Wednesday 16 July 2008

Kinnaur & Spiti

Had the opportunity to travel to Kinnaur and Spiti few years back. The photos that I had taken that time were from an ordinary non-digital click-and-shoot type camera. As I was revisiting the photos I thought of posting some of them and therefore scanned them to upload.

Ki Monastery in Spiti

Ki is the largest gompa (monastery) in Spiti located on a scenic conical hill about 14 km from Kaza town which is the administrative headquarters of the Spiti province. More than 300 lamas of the Gelugpa sect reside here. The gompa is located at more than 13500 feet from sea level.

Due to lack of land resources even now in most families only the eldest son retains the land and the younger sons are sent to various gompas to lead a monastic life. In the case of daughters also the eldest daughter is married and gets all her mothers jewelery as part of the wedding gifts. Most of the younger daughters are also sent to the gompas as nuns.

Spiti has some of the highest villages in the world

Kibber (13700 feet approximately) and Gette at about 14000 feet are considered highest villages in the world. The famous Ladarcha festival is held near Kibber every year in summers.

A typical kitchen-cum-living room

The temperatures in winters can dip to below minus thirties (centigrade). Therefore all homes have a constant fire burning and has their living rooms and kitchens as one unit only.

Even now some families in Lahaul as well as Spiti follow the polyandry system wherein only the eldest sons gets married and the wife is considered to be a wife of all the brothers in the family. The system has its origin in the scarcity of arable land in the area (it being a cold desert). To avoid any fragmentation of land holdings this system prevailed though recently the system is on the decline. All rights in this system go to the eldest son and the off springs of the wife are considered as children from the eldest son.

Spiti valley and river

Spiti is the main river of this area. It has its origin in the Kunzam range. A major tributary, Pin river, also joins Spiti river on its right bank besides several other smaller tributaries. . The Spiti river finally merges in the mighty Sutlej river at Khab in the Kinnaur district.

Mud Towers in Spiti

Huge mud-tower formations could be seen at various locations in Spiti. These are a result of natural erosion process taking place.

Spiti River with Mud-Towers

Spiti Valley

There is scarcity of arable land in Spiti. Wherever there is some soil formation which is suitable for agriculture Spitians make use of that area for cultivation whatever be its height