EP 9 - Dhankar to Pin Valley | Dhankar monastery, | Pin Valley, Spiti Tour
Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host Harish Bali! Right now I am standing outside the Dhankar monastery in Spiti. I have with me Rajesh Bhai! Juley! Juley! Rajesh Bhai lives in a nearby village. He is acting as our guide in this monastery visit. Before seeking any more information from him....
...let me show you the surrounding environment of this place. Last evening, while I was looking around at these vertical hills... ...it seemed these were made only of clay. But this morning, as I reached here after a short walk... ...from my hotel... ...and took a closer look... ...these mountains seem to be semi-rock in composition. These hills are vertical and pointed at the top. Rajesh Bhai, this monastery that we are going to visit... ...according to my information... ...this monastery is one of about 100 such structures... ...in the world, which have been declared endangered. The literal meaning of the Dhankar monastery is... ..."Dhang" means a cliff, like we are standing on one right now... ...and "Kar" means a fort. Was there a fort situated here earlier? Absolutely Sir! You must already know that Dhankar used to be...
...the ancient capital of Spiti. Yeah, right! I've read it somewhere that Dhankar was the old capital of Spiti. Afterwards the erstwhile king shifted his capital to Kaza.
Yes sir! So, we are going to go into the monastery. There is a board outside the monastery. It reads "First of formation and last of dissolution." What is its meaning? This saying depicts the belief of the locals.
It means that this monastery, the first such structure to be built... ...in the Spiti valley would be the last to dissolve. Let us go in. Yes, let us.
I can see some information about Dhankar monastery written... ...right outside the monastery gate. This monastery was built by the first ruler of Spiti, King Nimagon... ...and his son Dichok Gon. It was renovated again during the 11th century. Let us go in and visit the monastery. We reached the first floor of the monastery.
A short while ago I told you "Dhang" means a cliff. So, we are actually standing upon a cliff right now. Look at how steep this cliff is. Looking in this direction, I can see a wall. Devotees must've been doing a "parikrama" around this monastery...
...during old times? Yes Sir! Due to gradual erosion of the mountainside, that path is now lost. The government is making an effort now to save this ancient structure. To protect the monastery! Yes, to protect the structure. That would involve building a boundary wall around the monastery. Absolutley right Sir! Nice view! The Dhankar monastery is associated with the Gelukpa sect of Buddhism...
...and its principle deity is in 1st floor You will find the statues of Khando Chhujang inside. And nobody is allowed to go into that room except the Head Lama. Only Head Lama can visit that room? Yes! For prayer ceremony. Great! Let me show you the view that we are seeing right now. From the left side the Pin river is flowing in and...
....from the right side, the Spiti river is flowing in. Down below you can also see the Sangam (confluence) point. The patches of land in between the rivers, is it mud or sediments? As the erosion carries on, mud as well as sediments get collected around this point. The rivers are flowing through in a zig-zag pattern. Yes Sir! Lovely! Shall we go inside? Yes Sir! We are inside the temple. So far, I've visited 3 sections in the temple.
One is this cave, right there, in which... ...Lama ji meditates and prays. This section is a temple dedicated to Maitreya ji,... ...also known as Future Buddha. There is a prayer room on this side. Though tourists are not allowed inside, but we were able to...
...see the prayer room from outside. Someone told me that this place had some more paintings too. If you go up from this side... ...there are many such ancient paintings there. Can we go and see them? Yes sure! We've climbed to a room, which has some paintings on display. You said these are called "Nangazen." Yes, these are Nangazen paintings.
Once a year, a "medicine worship" takes place here. Some of these paintings look recent but... ...some of them look really ancient. Some of the finer works are yet to be renovated but...
...the larger paintings are renovated. Great! Let us go back now. There is a hotel located 200 m from the monastery. Your hotel is called "Hotel Dhankar Heights."
Can you show us one of the rooms? Do you make tea with the seabuckthorn? Yes sir! We will serve you that too. Will you? Yes! Good! Rajesh bhai, the room is quite spacious. What is the tariff? Rs. 1500 sir. 1500 rupees.
Is there a balcony too? Ohh wow! There is the monastery. Very good! The snow-covered peak on the left side is called Manirang Mountain. Yesterday, I was told that this is a small village... ....with just 400 residents. Rajesh Bhai got made this seabuckthorn tea for us. It is the first time that I am watching this syrup made of... ...seabuckthorn and the tea as well. This is the bottle.
