Located at an altitude of about 4650m, Tashigang is the highest village in Spiti valley. I had read about Tashigang but had no idea how this place would be. And the visit to this village became one of my best experiences in Spiti. I spend a night with one of the families there. It was a great opportunity to see and understand how people live at higher altitudes.
Started our journey to Tashigang from Kibber. As usual everywhere in Spiti, the roads are just for name sake. The peculiar geography and climate of this region make it harder for roads to withstand. Tashigang is 14 km away from Kibber, It took about 45 minutes to reach there. The road was scenic, it has quite a bit of greenery compared to other parts of Spiti. The road was not steep, but it went twisted all around the mountains. We can see a lot of flowers on the hills. Small bushes with different coloured flowers covering the valley are wonderful to watch. The weather was pleasant but soon dark clouds were visible over the snow capped mountains. The sky was getting dark, we were expecting a rain very soon. Spiti usually gets few drops of rain during this time as the monsoon approaches the green side of Himalayas.
As we went higher, the wind became stronger. The birds were having difficulty to balance in the air. It started to rain and it was quite different. The rain here is very light, rain drops form little threads from the clouds on its way down which sways with the wind. It was beautiful to watch. During my days in Spiti, I saw many beautiful things that were not there in my part of the country.
Soon prayer flags became visible at a distance and finally, we reached Tashigang. Entering to the village, I felt like it is abandoned. I couldn’t see anyone around. This village has 5 houses out of which 2 are not using, there are few cattle sheds and Budhist stupas. All the houses look old and rustic. As soon as got out of the car, and started walking, many faces appeared through the windows watching us.
The person who was taking us to Tashigang was from the village itself, his parents live next to our homestay. In his house, there is a special idol which the people here worship. We later saw many people from other villages coming to see the idol.
Entering our homestay, I was little distracted by the odd smell inside. The house was dark and warm. The ground floor of the house is for cattle in winter. They stock up fodder for the cattle inside for the winter. The family just came from the village and were having lunch. They welcomed us very warmly. We got our room, it had a big window with a view of the mountains and the valley.
Later, at evening, decided for a hike to the nearby hills to get a better view of the place. The valley was beautiful. The Buddha statue of Langza was visible far away on the other side of the valley.
By the time I came back to the house, it was time for the prayer and after that, our hosts called us for dinner. There are six people in the house including two kids. For six months a year (October – March), this village will hibernate under 5-foot thick snow. At this time, contact with the outside world is impossible. It will be very difficult for vehicles to reach here. They stock up tonnes of food items necessary for the winter in advance. Everyone will stay inside the house. Their cattle will also be kept inside the house. There are no schools nearby. So they teach their children on their own and later send them to relatives in Ki or Kibber to get the education. When there is no snow, these people work all day in fields growing jowar and peas. Water is brought in pipes from the mountains and collected in small natural ponds for irrigation.
Tashigang is much colder than Kaza. The temperature will drop suddenly after sunset. As soon as the sun goes down, the skies will become packed with stars. Watching milky way at that night from Tashigang was a dream come true for me. It was so magical.
The life of people in these mountains is extremely tough. Each and every day they fight with the toughest terrain and weather conditions. But they are happy. When I asked our host about moving down to the Kaza or Kibber where he can have a better life, he just smiled and shook his head. He said he won’t go away from his village.
Often we complain about our life, we become upset if the power goes for 30 minutes, we became restless if there is no coverage for phones. We feel irritated if our bus or taxi is late by five minutes. But just think about these people, they don’t have all these comforts. The happy faces of these people are a lesson for us. It is not about the things that make our life better, it is always about the way we make our life better. Travelling through the Spiti valley had taught me some important life lessons and showed me another beautiful side of nature I never seen. The way people survive here is an inspiration for all of us. And moreover, with your ego, you can’t live up in these mountains.
Things to do in Tashigang
You can either trek from Kibber to Tashigang (14 km), there roads are good for walking and it is not a steep trek. This part of Spiti is really beautiful and green. Or else on the way back you can walk up to Kibber. The bus from Kibber to Kaza starts at 8 AM, so an early morning trek to Kibber and later the bus will take you to Kaza.
The best way to understand the life of the people is to live with them, spend a day with them, go to their fields and ask whatever you want to know. They are really good people and are very happy to show everything.
Tashigang is the best place to watch the night sky since there is no light pollution. If it is a clear sky, then many things are waiting for you up in the sky.
You can hike up to the nearby valley, the landscapes are mind blowing. You can also see animals like blue sheep and Ibex grazing in the hills.
Few things to remember
- The homestay name is Blue Sheep homestay, there is no telephone network in Tashigang. Hence booking in advance is not possible. Most probably you will get accommodation for the night, only fewer people come here.
- The home stay charges are 500 INR per day including three meals.
- There are no modern toilets available in the village. Either you have to use dry toilet or else..you know it!!
- It is good to bring some medicine for altitude sickness since Tashigang is located much higher than Kaza
- Nights will be colder, hence be prepared if you are going out
That’s all about Tashigang. It was a great experience in the highest village in Spiti valley. Nothing about Tashigang was planned, everything happened for a good reason.
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