Saturday, May 12, 2018

Best of Kinnaur and Spiti Travels- part 5 - Homestay at Langza Village,also captured the Blue Sheep in Camera

(For details of photo, please read till end)
Hi Dear Friend,
Two nights and two days had already passed, and we had reached in the heartland of Spiti valley in the cold Himalayan desert- the most beautiful land that I had ever seen. In the last post I told you how I reached Kaza. Also I showed you the beautiful Kibber village through the photographs that I took on this trip.
Kibber village once had the highest motorable road in the world, but as of today another nearby village holds the rank. Langza and Komik village are now connected by roads and are at higher elevation than Kibber, but yes, unlike road to Kibber, these roads are not metalled yet. Now let's carry on with my story. While coming back from Kibber, we were planning to go towards Lossar, and we would have gone, but a surprise came along.

(coming back from Kibber to Kaza)

When Motorcycle gets a break-down

When you are riding your motorcycle in some barren land with the scantiest population density in India, you definitely won't expect a mechanic to be present for helping you. But this wasn't the case in Kaza. On the way back from Kibber, Rahul's motor-cycle was giving some problem with the gears, and Kaza didn't disappoint us. It took about half an hour for the mechanic to dismantle the gear parts and reassemble them with the needed fix.

Plan of Visiting the Langza village

While waiting for the repair Naren and I seated on the parapet on the other side of NH-5, where this mechanic shop was. He had heard about this village named Lagza, and told me that there is this beautiful Buddha statue. Also the village is famous among archaeologists due to some fossil fuels findings.
An immediate acquaintance- a cab driver, who stood next to the shop was asked for the confirmation about all the information about Langza village. When you are in Kaza, you don't see the skyscrapers or trees either, leave the population. There are bizarre sandy mountain slopes of two sides, spiti river in the middle and a blue sky in the top. Hoping to find some beautiful village on the other side or at the top of mountain seems an absurd idea, so we had to confirm.

Enroute Langza village - Saw Bharal(Himalayan Blue sheep)

Road up to Lagza village is a non-tarmacked or Katcha road, and rises up from the NH at just about half kilometer from Kaza town towards Lossar or say Rohtang pass. With a number of rising curves that we we crossing, the sun was dropping further in the dark in the back of the mountain. We hadn't yet met those wild animals of the wildlife sanctuary of the region, but this time we got lucky.

(bharal - Himalayan blue sheep)
Bharal or so called blue sheep is a high altitude animal that is found in abundant in this region. I had to stop on the road and shoot a video of their evening play. They were jumping and chasing each other, not just for play but a male was chasing a female for sex or say reproduction. Some of them gave their attention to me, perhaps were trying to sense if I was a danger to them. Please watch in the video.
Thankfully they were not in butting their horns to each other, because I don't like violence, even among animals. They do not have that big hair mass cover on their body, but the horns match somewhat with those of sheep. Even the body is lean and somewhat taller than sheep. And they definitely were faster with quick reflexes.
Between Langza and Kaza, there was not a single house or a man to find. We were skeptical if we had lost the correct road, and Naren even suggested to go back. Even when we felt that we had reached almost at the ridge of the mountain, the village was no where in our far sights.
But the geography has created this deception, we didn't knew what we would see next. The village remains hidden until we reach only about a kilometer's distance from this somewhat plane small plateau where the Buddha statue becomes visible.

(First sight of the village and Buddha statue- such planes are very rare in this high altitude region. elevation - 4420 metres)

Entering Langza Village

Few boards read the names of the homestays and their owners' phone numbers. The only telecommunication facility available in this region is from BSNL. So if you are having a BSNL SIM card, you can connect with them immediately. But remember the signal is not at every corner, you have to find the corners where it is.

(A typical mud and stone home at Langza)
There are fields in the front of the houses, and the white and red colored houses stood like guards to them. The Buddha with half closed eyes seated in the middle of the plateau seems to be conscious of each and every activity not just in this region, but the whole universe. This was a magnificent sight, and I think the impression in my mind is for lifetime.

Meditating Buddha at Langza

We wanted to see it from near before it gets complete dark. The road continues and ends at the feet of the Buddha, where it makes a circle around the statue. Bigger vehicles have to stop at 100 metres back, where a cafe is erected, where one can drink the tea and eat snacks.