What is its cost? Rs. 450. 450! Will we get to buy this bottle in Kaza? Yes you will Sir. I will.
I want to see this plant. You will get to see this plant along the Spiti river. Okay, I will try that too.
Let us taste it. It is sweet. Have you added sugar? Yes. Otherwise, what does it taste like? It is slightly sweet.
Slightly sweet. I would like to try it without sugar once to... ...understand the taste of the berry. However, it does feel like I'm having a herbal drink. Overall good taste! Yes, it is very good Sir.
It is herbal, right? How far is the Lalung monastery from here? 7 km. Okay. We are headed to that place. I will join you again in a short while. Thanks Rajesh Bhai.
We've reached the temple. The Lama ji is not here right now. But we have with us a local villager, Mr. Urgen. He will take us inside the temple and... ...also give us information about this place. As far as I know, this monastery is a part of the Dhankar monastery. Yes! Isn't it? Yes.
What is the population of this village? The population is about 450. 450! Let us go inside. This is Guru Padmasambhava Ji This is Maitreyi Buddha (Future Buddha). This is one of the ancient Lama ji We visited the monasteries in Kalpa, Nako and Tabo.
But none of those monasteries had so many deities together in a hall. This is the first monastery that we've visited in the past 4 days... ...where we can see so many deities at one place.
It is one of the oldest monasteries of Spiti. I can also see some wall paintings here. These paintings look ancient. Same goes for the statues. When we visited Kalpa, Nako and Tabo...
...we were told that Lochava Ringchen Zangpo... ...got 108 such temples built all over the world. And all those temples were built within one night. Is this temple one of those 108? Yes, it is. It is a good thing that we came to visit here. We got to visit such a holy temple. When you will visit this temple, you'll be told...
...that this tree is also very ancient. It is believed that Lochava ji stuck his wooden mace into the ground... ...here and very next day, a fully-grown tree was standing in its place. This temple was built thereafter. This is the information I've received so far. We've travelled 8 km from Lalung and... ...we stopped our car here, to see this waterfall. You can see this beautiful waterfall here.
And it is falling into the Lingti river. The Lingti village is located at some distance from this waterfall. Look at the current of this river. This river seems to be joining the Spiti river after a while.
We will spend 10-15 minutes here, show you the views around and... ...then look for a lunch opportunity in the Lingti village... ...otherwise we will continue our journey further. Our driver told us that between Lalung and Pin Valley... ...the only lunch option is available in Lingti village. That too if the eatery is open. Thankfully, when we reached here, this dhaba was open.
Now they've only maggi available right now. So that is what we've ordered for ourselves. Then we will leave for Pin valley. When I asked the lady who runs this dhaba...
...she told me that they operate this dhaba... ...only for a couple of days in a week. Most of the time they work in their fields. After finishing maggi, we will leave for Pin Valley. We have reached a point on the road from where... ...if we go 16 km straight, we will reach Kaza.. ...and if we cross this bridge and come to this side... ...we will reach Pin Valley after 34 km. You can see written on the gate behind me... ..."Welcome to Pin Valley." We have to go to Mud village in Pin Valley.
You can see our car parked on the other side of the bridge. We travelled from that direction along this road. We decided to stop here and enjoy the strong breeze. I also asked the driver to relax for some time. Later, it will take us an hour to reach Pin Valley.
Right now I am not sure whether we will be spending night... ...in Pin Valley or not. That will be decided only when we reach there. We met this lady while we were on way to Pin Valley. She needed to reach the Sangnam village so...
...we gave her a lift. We've reached the Sangnam village. While talking to her on the way here... ...we learned a lot about the customs and culture of the region. So, you are a resident of Kinnaur. Out of all the things, the most interesting aspect we learnt was... ...about marriage. About 60-70% of local couples get married twice...
...to the same person. Yes! So, instead of me, it would be better... ...if you would tell us about it. One of the weddings is a simple ceremony. But as every parent's dream is to wed their... ...son or daughter in a grand way.... ...and give them gifts too. So, parents spend some more years collecting a decent amount of money... ...so that they can celebrate a grand wedding ceremony.
This is what an acceptable practice here. Usually what is the time gap between the simple and grand weddings. Once the simple wedding ceremony takes place...
