Tourist Places in Lahaul


Rohtang pass  (altitude 13050 feet) separates Kullu, from the exotic charm of the  Lahaul valley. In Tibetan Rohtang means “a heap of dead bodies” and the  pass stands true to its notorious name. Every year it must take toll of  life and property. This is so because after 11 A.M. sudden blizzerds and  snow storms called Biannas are only  to be expected. The pass becomes all the more hazardous to negotiate due  to frequent avalanches.
The summit of the pass turns into lush green meadow in summer studded  with violets and varieties of wild Himalayan and Alpine flowers.  Butterflies of numerous and rare kind and varigated hues also draw the  attention of’ the visitor of the Solang nullah. The  place gained religious significance because of sojourn of Beas Rishi  (the famous Vyasa Rishi, author of the epic Mahabharata.To the left  of this pass is the little lake Sarkund. On the 20th Bhadon (early  September) every year a large number of people visit this lake with the  belief and hope that an early morning bath in it will cure all their  ailments.Almost directly  opposite and obviously only a few kms away  is the well defined Sonapani glacier. Slightly to the left are the twin  peaks of Gyephang La, seats of Pre Aryan Himalayan gods Jamulu and  his younger brother Gyephang.  These peaks are snow streaked and snow covered. The higher peak is 5856  m. high. Gyephang La can be seen from Kunzom, Pangi Lahaul and from  Serchu plains across the Baralacha La. The higher of the two peaks can  be seen on a clear day from as far as the Ridge in Shimla.Himachal  tourism buses and taxi operators of Manali provide frequent and  efficient service to the tourists in the open season. Tea and snacks are  available on the top. However for food one has to halt at Marhi.


Khoksar  is the first village and gate way to Lahaul. This village is situated at  an altitude of 3140 m. on the right bank of the river Chandra. There is  habitation on the left bank also. H.P.P.W.D. rest house and Serai are on  the left bank. Khoksar remains covered under snow during winters. This  village is surrounded by high mountains and is avalanche-prone.  Avalanches can be seen piled up even near the river bed. During winters  Khoksar is the coldest inhabited place in Lahaul. The river freezes  during winters and is covered with snow to afford regular passage for  human beings as also for mule traffic. Just five kms ahead of Khoksar  towards Manali is Gramphu from where a diversion to the left leads to  Kaza. During summers rich growth of alpine flowers, beautiful potato  fields and numerous water channels spell bound the visitor. Herds of  goats and sheep can be seen grazing around. This may be of interest to  the reader that Khoksar was on the old trade route from Indian plains to  the West Asia.


This  village is situated on the right bank of the river Chandra at an  altitude of 3130m. The village is located on a broad flat ground above  the Chandra river. Good plantations of willows and poplars on both sides  of the road are so dense during summers that at places even the sun rays  fail to penetrate. The terraces are green with potato, peas, barley and  buck wheat. Wild roses of white, yellow and red hues with expanses of  alpine flowers deck the slopes in an unforgettable feast of colours.

There  is a swampy patch on the river side where the Siberian wild duck and  geese halt when on their way back from the Indian plains. Snow trout is  also available in the village near the river side.

Behind  the ridge on which the village is situated is the famous and most  propitiated Gyephang peak. Lord Gyephang or Ghepan is the presiding  deity of Lahaul–the protector of people. In olden days people of Lahaul  fought, their wars under the banner of Lord Gyephang. The temple of Lord  Ghepan is in this village. The temple is not open to outsiders. Once in  two/three years the deity is taken out of the temple in a procession.

A  little short of the village is the Sissu nullah which flows down a  narrow gorge from tho Gyephang peak glaciers.

Across  the river one can see the beautiful Sissu fall cascading over the cliff  from the high valley between the two mountains. A suspension bridge over  the river provides easy access to this picturesque fall. Very good  photograph of the fall can be had from the road just short of the P.W.D.  rest house.

Two  fountain slabs dating back to 1l th or 12th C. AD can also be seen in  this village.


