Bumping into a rare four-legged wild creature

The following is a page entry from On Road through the trans-Himalayas. To read complete travel memoirs and trip report, please visit here.

Colourful chortens at Tabo

Colourful chortens at Tabo

Chapter 6 of 22

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Afterward, the road climbed progressively and crossed village Nadang, Poh to reach village Shichling at 3460m where the valley opened itself up again from the gorge. At Poh we came across a group of local women who asked us to give lift to a lady and drop her at Kaza. We obviously had to agree. The limited number of state transport buses plying on the road, on such a terrain, seldom show up on time. Getting a local taxi is not always a possibility either. The lady turned out to be a professor of biology who taught at a local college in village Hansa. On the way, she gave us some interesting lowdown about local customs, traditions, festivals and treks.

View towards Tabo

View towards Tabo. For more photographs of the region, please visit bNomadic in Spiti

Landscape ahead; towards Poh

Landscape ahead; towards Needang. Visit bNomadic’s Flickr Photostream for more pics of the region

Cultivated fields of viilage Poh in the Sham region

Cultivated fields of Poh in the Sham region

On a stretch after Nadang, taking notice of falling stones on the road we stopped and parked the car at a safer location. I walked up to the site to determine the cause and scale of the minute-looking live slide. Lo and behold! I had spotted a rare four-legged wild creature going up the mountainside! I immediately took a few photographs and spotted another guy few feet away. It was a Himalayan Blue Sheep couple.

NS face of Manerang S.

Manerang North. Please visit bNomadic in Spiti for more pics of the region

A narrow portion of Spiti Valley ahead.

A narrow portion of Spiti Valley ahead. For more pics, visit bNomadic on Flickr

A Bharal couple climbing up the slopes of Zaskar Range

A Bharal couple climbing up the slopes of Zaskar Range. More pics on Flickr

The satisfaction of having captured a rare wild animal disappeared the very next moment when I realised my camera was fitted with a wide-angle lens. The impatient movement in my body to procure the telephoto-lens lying in the car frightened the animal. I knew my lucky moment was over and within no time the Bharals left the spot. I greatly lamented the loss but couldn’t do much.

A close-up of Himalayan Blue Sheep, locally called Bharal, Naur, Sna.

A close-up of Himalayan Blue Sheep, locally called Bharal, Naur, Sna.

Wind-eroded formations in a narrower section of the Spiti Valley ahead

Wind-eroded formations in a narrower section of the Spiti Valley ahead. More on Flickr

Looking back; view towards Nadang

Looking back; view towards Nadang. More pics on bNomadic in Spiti

Approaching the widest section of the Spiti Valley

Approaching the widest section of the Spiti Valley. More pics at Flickr

Majestic Spiti

Majestic Spiti. For more photographs of the region, please visit bNomadic on Flickr

Road through village Sichling

Road through village Shichling. For more pics, please visit bNomadic in Spiti

Before agreeing to give the young lady a lift, we had made our intentions clear with respect to a visit at Dankhar monastery. The much-revered Dankhar monastery is located at a distance of about 8 km from the main road. The road after the turn-off at Shichling was steep but freshly tarred owing to the under-construction Helipad near the Gompa. Perched atop the razor-edged rocky pinnacles and alkaline deposits hoodoos above the terraced fields of barley and peas, the Gompa is visible from the main road below and makes for dramatic frame. It is said that in ancient times, faced with raiders, Spitians would hide in these overhangs staving them off by dropping stones from the top. Once the official capital of Spiti, the oldest building in the compound – Nono’s palace, now in ruins – dates back to seventh century.