...the grand ceremony is help within 5-6 years of that I've heard that 1000-1500 people attend wedding feast... ...usually in Himachal Pradesh. Yes! People even from nearby villages attend the ceremony. So, do same number of guests attend both the ceremonies? For the simple wedding, only immediate family and...
...all the villagers are invited. However, for the grand ceremony, relatives, far-off neighbouring villagers... ...as well as others are invited. We usually send out wedding invitations for that. Alright! I am 52 years old right now.
I got married when I was 18 years old and I have 3 sons. I got married the second time when I was 38. So, your kids must've been grown up too. Yes Sir, my eldest son was studying in 12th standard at that time.
Alright! Yes! I've never heard of such a custom before today. But it is a common custom around here Sir. In Kinnaur? Yes! We had to drop her here. And I thought, instead of me, it would be better...
...if she narrated this custom herself. It was a pleasure meeting you. We learnt a lot about Kinnaur and its culture from you. Sure! Thank you!...
Thank you! Ever since we took the turn for Pin Valley... ...we've been travelling along this Pin river all the way. We've stopped 4 km short of Mud village. To see this wooden bridge. For the past some time, we've been travelling in a valley area.
The mountains here are very different. No sign of dust anywhere! I can see small bushes growing along the mountain sides... ...which doesn't allow dust to fly. Though the road is narrow but..
...still wide enough for two vehicles to pass at once. Look at the water current, it is very fast. The river span is very wide, almost as wide as a mountain pass. Looking at the river is a pleasant experience.
Let me cross this bridge and I will say hello to you from the other side. I have to hold on to the bridge in order to keep myself steady. By God, this bridge is very dangerous. It is made of wooden planks connected with iron rods. The river is flowing in this direction. If I stand opposite to it and look, it feels like I am going against the flow.
And if I look into the direction of the flow... ...it seems as if the bridge is also floating on the water. While walking on the bridge... ...at times I felt either I would fall off or the bridge will fall. The locals use this bridge to go to the other side... ...as you can see there are some houses there as well. Right now, there is no one else here. Just this board...
---but no person is available here to give us the... ...traditional dress to click selfie. Overall, it was a wonderful experience We've almost reached Mud village. We've stopped the car again. Though I saw a few streams between the bridge and this spot... ...but none of those was this big. I could not resist stopping here and enjoying this stream properly.
Look at this magnificent view. This stream is flowing down from high in the mountains... ...with the water winding its way through rocks. This place is so good. The weather here is quite cold. I've worn the jacket.
You can see a little snow up there on that mountain. There is snow on this side of the mountain too. This shows that we are at a higher altitude.
Great! I can see a government bus coming in this direction. It means this place has bus connectivity too. I will find out about the frequency of the bus service ... ...once we reach Mud village. Finally we've reached Mud village.
I am standing outside the hotel in which... ...we are going to stay. I have with me the owner of the hotel, Sonam Bhai. The name of this hotel is Pin Parvati Hotel & Restaurant.
His whatsapp number is also given but... ...there is network connectivity issue in this area. So you must be managing through someone. Yes! Yeah! I just saw that none of the mobile operators'...
....network works here. This has been the case for the past 12 km. Sonam Bhai, let me tell you frankly. We began our journey from Shimla. From there to here, today is the 9th day of our journey. The view from this place is definitely among the... ...top 5 views of this 9-day journey. Top 5 views! Just imagine the view that we are enjoying right now.
The time is past 7 pm. Are those peas grown in the fields down there? Yes! Peas is the only crop grown in this area. These mountains are different in that...
...there is small vegetation on them. I had told you a while ago that there is no dust around here. With a strong breeze blowing, the weather remains cold. There are 3-4 guest houses on this road,...
...one of which belongs to him. There were other guest houses too but... ...his is the oldest and our driver suggested... ...we should stay here because he would also... ...serve us some traditional food. Since I love to eat traditional food wherever I go... ...we decided to stay here. You can spend some time thinking what you would serve us in food. We will talk to you again in 15 minutes.
I will cook for you Thenthuk, local pizza! Oh! Local pizza! Yes! Okay, these two are done! Then there is veg momos, etc. There are other dishs too. One would be local pizza.
I am sure it would be worth eating. You can think of some more dishes. Till then, we will put our luggage in the room. Okay! I can see a roadways bus standing there. Let me find out where it is coming from. Brother, where are you coming from? We are coming from Kaza.
