Spiti Valley : Day 5 – 6: Komic village and Key Monastery

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Freezing Time

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By this time in my mind, the beauty of this wondrous corner of the earth, although well impressed, did not fascinate as much as the exceedingly simple lives led by the Spitian people. They live in mud houses, rely primarily on farming for their food. Television, computer, smart  phones, facebook or twitter did not seem to be a part of their daily life. Although covered by snow for half of the year, they still have problems getting fresh water supply. For this reason, they do away with things like a daily bath. In my conversations with the Spitians, I understand that they wash once a week during summers and once in a few weeks during the winters to conserve water. They have compost pits for toilets. Compost pits are pits in the ground which are used as toilets. In fact the mud houses do not have a separate toilet or shower area but a common wash area using for washing utensils as well as washing self. Anyhow I deviate, next stop Komic.

Komic village is supposedly the highest inhabited village in Asia at about 15000 ft above sea level. Even before we started this trip, the advisory asked us to take Diamox (medicine) 2 to 3 days before travel to counter the reduced oxygen levels at such high altitudes. Being the blockheads that we are, my brother and I decided that all we needed to counter high altitude is bravado and selection of tangy candy. There are three ways to get from Demul to Komic. The first and regular option that most people choose is to travel in a SUV to reach the village. The next option is to sit atop a yak and merrily make your way to Komic village, all the while hoping that the Yak does not topple you over the edge :) Naah, just kidding, its a pretty safe ride. The third and the least popular option is to trek from Demul which is at  around 13500 feet and involves a 13 km trek and altitude increase of over 1500 feet.

Now at such altitudes, exertion is going to pretty much result in severe headaches and possibly nosebleeds.  Anyhow we set off on a beautiful morning in Demul at around 5.30 AM. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I consider myself to be fairly in good shape always ready for a 10 minute mile. However the conditions tasked us all quite a bit with even one of the trekkers getting a nosebleed early on. So we covered about 8 kms in earnest in the first 3 hours quickly climbing over 1000 feet. Then we took a break to have breakfast. Nosebleeds apart, there was yet another factor that we did not consider – sunburn. At that altitude the sun burns right through and any exposed areas are burnt in under 10 minutes. After this we did not care about the altitude, but just about getting out of the sun. Since these are desert mountains, there is barely any vegetation and no shade. So we made it eventually to Komic quite tanned and exhausted and almost spent the rest of the day at the homestays with a throbbing headache.

Next day morning, we set off to the Key Monastery which is pretty much the biggest monasteries in these parts. This monastery houses over 200 monks who stay within these walls in the winter when there is over 3 feet of snow everywhere. On the way to Key monastery, we stopped to admire the tall Buddha statue in Langza village overlooking the Spiti valley.

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We reached the monastery in roughly over an hour and a half and we beheld a dense mountain dwelling at the top of which lies the Key monasteryOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, this had to happen at some point :)

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The entrance of the Key Gompa is lined with these intricately designed cylindrical bells – that’s my brother’s silhouette walking down the aisle

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Plaque inside the Key Gompa

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We had the opportunity to have a sneak peak into the daily lives of the monks who lived most part of their lives within these walls. We learnt that most of them leave to be with their families in the village during winter to farm and live a normal life.

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Monks having their lunch on the floor with their legs foldedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

We also had a chance to take some pictures inside the monastery. We managed to have a sneak peek and beyond this door lies a ritual chamber where the monks chant to ward off evil spirits and bring positive energy to the people and the villages

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Sacred space within the monastery –

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A very religious monk in deep thought as he walked by

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With that our Spiti valley trip was almost nearing its end and we left the monastery and headed off to Kaza.

Regards

Vijay

Article Author and Source: Freezing Time

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