Dankhar Monastery

Dhankar Monastery is approximately 300 m higher in altitude than the Spiti at Shichling

Dankhar

The ancient complex is built on a high bluff overlooking the Pindomor

Dankhar

“The Cold Fort” Dankhar

Dankhar

Literally meaning a fort on a cliff, Dhankar was the capital of Spiti Kingdom in the 17th century

The views from the old monastery’s terrace are commanding and the charms include snow-capped Manerang massif over the gorge towards Tabo, confluence of the Pin, Spiti and Lingti Rivers, Pin valley and the open valley towards Kaza. Next to the recently-built monastery is a small restaurant selling chai and simple meals. Another lure, the Dankhar Lake is situated at a distance of about four km from the monastery. Although both time and mind allowed trekking up the trail to reach the lake but for the commitment made to the young professor to make her reach Kaza on time.

View towards Shichling from the terrace of one of the cells of the monastery

View towards Shichling from the terrace of one of the cells of the monastery. More pics on Flickr

Wind-eroded hoodoos

Wind-eroded hoodoos

The confluence of Pin and Spiti Rivers; the Lingti is not visible in the frame

The confluence of Pin and Spiti Rivers; the Lingti is not visible in the frame. More at Flickr

Next, we crossed a narrow gateway sliced through the hoodoos to reach the other side of the mountain where the narrow-cum-bumpy-cum-dusty jeep-track descended to join the main highway to Kaza. The recently carved jeep-track is seldom used and most vehicles ply on the tarred road via Shichling. We still insisted driving on the same for two reasons – save some precious time as well as capture both the monastery and Manerang peak in a single frame though the typical Spitian dust did not allow much photography on the descent.

The Lingti Gorge

Towards Attargu; The Lingti gorge, visible immediately ahead, separates the Bhar and Sham regions of the Spiti Valley. More photographs at Flickr

Colourful Spiti

Colourful vistas of Spiti. For more photographs of the region, please visit Flickr

The Manerang massif and Dankhar bluff.

The Manerang massif and Dankhar bluff. This and more at bNomadic in Spiti

Engrossed in the conversation, we soon reached Kaza. The mesmerising confluence of three rivers looked even more beautiful against the backdrop of the Zanskar-valley-like mountains. I was always interested in exploring the vistas offered by the Pin valley and even planned to drive up to the village Mudh this time but for the condition of the roads, ravaged by the recent flash floods. Hardly a few weeks before, the unwarranted glacial melt had caused havoc in the entire Pin valley washing off several bridges and settlements as well as submerging entire road-length. The lady professor also advised us not to venture into the area at this stage. The majestic view of snow-capped peaks from village Attargu and groves of seabuckthorn, mostly located on the island formed at the confluence – Pindomor, were among other attractions on the way. Having dropped the professor at the entrance to Kaza, we headed straight to the only fuel pump in the area and got the tank full. We checked into a private guest house and after refreshing ourselves quickly headed straight to the newly built Kaza monastery.

Intriguingly eroded slopes

Intriguingly eroded mountain-slopes in the Bhar region. This and more at bNomadic in Spiti

Natural formations in the Middle Land.

Natural formations in the Middle Land. More photographs on Flickr

Serene Bhar region

Serene expanse of upland-terrain in the Bhar region. More pics at bNomadic in Spiti

Welcome to Kaza.

Welcome to Kaza, the administrative headquarters of the Spiti Valley. More pics at Flickr

The remaining part of the day was spent with monks in the monastery, walking around the town as well as the market. Surrounded by high-rise mountain-faces by the left bank of snaking Spiti River, at 3680m the tin-roofed town of Kaza could be divided in two comprising the old settlement area or old Kaza and new Kaza housing government offices, market, rest-houses, etc. Interlaid with narrow dusty streets and fast-mushrooming guesthouses, the town is fast-expanding into a vacationer-destination. Being headquarter of the Spiti valley, recognised as a tribal area, it enjoys certain special provisions and relaxations from the Government of India.

The Monastery at Kaza

The newly built colourful Monastery at Kaza. The monastery was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in July 2009. More pics at Flickr Photostream

Meditating Buddha

The Shakyamuni Buddha

Lama

An ornate statue of the great translator and Mahaguru Rinchen Zangpo

Chortens lined outside the Monastery

Chortens lined outside the Monastery

To foreigners coming from Kunzum side, Kaza is the place to get your Inner Line Permit. Although the market lacks the amenities of a town, Kaza can be used as an excellent base to explore the village pastures located higher up the mountainsides. We aimed to do the same next morning. An additional day at Kaza also offered us an opportune spell to do the laundry.