From Kaza. Yes! So, Kaza is about 50 km from here. Yes! So, how many buses ply daily? Only one, it leaves at 4 pm from Kaza to Mud. It leaves at 4 pm and reaches here at 6 pm? Yes.
And return journey to Kaza? The bus leaves at 6.30 am every day. Only one bus! One bus! Yes, the same one will leave in the morning. Ohh! That means if you have to travel between Kaza and Mud,... ...you need to know the timing of bus service. 4 pm from Kaza and 6.30 am from here. How many buses ply from Reckong Peo to Kaza? Only one bus. Only one bus between Reckong Peo and Kaza? Yes! 7.30 from Peo.
From Peo at 7.30 am? Yes! It must be a 10 hour journey? Yes, almost 10 hours. So, you will spend the night in this village.
Yes! Nice! We will also be staying in the village tonight. So, we will come to say goodbye to you tomorrow morning. Okay? It was nice meeting you! Sonam Bhai runs a homestay nearby. And his residence is next to it. Right now, I am standing inside the kitchen of his residence.
Sonam Bhai, his daughter-in-law and there is one helper too. What are you cooking here? Local Pizza! Local Pizza! Wow! And here you are making Sonali. Yes, it is a local dish. Let us see how you are preparing this? Please tell me how this pizza is made.
For instance, is this wheat flour? Yes, it is. Does it contain refined flour too? No. Only wheat flour. Just some yeast and salt. You add yeast and salt to wheat. Yes! Alright.
After that, we leave the dough for 2 hours. The dough rises and then I make pizza base out of it. Then we cut it like this Okay, adding yeast to wheat flour makes it ferment.
And then you cook it just like chapati. Wow! Amazing! Homemade pizza is ready! Let us taste it now. Ohh! Now that I touched it...
...I can feel the outer surface is extra crispy. You can see the melted cheese from this side. I liked its taste. Finely chopped onion, tomatoes, capsicum. Cooked over a tawa (iron griddle).
Topped with cheese slice, which is melted now. Just like it happens with a normal pizza. This is a very good attempt at making a homemade pizza. So, I liked this taste very much. Sonam Bhai, I liked the pizza very much.
So, now you are cooking Shonali. Shunali, it is Shunali! Shunali. Alright. I saw that you had some wheat dough. You rolled it out in a long shape, like this. Now you will boil it in water. Yes! First of all, you'll add butter to the pan.
Yes! This is a good quantity of butter. More the butter, more tasty is the dish. This paneer is made with boiled buttermilk.
Alright! You've added crushed garlic to it. Yes. Now you are adding finely powdered Chhurpi to it.
Yes! What is it called locally? Shurship! Now I remember! Okay! Sugar! Yes, now goes the sugar. Wow! Now I will add this butter. Wow! Our second dish is ready as well. It is called Shunali.
I saw him preparing it and for an instance... ...I was amazed at the process. It is a good thing to try for the first time. Only thing is, one would need to eat it multiple times.. ...before one can understand its taste.
Since I am eating it for the first time, it feels like a little raw inside. However, that is the not the reality. It is well-cooked but feels a little raw to me. It happens that when you eat something for the first time... ...it doesn't appeal your palate immediately. It is sweet because of sugar.
And it is drenched in butter. The garlic added to it is lending a very unique taste. Normally you wouldn't expect a dish to have both sugar and garlic. I am eating such a combination for the first time. Especially because of garlic in it. Now is the time to say bye-bye.
After finishing the food, we will go to our hotel. Our hotel is at a walking distance from here. The weather is cold, I've already worn a sweater.
The homestay owner also told me that during winters... ...this area experiences 8-10 feet layer of snowfall. It is summer season right now and if I talk of the temperature...
... at this moment... ...it wouldn't be more than four degrees. That should tell you how cold the weather is here. Tell us your views about today's episode. As always, I shall wait for your comments. Let me say bye-bye to you. You will be able to see our tomorrow's journey...
...in the next episode. That's it! Thanks for your time. To be honest, I am dog-tired. We have been climbing for the past one hour.
I am feeling breathless after taking a few steps. I think the oxygen level is also below normal. It is because we are at a higher altitude. I am going to take a 10 minute break here... ...to catch my breath & relax... ...and then I will start climbing again.