The  village is situated at a distance of 18 kms from Keylong, the district  headquarters along the right bank of the river Chandra. Situated at an  altitude of 3160 m. on a fairly level expanse of land this hamlet is  large as compared to other villages in the valley. The village is  surrounded by thick foliage of poplars and willows. From Sissue to  Gondhla land is cultivable and fertile. Between these two places the  whole mountain side from the peaks over 6090 m. to the river bed below  3050 m. is awe-inspiring. Glaciers and snowfields overhanging the  precipices make them one of the finest in the world.

House of  the Thakur of Gondhla, called the Gondhla castle or fort, attracts a  large number of tourists. The Present Thakur Fateh Chand would like the  tourists to believe the Fort is about 20 generations old, but according  to the District Gazateer of Lahaul and Spiti the fort was built in 1700  A.D. by Raja Man Singh of Kullu whose influence stretched upto the  Lingti plains beyond the Baralacha-la. This Raja also married a daughter  of the Gondhla family to cement his ties with the Thakur. ,

The  castle is an example of the indigenous timber bonded stone style of the  Western Himalayas consisting of alternate courses of stone and wooden  beams and cemented together with wet clay. This seven storey high  edifice is topped by a wooden verandah which runs round the upper  storey. This is some thing like the Swiss Chalet. The staircases in the  building are partially notched wooden logs. The building has many  apartments which can comfortably accommodate more than 100 people.

The  fifth storey was exclusively meant for the Thakur. It consisted of  personal prayer chamber and a verandah from where the Thakur used to  listen to the public and later pronounce his judgements. Once the walls  of the prayer chamber were painted all over in stone colours. Forty  volumes of Kangyur can still be seen littered around and carelessly  stacked on a wooden rack. Ganesha as the main deity carved on the facade  of the prayer chamber. In one of the prayer chambers the window  connecting the outer room is an exquisite work of wood carving. The ’jali’  (net) carved on a single piece of wood looks exactly like the cane work.

Raja Man  Singh of Kullu is believed to have stayed in the sixth storey of  the-fort in 1720 A.D. when he was on his way to Trilokinath Temple in  Udaipur. Remains of the kitchen and utencils can still be seen in the  room.

Several  weapons including bows, arrows, quivers, catapults, guns and canons  beside other articles of antique value can be seen rusting in the

apartments.  Age old costumes, furniture and idols are also strewn around in a state  of neglect. The Thakur is negotiating with the Department of Language  and Culture of Himachal Pradesh to sell it as he finds it difficult to  maintain this structure.

Another  interesting article to be seen in possession of the Thakur is Sharab  Raldi, i.e., “the sword of wisdom” as Sharab means wisdom and Raldi  means a sword. Sword of wisdom (sanskrit Pragya Kharga) has great  importance among the Tibetans. Manjushri is the Tibetaa god of wisdom  and he is always portrayed carrying this sword of wisdom in his right  hand.  According to the Thakur this

Lama when that ancestor had fled to Tibet sick of the designs of the designs   of the  local people. This sword seems to have been built in the  Toledo technique of spain. This technique is stated to be superior to  the Sheffield technique. In Toledo thin steel wires are beaten with a  hammer to obtain the desired shape of a sword or other like weapon. One  can really observe thin lines in the leng th of the sword. Earlier this  sword was never shown to the outsiders but now an insistent visitor can  see this prize sword of the Thakur.          Godhla Fort

sword was given to one of his ancestors by  His Holiness Dalai

The  village gompa is of historical importance. Every year in the month of  July a fair is held for two days. On the first day the famous Chham or  devil dance is enacted. Large number of people turn out to witness the  performance.

Near  the Govt School there is a boulder bearing greater than life size rock  carvings of some deities. Local people ascribe the work to the Pandavas  of the great epic the Mahabharata. But these figures resemble some  Buddhist deities, which is yet to be ascertained.

In  Gondhla there is a P.W.D. rest house which is surrounded by willows. No  eating joint is available in the village.