(Buddha Statue and mountain in front of it - clicked next morning)
The mountain peaks in its front would glitter in the golden orange color, if sun would shine in the evening. But sun was already in hide behind the other mountain peaks in the back of the statue.
We tried to make the similar meditative posture as of Buddha and clicked few pictures before it would get complete dark. It was fun.

Homestay at Langza Village

We met two young bikers who had come from Delhi on bikes. Despite me telling them about the homestay facility at the village, they headed back to Kaza. At that moment even we didn't know what they would miss. We descended to the village via the road, and spotted a board on the first home on the way.
It read 'Anjaan's Norkhil Homestay, Langcha.' It also read, food, stay, free information about Spiti, and recharge your phones and camera and water bottles. Everything was included in just 500 rupees(about $5 per person.) Also guide service was available if you want that too. One would expect something cheap for this cheap price, but the surprize waited us.
Anjaan was the his name, his wife and two kids were inside.

Toilet Facility

Staircase took us to the first floor, while the ground floor only has one door which was closed. Outside the entrance to the rooms of the 1st floor, a toilet door was to the right. They have this Spiti toilet, specific to this region. It was nothing like an English toilet.
There was a hole in the middle with space around it to place your feet, and beside it was a bucket full of sheep and goat's dung. Instead of using water, after defecating one has to through a small shovel full of dung into the hole.
Then I understood the purpose of the ground floor, and why the door was shut. Yet the house was not fetid at all, except inside the toilet room, where hole was always open. It is well known fact the water is scarce at that place, and more in winters when even the pipe water becomes ice. Beside saving the water, it produced a very good organic manure for their fields.

At the Dining Room

No tables and chairs, but a rectangular arrangement of the mats along the corner lines of the wall to sit in a squatting position. Next to mat were stools arranged in similar manner. A special type of oven, which is found only in this Manali or Spiti region was put in the middle.

( Oven in the middle)

(Water purifier)
On one corner some green plants were rooted inside the plastic pots made out of reused plastic cans. On the kitchen side of wall were hung a small photo gallery. Anjaan worked as a guide with some agency, and therefore had hiked many routes. He had pictures of himself with his number of clients.First a lemon, ginger tea was demanded and they made it very well. He offered us a locally made fermented rice wine, and I tasted it with few sips as I don't like the wine that much. A soup made with some flour chips and some green leaves was offered as dinner, I forgot the name, sorry!
His younger child was sick, and his sister was trying to sooth him. Naren advised him about the tablet, because they carried a pocket full of variety. We started to chat with the girl, and tried to learn the new language, and I learned some lines. But after one month, while I am writing this article, I remember only one word 'Julley' - means Hi or Hello, or Namaste in my own language. Anjaan told us about the village komik, whose name we hadn't heard yet. Komik is now the world's highest motorable village.
We inquired him about the fossil fuels, and he told that one has trek further back into the mountains, maybe half an hour or more. We thought, maybe some other day, we would see them.

Hot water available for bath in a spacious bath-room. You can carry your own fancy shampoo if you don't like 'Lifebuoy' soap.

Good Night Sleep

This would be our 3rd night halt since we entered Kinnaur and Spiti region. He gave us new bisleri bottles, and told us that foreigners demanded them, so he made it a routine to keep them in surplus amount. Bed room contained double bed, enough for three of us. There were 3-4 fresh and soft quilts, enough to keep us warm in the cold of this 4420 metres elevation. We put our cell phones to charge.

(colorful sheet on the ceiling surface)
Just like in dining room, the ceiling surface was covered with some colorful cloth sheets.

Morning and the Break-Fast.

I can never forget that plate with a bing chunk of home made butter that they kept on the stool. They didn't tell us how much to take, it was our own wish. They made very nice rotis, and we ate them with that.

Overall Rating of Homestay

From Right, Anjaan(home owner), Rahul, Naren, and I
In one sentence- Out of the World. I would say that if you wanted such a food and service at such heights, it would not be less than 2000 rupees if it was some kind of good hotel. Yet the price was so less, only 500 rupees per person, everything included except the bisleri bottles. Wow!

Leaving for Komik

As Anjaan had told us about the route to Komik and then a shortcut to Kaza, we left the homestay in early morning. I clicked a selfie with his home and him, because I knew perhaps it would be only this one time in my life while I am at his place.

( On the way to Komik)
Let's keep the story of our visit to Komik village for my next post.
Thanks for visit, and don't forget to visit earlier parts of this travel story series.

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