The Journey so far-
Day 3 – 7th October, 2011 | Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Losar – Kaza
We were already running late for the day as quite some time had been wasted in getting bookings for Tabo next day and detecting the puncture. We wanted to explore much more than what was left for us in the day. So, we decided to explore Ki – Kibber and then move towards Losar to stay for rest of the day. Before diving into the story, some facts about Ki and Kibber –
Ki monastery, is about 14 KMs away from Kaza at an altitude of 4116 Meters. When you drive towards Losar from Kaza there comes a bridge from where the straight road leads to Ki – Kibber and the left goes towards Rangrik and further towards Losar across that bridge. Ki is the oldest monastery and the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley. It is built atop a hill and portrays a combination of a monastery and a fort. The monastery has some really beautiful scriptures and paintings of Lord Buddha and other gods. The Ki gompa is also famous for its priceless collection of ancient thangkas, including Tibetan silk thangkas upto 800 years old and frescoes depicting the life of Padmasambhava. There is a Ki Village that comes just before the Ki monastery. There is a guest house at Ki monastery as well where you can stay for the day. The views from this vantage point are just breathtaking from where you can also view Rangrik Village across the Spiti River.
About 9-10 KMs from Ki Monastery and at an altitude of 4205 Meters, there lies a village named Kibber. Kibber claims itself as the highest village in the world. However, there is another village about 7 KMs east of Kibber by the name Gette at an altitude of 4270 Mtrs and then there is Komic which is further higher. So, I am not sure how true these claims are as I assume there might be more villages in (may be in Tibet) which might prove these claims false enough but not known to us. But, may be the second fact associated with Kibber being second highest village in Asia (Komic being highest) connected by bus service could be true. Anyways, you will surely enjoy the drive from Ki monastery to Kibber where the road is not that paved but the views are nice once you reach Kibber. Spend some time in this timeless village as well to feel the culture around. The houses in Kibber village are unique to Spiti as most of them are made of stones instead of mud or brick used extensively in other parts of the Spiti Valley. The vistas surrounding the Kibber and Gette villages are all mountains of limestone rocks which adds more colours to this beautiful valley.
Coming back to the story, the drive upto Ki village was purely amazing with great panoramic views around. Once, we reach this little Ki village the Ki monastery looking uphill was a treat to watch. After couple of snaps we reached Ki monastery. Now, for the first time I was feeling a bit uneasy, very uneasy I shall say. I knew from inside that it was AMS and the itinerary we had due to lack of number of days, it was bound to happen but I tried my best to keep myself exploring the place, enjoy the views and ignore any symptoms. views from the top were simply superb. However, after spending about half an hour at the monastery it was time to go to Kibber village. I was feeling more uneasy by that time with headache and fatigue and decided to quit driving. Saurabh took the wheel from me and by the time we reached Kibber, the dark clouds covered the sky. Kibber was a very nice and calm village and again the views of the limestone studded mountains were quite amazing. Infact the view of Chicham Village from Kibber just appeared as nuts on the chocolate colored mountains, very beautiful.
There were few more reasons of getting AMS which as my less appetite, less hydration, sudden increase in altitude (mind you we slept at about 3600 Mtrs at Pin Valley on second night itself. Not acceptable at all) and not following many tips I mentioned in the article Acute Mountain Sickness and Importance of Acclimatization. So, I request not to take things lightly when visiting high altitude places of Trans Himalayan region.
The fight started for going towards Losar or going back to Kaza and take rest. I was concerned more of bad weather and getting stuck incase there was havey snowfall. Also, Losar is at an altitude of 4079 Meters which was above Kaza by almost 400 Mtrs. Considering symptoms of AMS which I was having at that time, I was very much reluctant to go towards Losar. But, somehow my travel-mates thought I am feared of weather and Ladakh jinx still haunts me. (I felt why not it should haunt me after getting stuck in 2010 Flashfloods of Leh – Ladakh. If you missed the story then read here) So, majority won and we started towards Losar only. I was not feeling well to drive still so Saurbh kept driving. I must say if you hadn’t been on Losar – Kaza route then you had missed the real beauty of Spiti Valley. The views are just extra ordinary, I will say. Whenever you plan to visit Spiti Valley then do not ever miss the drive between Losar and Kaza. As we passed Rangrik, Sumling, Moorang, Hull, Pangmo, Kiato villages but as we approached Hansa weather turned too bad and my nose was also bleeding. After few arguments with each other we finally decided (guess only me :D) to move back to Kaza. But, yes the drive was simply superb there and after reaching Kaza it started raining too. The cold was too much that evening and hunt for hotel begun. On reference from one of our friends we decided to inquire at Hotel Snow Lion or Hotel Sakya Abode as both are run by same person. Unfortunately, both of them were completely booked, thanks to Durga Puja rush of tourists from West Bengal and Kolkata. But, we got an extremely decent and comfortable Homestay actually run by the same guy who runs the other two… It indeed was a nice property and my complete rview will follow later.
After checkin we rushed to restaurant of the hotel on the road itself and decided to have many things to eat 😀 … My headache was still there and I knew it will only go after sleeping or taking a bath. We had good time there and at about 7 PM types the Aunty, whose home we were staying came to the house. She offered some super delicious Spiti Apples and Almonds… The apples tasted so great that I never had such apples before in my life. It was time for dinner and we went to the hotel. Unluckily there was a marriage at some nearby village due to which whole electricity of Kaza town was feed to that village 😯 … Never saw such arrangement of even electricity and it is rightly said “Perhaps, it happens only in India!!” 😆 … So, it was all dark and chilly at Kaza that night. As we were taking dinner the whole lot of people came in started shouting, running here and there, within seconds the place was all fussy but we kept our cool and concentrated on finishing dinner. Finally, we came to know that they are the ones who had booked the entire hotel and had rough day coming from Keylong to Kaza via Kunzam Pass where they had two three punctures on Battal – Kunzum Pass stretch 😀 … The Kunzum Pass – Battal – Chattru – Gramphu stretch had always been like that with unpaved roads having sharp stones on them. You rarely goes past them without puncture as we saw on our Chandratal trip in 2009. (Read more about my Chandratal Snow Trek Adventure at the link here)… We couldn’t agree more with them and took their fussiness and restlessness as an after math of such awesome journey between Kaza and Keylong 😀 … In anycase, it hardly mattered as we didn’t have to sleep in the hotel 🙂 … After eating dinner and a walk around the Kaza streets in dark we went back to hotel, had some chit-chats before calling off this very long and adventurous day for us 😀
End of this part!!!