The word ‘Lahaul’ is derived from the Tibetan word ‘Lhahi-yul’ meaning ‘Country of the Gods’. And when you’re there, you’ll be mesmerized to see how nature unfolds in this part of the world! For its rugged landscape, Lahaul is aptly called ‘The Barren Splendour of Himachal’. If you’re planning a trip to Lahaul, this is your one-stop guide for everything you need to know.
The Magic Of Lahaul
Lahaul is a mystical land of contrasts with a bouquet of scenic mountain passes and fascinating Hindu-Buddhist culture. Known to be the better half of Spiti Valley that lies across the Kunzum Pass, Lahaul is home to breathtaking landscapes, towering peaks, sparsely populated villages, gorgeous valleys, massive glaciers, pristine rivers, medieval monasteries and temples connected through winding roads.
Located at a distance of just 33 km from Manali along the Manali-Leh highway, on the Indo-Tibetan border, Lahaul and Spiti together form the largest district in Himachal Pradesh with Keylong as the administrative center. Surrounded by the Greater Himalayas to the North, the Pir Panjal Range to the South and Spiti in the East, Lahaul is nourished by two mountain rivers – Chandra and Bhaga, which originate on either side of the Baralacha La, and finally, meet at Pattan valley in Tandi.
Best Time To Visit Lahaul
The best time to visit the isolated yet spectacular Lahaul Valley is during the summer months – from May to October when the roads are clear and ice-free! This is the time when the days are bright and sunny, with colder evenings. However, winter tourism has become immensely popular in recent times. If you’re keen to explore the winter wonderland and wake up to see the world around you painted in white, then you can plan a trip between December and March.
How To Reach Lahaul
The journey to Lahaul would be an epic adventure! You can either fly down to Bhuntar Airport, near Kullu and then travel by road, covering a distance of about 170 km. Alternatively, you can also take a narrow-gauge train to Jogindernagar, which is the nearest railway station. But the easiest and the most preferred way to reach Lahaul is by road, as it is well connected from Delhi and Chandigarh via Manali. Local buses ply regularly on this route, connecting Manali to Keylong. Previously, the valley was accessible only through Rohtang Pass, which often remained closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall. But now, you can travel any time of the year, thanks to the Atal Tunnel – known to be the longest highway tunnel in the world – which has reduced the distance between Manali and Lahaul tremendously.
Best Hotels And Homestays In Lahaul
Being a remote Himalayan district, Lahaul offers unique accommodation options for travelers. Keylong, Jispa, Sissu, Gramphu and Sarchu are the most preferable places to spend a night, where the locals offer cozy homestay facilities. At Keylong, you can find State Tourism Department and PWD bungalows besides several private hotels and guest houses. If you’re looking for something out-of-the-box, you can choose to spend a night at the local monasteries, where rooms are occasionally available. Tented accommodation with bare basic facilities has been developed in the valley in recent years between Sissu and Darcha. These are only available during the summer season as they cannot withstand the winter snow.
Restaurants And Cafes In Lahaul
There are a number of small restaurants and cozy cafes in Lahaul where you can enjoy exotic and hearty meals, made with locally available ingredients. You can’t miss out on binging on momos and thukpa, and sipping on a cup of Lahaul’s famous butter tea!
Things To Do In Lahaul
Other than gazing at the postcard-perfect valleys and mountains, hiking around the Himalayan trails and soaking in the freshness that lingers in the air, there’s much more to explore in Lahaul. You’ll be surprised to see the unique blend of religions that have co-existed for centuries in the valley. Visit the Trilokinath Temple, which is considered to be a holy shrine by both the Hindus and the Buddhists. The views of the Chandra Bhaga river flowing below and the lush valleys all around are guaranteed to leave you spellbound. Walk around the Kardang Monastery, which was founded about 900 years ago and is home to the maximum number of female monks in the region. You’ll discover the true meaning of ‘peace’ at this quaint escape.
Hike up to the Shashur Gompa from Keylong, to see the well-preserved wall paintings and thangkas that depict all 84 Siddhas of Buddhism. Explore the Markula Devi Temple portraying detailed wood carvings dating from the 11th to 16th centuries, including scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana around the top of the walls. Soak in the serenity of the Guru Ghantal Gompa, which is said to be the oldest monastery in Lahaul and legend suggests that Guru Padmasambhava himself has built this shrine. Soothe your senses sitting by the Suraj Tal and click some Insta-worthy photos at the Sissu Waterfalls. Feel the adrenaline pumping while driving down the Sach pass, known to be one of the most dangerous roads in India! This one is certainly not for the faint-hearted among us.
Lahaul Trip Duration
You can spend about 4 to 5 days in Lahaul, and easily club your trip with that of Spiti Valley. No matter how much time you spend here, it’ll be a soul-stirring journey that’ll be cherished for years to come. If you like this article, please comment on it and share it with your friends.