiel . See view of ploughed fields with fresh powdery snow, as seen from the window in my hotel room.
15th April 2005- Next morning took a walk around the Nako village, and visited the 11th century Gompa there. Pics of the Gompa entrance and the view of the Leo Purgyal range, with Nako village in foreground (below left).
At 9:30am checked out of hotel and started the trek downhill, via the steep foot path rather than the 7 km road. A local worker (pic below left) was kind enough to guide and show me a safe path down to Yangthang.
After the Bus started from Yangthang at Noon within 5 Kms we reached a major landslide area called 'Malling Nala' that the bus wouldn't be able to cross. The passengers had to get down and trek across the 1.5 kms of landslide stretch and catch a connecting bus on the other side. The picture below, I took looking back at the landslide part after crossing it. You can see my bus as a small speck standing on the other side (in the picture's upper right-hand corner).
The landscape and scenery in this Spiti region was devoid of any greenery, trees or grass, but full of stark rocky formations, as you can see in the several pictures on the left. The picture below shows the typical view from the road looking down into the ravine with Spiti river flowing far below.
Our Bus Stopped for lunch at Hurling
My bus reached Tabo at 4:30pm. Tabo is famous for the most important monastery of the Tibetan Buddhists built in AD 996 by the "The Great Translator" Ringchen Zangpo. I first checked into a decent room at the glass-fronted Millennium Monastic Guest House (pic left) for just Rs 150/- a day.
I learnt Anna and Muriel who had come directly to Tabo yesterday, were also staying in that GH, but they were attending a Prayer session at the Monastery Prayer Hall. The pic left below shows the Monastery's new Prayer Hall (center, yellow) and the Tabo Monastic School (right, white) Inside view of the modern Prayer Hall pic below:
The glacial hills around Tabo display stark, rocky, rainless, weather beaten face, as seen in pic left. This hill opposite Tabo village has caves known as Pho Gompa, that have ancient faded murals painted inside.
16th April 2005 - Next morning visited the main old Gompa which is a nine temple complex, all at ground level, built between 10th to 16rth century. The pic to the left and the one below that show some of these temples and chortens. A trainee monk took me around the various temple chambers, opening them and letting me see inside each. They had statues of various Buddhist Monks and also a huge collection of Tibetan Arts and Thangkas.
Enjoyed a sumptuous lunch of Tibetan soup and Chowmein served by the ever-smiling monk-chef who managed the GH kitchen, sitting in the sun in the back veranda of the Monastic GH facing the Hills. At 2:30pm checked and walked with the backpack to the main road bus stop to catch the bus to Kaza. Anna & Muriel too decided to catch that Kaza bus. However the bus came 2 hours late that day, at 4:30pm.
We reached Kaza at 6:30pm when it was very cold and getting pretty dark. Anna & Muriel went hunting for a suitable place for us to stay, while I watched over all our bags at the bazaar square. They were back in half-an-hour, and we all trekked up several narrow village paths in the dark, crossed a stream on a stone bridge and then clamoured up some more slopes to the Hill View Guest House (pic left, taken next morning); which turned out to be a very good place for us to stay, with a traditional 'chulha' heated room and a very friendly Kaza family running it. There were several foreigners already sitting in that heated family living-cum-dining room (see pics below and left).
17th April 2005 - Next morning, after breakfast, I went out of the Guest House to see the surrounding landscape and saw some amazing snow covered mountains all around (see pics below and in left margin, taken from the Hill View GH).
The owner of the GH, a very friendly local school master arranged a share jeep for Anna, Muriel and me to go up to visit Khibber and Ki Monasteries. The amazing pictures from Khibber and Ki require a separate web-page. However after returning from trip that I took a picture of my room in that Guest House (pic left) and some pictures of the owner-family running it. Those pictures are below and in left margin. You can see the GH owner, grand-daughter, daughter and wife (L to R) in the pic below.