Termed Himalayan Scotland by British explorers, Lahaul is a perfect destination for those who love adventure. It also attracts people who are in search of peace and nature. While its high terrain and tough passes will test your strength at the same time the amazing landscape and serenity of the place will be a treat for your mind.
Pronounced locally as "Lho-Yul" which means "Country of South", Lahaul has a few other pronunciations and meanings as well. While some Tibetans living there, call Lahaul "Lhahi-Yul" meaning "Country of Gods" and others connect it to the word “La” meaning passes, hence called the “Land of Passes”.
The world's famous Manali Leh Road also passes through Lahaul. This road has a few of the world’s highest motorable passes Rohtang La (3978 m), Baralacha La (5360 m), Lach Lang La (5066 m), and Tang Lang[PC1] La (5360 m).
Sandwiched between Ladakh and Kullu, until the 17th Century it was a contested territory. After the disintegration of Ladakh, Lahaul was ruled by Kullu Kings. In 1840, the Sikh Armies of Maharaja Ranjit Singh took control over the Kullu. After the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1845-46, Lahaul was handed over to Britishers along with Kullu and Spiti.
The British declared Lahaul and Spiti as a subdivision of the Kangra. The Kangra district was a part of Punjab and later in 1965-66 after the state reorganization, it became part of Himachal Pradesh. At present Lahaul is a Subdivision and forms the District of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.
A strong fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism can be found in the Region.
Places to Visit:
Keylong: Situated at the height of 3350m, Keylong is the headquarter of the Lahaul and Spiti District. It is located on the Leh-Manali highway. Keylong has a small marketplace, administrative offices, and medical facilities. The place does have a little greenery against the otherwise barren trans-Himalayan landscape. The four most famous monasteries of Lahaul are easily reachable from Keylong.
Guru Ghantal Monastery: Overseeing the junction of the Chandra and Bhaga Rivers, Guru Ghantal monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Lahaul. The monastery has an idol of Vajreshwari Devi (Do-jeLha-mo) and a Budha Idol of Avalokiteshwara, with the body of the idol made of wood and the head made up of marble. As per the local folklore, it is believed that there is an airless dark room in the monastery that contains the Tsedak Demon.
Kardang: Situated just 5 km away from Keylong, the monastery and the village Kardang are situated across the Bhaga river. The Kardang monastery is believed to exist since the 12th Century and is one of the most sacred places of the Durg-Pa (Red Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery houses a large library that preserves the sacred Kangyur and Tangyur scripts, Thangka Paintings, musical instruments, and old weapons. The monastery was restored in and after 1912 from a very despaired state.
Shashur: "Shashur" means "in the blue pines" as visible from the location of the Monastery. It is located in a rare patch of woodland around a barren treeless landscape. At a distance of 3 KM from Keylong, the monastery was founded in the 17th Century by Deva Gyatso. A festival of Shahsur Tsesha is organized in June/July where you can enjoy the mask and costume dance performed by the monks.
Sissu: Sissu is a very beautiful place on the right bank of the Chandra river, situated around 28 KM from Keylong. It offers a very beautiful view of a waterfall. The monastery at Sissu has an image of the Lahaul deity known as Gyephang. The height of the peak is 5870 m and is named after the deity.
Gondhla: Famous for the 8 storied towering structure made of stone and wood logs, it was once the residence of the "Thakur", the ruling chief of the area. A Buddhist monastery is situated along stretches of cultivated land and has great historic importance. Each July, Gondhla holds a small fair to remark on the victory over Tibetan King Langdarma, who was opposed to spreading Buddhism. Adjacent is a 1500 mtr high cliff offering it a spectacular view.
Tandi: Tandi is the meetup point of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers. As per the local folklore, Chandra, the daughter of the moon and Bhaga, the son of the sun fell in love with each other and decided to get married. To purify their soul, they decided to roam all around the Lahaul and then meet. After facing many difficulties, they met at Tandi and the meeting point of these two rivers is a remark of remaining married forever.
Trilokinath: Situated at a distance of 53 KM from Keylong, Trilokinath temple is worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. Hinduism considers Trilokinath as Lord Shiva whereas Buddhists consider it as Avalokiteshwara. Every August, a local fair is organized known as "Pori".
Udaipur: Udaipur is named after the ruler of Chamba state, Raja Udai Singh. This place was made an administrative center in 1695 by him. Earlier it was named Markul, named after the Markul Devi, the reincarnation of the Hindu Goddess, Durga. The temple's architecture with fine carvings attracts both Hindus and Buddhists.