Located in the Spiti Valley of Himachal, Kaza is also the capital of Lahaul and Spiti District. The wanderlust inside you will feel at peace. The snow-clad mountains, picturesque barren landscape and the flowing majestic rivers steal the hearts of every traveller ever setting a foot in this undiscovered town of Kaza. Monasteries, Gompas and other historic wonders add mystical beauty to this undiscovered town.
Today, this undiscovered town of Kaza is a wonderful blend of scenic beauty and unique ancient culture that will leave you in awe with its mystery. The best time to visit Kaza is in Summers, from June to September.
Rightly known as the ‘Little Tibet’, I give you 8 places that you must visit in Kaza:
1. Ajanta of Himalayas – Tabo
Around 48 km from the undiscovered town of Kaza, Tabo village houses the country’s oldest monastery and caves. Do not be fooled with the muddy and dull appearance on the outside. The inside of the monasteries boasts of intricate paintings, murals, statues and thangka art. At the height above 3000 m above sea level, the significance of it comes right after by Tholing Gompa in Tibet in the ranking.
Part of the gompa is a thousand years old caves. Believed to be the safe home to the monks during the harsh cold season, Tabo Caves sits spectacularly on the hillside. Now, it acts as a dwelling for meditation of monks. The narrow openings, small rooms and ventilation windows in the rooms speak of brilliant architecture.
Tabo village also houses a monastery museum. The museum houses a huge statue of Buddha Maitreyi who is believed to come back here and teach the real meaning of Dharma.
2. Peaceful Ambience of Chandratal Lake
Translated to ‘Lake of the Moon’ because of its crescent shape, Chandratal Lake sits at an altitude of 4300 m. Summon your inner photographer for this paradise. Situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau, Chandratal Lake looks over the scenic stream of Chandra River.
The Lake changes its colour from reddish to orange to blue to emerald green as the day ends. Vast stretches of green meadows nearby provides an ideal spot for camping. The sun’s light reflecting on the surface of the astounding Chandratal Lake makes it seem crystal clear. Legends have it, Lord Indra took away Yudhishthira to swarga (heaven) on his chariot near this lake.
3. Temple of Shiva – Trilokinath Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Trilokinath Temple is definitely one of the must-visit places. Located on the banks of Tunde Village, the temple holds importance to both Hindu and Buddhists. According to one of the stories, the temple was originally dedicated to Lord Shiva but was transformed into a Buddhist temple by Padmasambhava.
The temple boasts of intricate architecture. Stone carvings on walls, pillars and doors awe-strikes its visitors. The temple sits on a cliff and offers amazing views of the surroundings.
4. Endangered Heritage – Dhankar Monastery
Also referred to as Dankhar, Drangkhar or Dhangkar Gompa, the monastery stands tall at a staggering height of a 12,774 ft. The monastery provides a 360-degree view of the whole Spiti Valley. Overlooking the Spiti and Pin rivers, Dhankar monastery offers a breathtaking view of the majestic mountains and nearby villages.
Built 1000 years ago on the edge of a cliff, the holy building attracts numerous visitors every year. Aside from the amazing views, it also stores a huge statue of Dhayan Buddha. A small museum of scriptures and murals adds to the magnetic beauty of this place. The monument is registered as the world’s 100 most endangered monuments.
5. Photographer’s Heaven – Kunzum Pass
A beautiful mountain pass at 15,000 ft remains to be one of the highest passes in the country. Especially popular for around 15 hairpin turns of the motorable road, the Kunzum Pass is a breathtaking sight to behold. It serves as a gateway to the beautiful Spiti valley via Kullu and Lahaul.
Referred to as Kunzum La by the locals, the roads offer a panoramic view of the world’s second-largest glacier, Bara-Shigri Glacier. A jaw-dropping vista of Chandrabhaga Range and a spectacular view of the Spiti valley makes Kunzum Pass a photographer’s dream.
There is also a Goddess Kunzum Devi who is said to protect all the travellers from anything bad. Riders generally make a stop to pay her respect and seek blessing.
6. The Rare World – Pin Valley National Park
Located amidst the snowy arid mountains of Lahaul and Spiti district, Pin Valley National Park is popular for its diverse flora and fauna. The Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve ranges from about 3,500 metres near Ka Dogri to more than 6,000 metres at its pinnacle. Famous for its trek, it provides a thrilling and adventurous experience.
One of its rarest features includes the endangered snow leopard and their prey, the Ibex. There are also Siberian Ibex, Bharal, red fox, weasel and marten that call this place their humble abode. Several species of birds also inhabit in the region such as pika, snow cock, bearded vulture, golden eagle, griffon, Himalayan chough and raven.
The sprawling meadows and the valleys spread out below provide a view that you will not be forgetting anytime soon!
7. Shopaholics Haven – Keylong Market
For an amazing marketing experience, visit Keylong in Kaza. Keylong Market offers a plethora of woollen garments. Ranging from shawls, mufflers, stoles to baby shawls, ponchos and caps, there remains nothing that can’t be found here. Whether it is Angora or Pashmina yarn, do not miss out on driving hard bargains.
The items that are unique to the town and are popular among tourists are ceramic items, stone gems and local jewellery.
8. Key Monastery
Built near the Spiti River, the monastery stands for over 1000 years. Also known as the Kye Monastery and Ki Monastery, it is believed to have been founded by Dromton, who was a student of Atisha in the 11th century.
When you step inside, you will notice its beautiful walls covered with murals and paintings depicting the 14th-century monastic architecture. It is also popular for its rare manuscripts, unique wind instruments, idols and an impressive collection of weapons to protect itself.
Surrounded by beautiful snow-capped Himalayas, the monastery is visited by millions of devotees and tourists from all over the world who come here to seek inner peace. The undiscovered town of Kaza had borne many of Mughals attacks in the past. Yet Key Monastery never fell and still stands tall to promote its one true principle – peace.