The  village is situated above the confluence of the rivers Chandra and Bhaga  in the Pattan valley some 7 kms away from Keylong. Revenue and  settlement records reveal that Tandi was founded by Raja Rana Chand Ram  under the name of Chandi which over the years got corrupted into Tandi.
There are atleast three mythological  stories connected with Tandi. First, Tandi is believed to means Tan  Dehi,i.e., giving up of the body. This is associated with Draupadi,  the wife of Pandav. as, who left her body at this place. Second, this is  believed that Rishi Vashishtha who meditated near the hot water springs  of Manali was cremated at this confluence; hence named Tandi, i.e., body  consumed. According to the third, Chandra and Bhaga were son and  daughter of the Moon and the Sun gods respectively. They were in love  with each other. To perform their celestial marriage they decided to  climb the Baralacha-la and from there run in opposite directions  encircling a vast tract of Lahaul. Thus flowing south-east and  south-west both met at Tandi to enter the wedlock.


Another village above the confluence is  Gushal which looks extermely beautiful when seen from Tupchiling or  Kargha. The confluence itself is best seen from Tupchiling, Kargha -and  Ghushal.


Keylong  is the district head quarters of Lahaul and Spifi. At an altitude of  3156 m. Keylong is situated on the main trade route between the Rohtang  and Baralacha passes above the Bhaga river. Most of the government  offices are located at Keylong. This is also the hub-centre of all  commercial activity with a regular bazaar. Naturally Keylong is the most  populated and busy village of the Lahaul valley. As far as communication  facilities are concerned, there are police and telegraph radio nets,  telephone exchange at Keylong and postal service throughout the valley.  There are three light TV  transmitter has been installed one in Sumnam  village, second in Baring & third in Udaipur. In the past Keylong was  home for the Moravian missionaries.

Lady Of  Keylong

During summers Keylong is very green  looking refreshingly striking against a backdrop of brown hills and snow  clad peaks. Because of this panoramic setting Lieut. Col., the Honble  C.G. Bruce, M.V.O. likened Keylong to a barbaric jewel–a roughly cut  emerald in a bronze and silver setting. There can not be a better simile  to describe the lush green charm of Keylong during summer’s. “It is  an oasis of green fields and willow planted water courses surrounded by  brown hills and snowy heights”.

There is a Cricuit House, a P.W.D. rest  house, a Sainik Rest House, a Tourist Bungalow and many hotels which  provide accommodation to the tourists. Several eating joints and  restaurants are also there for every taste.

Three of the best known monasteries  Tayul, Kardang and Sha-Shur are within a few kms. from this village.  Tourists may also like to visit the temple of the local deity Kelang  Wazir in the house of one  Sh. Nawang Dorje


This beautiful spot is 22 kms away from  Keylong and 4 kms ahead of Ghemur. The village is situated at the  junction of two nullahs with  the main river Bhaga. Jispa has a very large dry river-bed, a rarity in  Lahaul.

Just on the edge of the river Bhaga is a  small PWD rest house. Near this the river is shallow and plenty of trout  fish can be caught during summers. The place is virtually an angler’s  delight. Good juniper plantation is around this village.


Darcha  is situated at the junction of Yotche nullah and the Zangskar chhu which  takes off from the Shinkun la. Both these nullahs meet with the main  river Bhaga at this place. The valley broadens out from Darcha. The  altitude of Darcha is about 3500 m. which makes it an ideal base camp  for acclimatisation. Two days acclimatisation at this place will prove  useful for expeditions to Baralacha la and beyond. Darcha is the jumping  off point for treks to Padum over the Shinkun la or Baralacha la and  Phirtse la and for treks or mountaineering expeditions to Leh and peaks  of Chandra Bhaga series. However no tourist bungalow or rest house  facilities are available on either side of the nullahs. A police check  post is also there. Darcha is the last village where one can see sparse  growth of trees. Beyond Darcha not even a single tree can be seen on  either side of the highway. Landscape starts looking desolate and  absolutely barren.

