lahaul valley, himachal pradesh
Lahaul Valley is a high altitude region in Himachal Pradesh. Demarcated between Rohtang La (pass) in the south, Baralacha La in north and Kunzum La in the east, this valley is the gateway to Ladakh and Spiti regions of the Himalayas. The region boasts of some of the most adventurous (off) roads in the Himalayas, treks and camping sites, and the picturesque Chander Taal (Moon Lake).
The landscape changes from high altitude grasslands to cold desert as we approach either Ladakh or Spiti. Winding through the valley is the River Chandra, originating from Chandra Taal near Kunzum La pass. The river, together with river Bhaga flowing from Baralacha La, forms the Chandrabhaga or the Chenab, which flows through Punjab into Pakistan to meet the Indus.
The place is accessible only for 4-5 months (May-Oct) when the surrounding passes are open, and is cut-off from the world otherwise. The valley can be divided into two stretches based on the roads that get bifurcated along river Chandra: one towards Ladakh and the other towards Spiti. More barren stretch is the one towards Spiti, as the other route towards Ladakh is more inhabited with proper road connectivity. Keylong is the largest town of the valley.
Shepherds and temporary dhaba-owners are the only residents in the barren areas of the valley.
There are some very dangerous water crossings on the road enroute Spiti, and they are quite a challenge for vehicles especially if crossing late in the day when snow from glacial regions melt. Hence local shepherds find horses and mules to be the best bet even in the modern times.
The photos here were all taken along the Spiti route, during my trip to Kaza in July this year.