mystic beauty of the Trans-Himalayan regions of Spiti (locally
pronounced as 'Piti' ), Lahaul, Ladakh and Tibet continue to leave
one and all speechless. The only audible sounds breaking through
the cold ice of this serene valley are those of the river water
crashing against the rocks, the howling of the wind and the
twitter of an occasional bird.
most rightly known as the 'Valley of Monasteries', forms one of
the Trans-Himalayan frontier regions of India on the north-west
with a population of 9591 in the area of 8,000 sq km.
Administratively, this valley forms the Spiti sub-division of
Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. It is bounded by
Ladakh region on the north, Lahaul sub-division and Kullu district
in the west and south-east respectively, and by Kinnuar district
on the eastern side. Spiti Valley is thus located in one of the
most elevated, harsh and inhospitable snow deserts, between
latitude 31*-35" and 33*-0" due north and longitude
77*-37" and 78*-35" due east in the Trans-Himalayan
region with perpetual aridity and extreme cold, where even time
seems to have frozen into stillness. Spiti region abounds in
fossils of primordial aquatic life, known as ammonites. This high
altitude desert and home to the endangered snow leopard presently
under study in the adjacent Pin Valley National Park.
climatic condition of the valley is similar to that of
Ladakh region, i.e. arid and arctic. The great Himalayan ranges
separate it the warm and humid region of Lahaul and Kullu.
valley is accessible to the outside world only in the fair weather
conditions during the summer. For rest of the year it remains
isolated as the roads to this region are disrupted due to thick
layers of snow.
situated at a higher altitude, it is quite wide and open,
yet very rugged and perilous, having geo-climatic conditions
similar to the upper region of Ladakh.
people are largely Buddhists and followers of the Geluk-pa sect.
They are warm and hospitable. Religion plays a major role in
everyday life as piles of mani stones, prayer flags and
strategically placed chortens testify. The repetition of the
mantra "Om mani padme hum" (literally, 'Behold the jewel
is in the lotus'), is constant; it is said to bring good fortune
and wash away all sins. A single crop of barley and buck wheat is
cultivated in a year -- which hardly suffices the requirement. The
people are therefore obliged to seek other vocations like rearing
of live stocks and other traditional symbiotic trading to earn
Tabo Monastery is living up to its age - old tradition of being a
learning centre by setting up a school that offers high level,
modern education to the young generation in the valley.