Suraj Taal

Suraj  Taal or the lake of the Sun god is situated well on the summit of the  Baralacha la, a little  below an altitude of 16000 feet. The Bhaga river rises in this lake  which is situated in a beautiful natural amphitheatre just below the  highway. “During winters it remains in the grip of a pall of ice untidy  with lumps of frozen snow and jutting stones”. But in the summer season  this tarn comes back to its glorious charm, the deep blue of its icy  waters reflecting craggy mountains and snowy heights. This is an ideal  halting place for having a bite that one might be carrying. No shops or  dhabas are available around this place.


The natural lake of Chandrataal is situated at about 14,000 ft above msl  between a low ridge and about  nine kms from the Kunzom pass. The  lake lies in a broad grassy plain which in ancient times was a glacier.  The lake is about a kilometre in length and half of it in breadth. Its  circumambulation is five kms long. There is a brownish patch “Samundari  Tapu” in the middle of  the lake which a number of people have tried to reach but in vain. There  is a story of a mermaid living in the glacial lake. This is also said  that a shepherd from Hansa village in the Spiti valley fell in love with  the fairy and spent some time with her under the water. Cranes and ducks  abound in the lake.

Chandra Taal is a  favourite halting place for the shepherds because of rich growth of  grass. The water in the lake is so clear that stones at its bottom are  easily visible.
Alpine vegetation grows on  the surrounding moraines in summer. This lake freezes during the winter  season. Its waters are crystal clear and free from pollution. A number  of temples exist along the periphery of the lake.


This  sub-divisional headquaters is situated at the junction of the mighty  Mayar nullah with the main river Chandrabhaga. Situated 53 kms away  from Keylong, earlier this village was known as Margul or Markul.  Around 1695 it was renamed Udaipur when Raja Udai Singh of Chamba  (1690-172’8) raised it to the status of a district centre in the  Chamba-Lahaul which his father Chatter Singh had annexed to his  Chamba state.

Good kail-blue  pine forests can be seen all around the village. Since the altitude  is low, apples, walnuts, apricots, etc. are grown in the area. This  village is warm but avalanches-prone; the latter making it  unsuitable for district headquaters. However Udaipur  offers the most thickly forested and green scenery in Lahaul.  Hermann Goetz who visited this area in 1939 complimented the natural  charm of this place by comparing its scenery to the Swiss scenery.

This place  attracts a lot of tourists and pilgrims to its two unique temples,  namely, Trilokinath and Markula Devi temples.
Trilokinath temple is  representative of the Kashmiri-Kannauj style of, Lalitaditya of Kashmir  (725-756). Most of the Trilokinath temple is of much later period, but  the column bases of the original porch of the sanctuary are of a very  special type characteristic of the reign of Lalitaditya. This Shiva  temple was transformed into a Buddhist shrine by Padma Sambhava.  However, according to Goetz its present Lamaistic image of  Avalokiteshvara-Trilokinath cannot be earlier than the 12th C. This  temple continues to attract both the Hindu and the Buddhist pilgrims. In  the centre of the compound one can still see the Nandi Bull of Lord  Shiva. There is also a drain in a wall of the temple at the level of the  platform in the sanctorum which was probably built at the time of  construction to drain out the water or milk which was poured over the  Shiva.

The temple is built  in the classical style introduced in the hills in the 7th and 8th C. As  is typical to the style this temple consists of a curvilinear stone  tower (shikhara) crowned  with the characteristic ’amalka’ (imitating  a segmented gourd). Like plains there is no pillared hall (mandapa) in  the hills perhaps owing to non-availability of clear ground.

Every year in the month of August a  festival named Pauri is  held there for three days when followers of both religions gather to  offer prayers.

The Markula  Devi temple goes  back to Ajayvarman’s reign in Kashmir, though no originalwork of so  early a date survives. But part of the Markula temple has been copied during  repairs in the 11/12th and 16th C. The phase of Kashmiri art in the 11th  and 12th C in its transition to the Lamaistic art of Western Tibet is  represented by the inner facade of the temple; main characteristic of  this transitional phase being three headed Vishnu images.

