Last part of the Journey: The Grand Dewachen in Kaza is placed so beautifully that when I opened my eyes the next morning, I was greeted by a warm mountain looking back at me and saying “Are you ready for another exciting day?” and my response as I stretched on the cozy bed was, “Why not? But can we wait just a little longer so that I can continue to admire you? That’s how beautiful you are.”
We were nearing the end of our tour but I never tired of the mountains and its magnanimous yet welcoming presence. We were to look around the place today before we set out of Kaza to Rampur tomorrow. After a heavy breakfast, we set out to Komic. Komic Village is the highest village in Asia and is located at a height of 18,000 feet above sea level. One of the most visited parts of the region, Komic is known for its scenic beauty of the mountains and valleys. I loved the way the mountains looked and felt a bit heavy too, especially with the height and the expanse. Avid trekkers spend several days traversing through this entire region. This village hosts many festivals during the year and people love to watch the masked Lamas dancing to the local folk songs. This place is almost set apart from the rest of the region especially because it receives plenty of snow and therefore it becomes essential for the locals to store a lot of food to cope up with the extremities. The locals have Yak milk for breakfast. Komic Village is famous for Lundup Tsemo Gompa Buddhist Monastery. It is believed that the monastery has ‘Matrey Buddha,’ or ‘the future Buddha,’ who looks after the well being of the people of Komic Village. The grounds of the monastery are huge and we saw young monks playing handball in their free time. Komic can be best visited during summer from May to October as the routes from Rohtang Pass remain open at this time.
A short drive from here got us to Hikkim. This is one of the nearest town connected to Kaza by road. Like Komic, Hikkim is also situated at a high elevation of 4,400m in the Himalayas and experiences heavy snow. The interesting part about Hikkim is the presence of this very cute and quaint post office which is believed to be the highest post office in the world. The post office connects small villages in this isolated region to the rest of the world. It receives and sends postal letters. It also acts as a savings bank where villagers can deposit money in their savings accounts or withdraw money. Intrepid travelers make it this far to Hikkim village to take pride in mailing their letters from the highest post office on Earth. The Postal Index Number or PIN of the village is 172114. Rinchen Chhering has been the postmaster since its inception in 1983. The mail is carried on foot to Kaza. The post office is forced to shut during winter months due to heavy snowfall. Hikkim village is also the world’s highest polling station. It is recorded in the Limca Book of Records also (credits: Wikipedia). I have been sending postcards to my loved ones from every part of the world I visited and therefore this was particularly iconic for me. Thankfully, the TRLT team had briefed us about this village and so I carried along a couple of hands painted postcards posting one to myself and one to my best friend. I was already so excited in anticipation of the post to arrive. Here, we took a break for tea and snacks and sat down on charpoys which were placed near the post office.
Our next stop before lunch was Langza village, also known as the fossil village. Langza holds the honor of being the highest village in the world with a motorable road. The Langza Buddha statue is an overbearing vision here. The village has a population of 137 people living in 33 houses and their main occupation is agriculture now while it used to be mud crafts in the olden days. The art still exists in the village and the creations are sold in different parts of the country. I had this habit of picking up one souvenir from every place I visited. This was something I learned from one of the short stories written by Jeffrey Archer, where a couple enjoyed traveling to different places and always bought something local to take back home. They called it ‘a steal.’ My steal was definitely going to be one of the mud vessels, which I had decided would find the prime position in my living room after it goes through a few brushes of paint from me. But I had two steals from here. The second being fossils. Fossils of over million years old from marine creatures and plants are found in plenty under the sedimentary rocks. Although possession and collection of fossils are illegal in India, the locals in the village sell these collectibles to the travelers visiting their village. People can actually go fossil hunting higher in the mountains. While I would have loved to do that, I parked that thought for ‘next time.’ So with my ‘steals’ carefully tucked away in the car, we visited the monastery.
We headed back to Kaza for a late lunch at our hotel. After lunch and a cat nap, we stepped out to visit Kaza town just as the sun had calmed down after a day of hard work. The sky was turning orange and the town was extremely inviting. We walked around the place and visited the petrol pump, which is said to be the highest petrol pump. We caught some beautiful sunset views in our camera, especially those that one could get if taken right next to the Spiti river. The long walk around the bazaar and the last view of the evening mountains at Kaza got us quite hungry and we were in a mood to celebrate. We stopped by at Hotel Deyzor, one a tree-lined street with an excellent view of the mountains. The evening progressed with great camaraderie and laughter, as we relished some Tibetan and European food made with as much of the local organic produce as possible. Their quaint surroundings, Tintin comics, and Saint Bernard to give a company, the food, wine, music, and friendship marked the end of yet another memorable mountainous day.
PEN NAME: PENDULUM