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31 Comments on “Bumping into a rare four-legged wild creature

  1. Pingback: On Road through the trans-Himalayan Region | bNomadic

  2. Hi,

    My name is KC Owens, I’m a college student and I love to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts. I have been to countries all over Europe with just my backpack and a camera. Since I am a college student and I have significant bills, it can be difficult to find ways to travel the world. However, I have done this several times, with less than ten pounds of luggage and while on a college dime!

    I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your blog to share my tips and tricks with your readers. I put a lot of time into my traveling, it is my biggest passion and I would love to inspire others by sharing my stories, mistakes and triumphs. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Best,

    KC Owens

    • Thanks for visiting my page KC and for writing in. It is always a learning experience to meet and interact with travellers who share similar interest. Your idea seems nice in spirit, however, at the moment I want to promote this blog as a personal collection of travel-memoirs only. I suggest you to maintain your own blog and would help you in promoting the ideas generated by you through your blog.
      Hope you’d find the above arrangement suitable. Looking forward to know more about your experiences.
      Best wishes,
      Satyender

  3. Bunch of great photos………. Himalayas are wonder of this world, full of mesmerizing beauty…… By the way I liked the photo of your blog cover………… Is it taken by you? If so I must say it is a wonderful shot……

    • Thanks for visiting my blog Debopam. The cover-photo was self-clicked in a local wetland in Haryana. Thanks for appreciating the effort. Hope you’d keep visiting.

  4. i wish i could select one of these snaps to say this one is the best ?? All of them are equally awesome !

  5. I am mesmerized. Day by Day my desire to go to Spiti gets stronger. You have taken amazing photographs! For the animal at a distance and wideangle in camera, I thought and bought a less sharper but more effective 18-200. Keeps me happy most of the time now 🙂

    • Thank you Puru. The Spiti Valley is one of the most culturally as well as visually appealing regions of the Indian trans-Himalayan regions. That day I was very unlucky with respect to the camera lens otherwise this blog would have been different wrt photographs.

  6. Captivating pictures, equally intriguing description, the combination makes your blog so unique. Thank you for this wonderful post.

    • Thank you Thumbelina81. The Bhar region in Spiti is one of the most culturally as well as visually appealing regions of Spiti.

    • Thank you Thumbelina81. The Bhar region in Spiti is one of the most culturally as well as visually appealing regions of Spiti.

    • Thank you Anjan for appreciating the blog. Spiti is truly a beautiful region. Hope you’d keep visiting.

    • Thanks for revisiting my page Fizz. Spiti is one of the most beautiful regions in the Indian trans-Himalayan part. Hope you’d continue visiting the blog in future as well.

    • Thank you travellingslacker for the encouragement. You should definitely plan a visit to the middle-land soon. Hope you’d visit the blog again.

  7. Stunning photos. You know what some of the things remind me of Ladakh e.g. the eroded mountains. In fact we saw one just a little outside the Leh town and it looked like a full fledged fort. Amazing feats of nature. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thanks. Such a landscape is very typical of the trans-Himalayan region of our country. Thanks for showering with appreciation as well as encouragement.

    • Thanks for visiting my blog and showering it with appreciation Amitabha ji. Hope you’d visit again.

  8. Pingback: Brush with The Malling | bNomadic

  9. Pingback: Climbing up the slope of Bhar pastures | bNomadic

  10. I am so so so tempted so book a trip to Spiti this August. Looking at your journey and photographs… I just hope something works out. Excellent narration and detailing…

    • That’ll be great! Late August to early September is the best time for Spiti. I’ll be happy to help you. Please let me know if the need arises. Keep visiting bNomadic for more such travel stories:-)

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