Markula’s  wood carvings belong to two different periods, the earlier one  consisting of the facade of the sanctum sanctorum and the ceiling and  four main pillars of the mandapa; arid the later one consisting of two  additional pillars, the dwarpala statues  on both sides of the facade, window panels and the architraves  supporting the ceiling. The exterior of the temple is most ordinary as  it had to be renewed time and again because of vagaries of nature. The  temple is the usual structure of timber-bonded stone. The temple is  covered with a steep gable roof of wooden shingles in a steep pyramid  looking like the Shikhara temples in the plains. The interior, however,  is rich in artistic quality.

The wall panels depict scenes from the Mahabharata,  Ramayana, Sunderkand,  Yuddhakand, grant of ground by Raja Bali to Vaaman, three headed  incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Churning of the ocean (Samudramanthan)Amritpaan,  etc.

The ceiling consists of nine panels of  different size and shape. Eight of these border the big centre piece.  The centre piece, is in the Lantern style. The ’kirtimukha’ masks  on this centre piece are characteristic of the 7th and 8th C. Four  figural panels on the four basic directions depict Gandharvas busy with  their mates and holding objects like crowns, bracelets, jewels and charnaras, etc.  Their dance, poses are those of the Bharta  Natya andthe costumes resemble the late Gupta period. Also shown are  Nataraj  and Gauri with dancing Ganas. Shiva on both sides is flanked by  his alter egos, the Bhairavas. The  next panel deviates from the Hindu pantheon or myth for it represents  the “Assault of Mara”. In the centre Buddha is shown sitting on the Vajrasana inBhumisparshasana calling  the Earth goddess to witness his victory over Mara or  the god of Lust and death.

The facade of the temple is most richly,  elaborately and intricately carved. The niches of the door jambs have  been carved into complicated gables of late Kashmiri style. The facade  displays, the Ganga, the Yamuna, several Yakshas and. Kinnars, ten  incarnations of Lord Vishnu the Navgrahas and Lord Surya (the sun god).  The Sun god is repeatedly shown on his chariot drawn by seven horses  making it explicit that the temple was dedicated to Lord Surya.

The silver idol of Kali in her aspect as Mahishasurmardini was  installed by Thakur Himpala in 1569-70. The statue was cast by one  Panjamanaka Jinaka from Bhadravah. The workmanship of the statue cannot  be called exquisite because the bodies of the goddess and the buffallo  look bloated. The statue head is too big and her Crown resembles the  ceremonial headgear of a Tibetan lama. The enclosing frame suggests  brass idols of the 15th and 16th C. from Rajasthan, the top of it-the  backs of early Moghul thrones. The impact of the Moghul and Rajput  styles is understandable which perhaps penetrated via Balor which then  had some control over Bhadravah. The Tibetan element is also not  surprising in a frontier area like Lahaul where Tibetan Lahaulis treat  Markula Devi as rDo-rje phag-mo (sanskrit Vajravarahi). Previous to this  installation Lahaul had been for several centuries under the Ladakhi  supremacy, and it was then that the Lamaistic sculpture was introduced.  At the time of its reconversion into a Hindu shrine it was natural to  seIect an image of Kali because of its superficial similarity to  Vajravarahi. The poor and uneducated local population could hardly make  any distinction between the Lamaistic and the Hindu interpretations of  the great goddess. This Hindu revivalist style was patronised by Raja  Pratap Singh (1558-82) of Chamba. Selection of episodes from the  Ramayana and Mahabharata is typical to this style.

Local population believes this temple to  be the work of the master craftsman who built the famous Hidimba Temple  at Manali for Bahadur Singh of Kullu. Historically this theory sounds  plausible because Pratap Singh was the son-in-law and close fried and  ally of Bahadur Singh. There is striking similarity between many figures  and other details of the later wood carvings to the relief’s of the  Hidimba Devi Temple.

This unique shrine is the last wooden  temple built fundamentally in the tradition of the early 8th C. This is  a must-visit place.