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Lahaul Spiti District

Notes, Himachal

  • Headquarters of Lahaul Spiti- Keylong
  • Area of Lahaul Spiti District – 13833 sq km
  • Languages spoken in Lahaul Spiti – Bhoti, Manchad, Changsa & Gaheri
  • Lahaul Spiti became a district of Punjab in 1960
  • Lahaul is known by 3 different names- Lahaul, Garzha & Swangla
  • Famous monasteries of Lahaul includes Guru Ghantal, Kardang, Shashur, Tayul & Gemur
  • Meanings of word Lahaul – country of gods (Rahul Sanskrityayan) / country of passes
  • The name Lahaul is used since the 7th century AD.
  • Andrew Wilson, a European traveler called Lahaul “a valley of glaciers” in 1873.

Passes in Lahaul Spiti District

1. Rohtang Pass

  • 13500 ft above sea level
  • links Lahaul with Kullu
  • Rohtang means plain/field of corpses

2. Banghal Pass

  • lies between Lahaul & Bara Banghal
  • rarely used

3. Shing-dkon Pass

  • joins lahaul to zanskar

4. Baralacha Pass

  • pass with crossroads on the summit 
  • roads from Zanskar, Lahaul, Spiti & Ladakh meet on top of it.

5. Kugti pass

  • joins Lahaul & Bharmour
  • used mainly by Gaddi shepherds

6. Kunzam Pass

  • connects Lahaul & Spiti
  • Spiti river originates from here

Valleys in Lahaul Spiti District

1. Chandra Valley

  • locally called Rangoli 
  • Khoksar is the first village in the valley.

2. Bhaga Valley

  • locally called Gara valley

3. Chandrabhaga Valley

  • starts from Tandi
  • popularly known as Pattan valley
  • also called the orchard & granary of Lahaul.

Spiti has 4 distinct Regions

1. Sham

  • the lower region is situated on both sides of the river Spiti between its confluence with Lingti & its junction with Pare

2. Pin region

3. Bhar region

  • middle region

4. Tud region

  • higher region

Other Facts about Lahaul Spiti District

  • Spiti( the place of Mani) Si- Mani & Piti-place
  • Spiti in comparison to Lahaul is higher in elevation.
  • Kilta peak in North of spiti
  • Manirang peak in south
  • Geographically & Archaeologically, Spiti is a living museum.
  • Spiti valley is formed by the Spiti river, which rises on the slopes of Kunzam la (4520m) & ends at the river confluence with the Parechu near Sumdo.
  • The length of the valley from Kunzam pass to Sumdo is 150 km
    (Spiti river receives the water of many streams of which Guindi Nala, Pari Lungbi Chu, Pin river & Lingti river are the most important.)
  • Pin valley & Lingti valley are only partly inhabited.
  • Monasteries in the Spiti region include- Tabo, Kye & Dhankar.
  • Pin river joins Spiti near Dankar.
  • The river Zanskar rises in the extreme north of the Lahaul region. (falls in Bhaga river at Darcha)
  • Spiti is the main river of the Spiti region & flows in both the districts i.e. Lahaul Spiti & Kinnaur.
  • Meets river Satluj at Khab

Important Deities of Lahaul

  • Tribal deities Ghepang & Dabla are the most popular
  • others- Mipusha, Tangyur, Srowag, Zangdoulma, kyuling sall, etc.
  • Buzhens are the lamas who entertain people by acting, plays & chanting legends.

Religion of Lahaul Spiti District

  • Hinduism is the main religion in the Lahaul subdivision while Buddhism predominates in Spiti valley.
  • The introduction of Buddhism in the Lahaul & Spiti valleys actually dates back to the 8th century 
  • believed to be propagated by Padmasambhava the famous missionary from Udyana (a place near Kashmir).
  • According to ancient Tibetan books, Padam Sambhava visited Mandi and Lahaul during the 8th century and preached doctrines of Buddha and it was during this time, it is said that shrines of Triloknath and Guru Ghantal were founded.
  • It is said that Triloknath was originally a Shiva temple and a place of pilgrimage for Hindus.
  • Later on, the setting up of the white marble image of Avalokiteshvara is attributed to Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) of Udyana.
  • In Spiti valley too, the monastery at Tabo is also said to have come up under the patronage of a great Buddhist monk Padam Sambhava of the 8th century.
  • It is said that Buddhism spread widely in Lahaul during the 11th century A.D. when Buddhist Saints founded new monasteries and repaired old dilapidated ones.
  • The monasteries at Gumrang and Sissu were said to be constructed during this period by a famous Buddhist scholar and translator Ringchen Zangpo.
  • Later in the 16th century, two sub-sects; Lho-Drugpa and Drugpa in the valley came into being who have even survived today.

Economy of District Lahaul-Spiti

  • only 25% area is under cultivation.
  • People of Lahaul Spiti cultivate Buckwheat, Barley, wheat, cauliflower, cabbage & cash crops like Kuth, potatoes, hops.
  • Potatoes and other vegetables were first introduced by Moravian missionaries at Keylong in 1857.
  • (The Moravian mission was German in origin but became international in character and funds exclusively came from England.)
  • Dr. A.D.H. Francke deserves a special mention who wrote some of the books on Lahaul and its history and the development of language etc. 
  • His book Antiquities of Indian Tibet contains a wealth of information about Lahaul.
  • Kuth cultivation was introduced in 1925.
  • Zo and Zomo (Male and female respectively) are a progeny of a cross between cow and yak.
  • Lahaul-Spiti has earned the distinction of achieving the highest per hectare production of Potato relegating the Netherland to the second position.
  • Ratanjot is found in Spiti valley.
  • Important forest products of Lahaul are Karu, Patish, Kala Zira, etc.
  • A fruit cum demonstration farm at Tabo.

Miscellaneous

  • In 1869, a branch post office was opened at Keylong.
  • The first regular school was started by district board Kangra in 1919 with Urdu medium. 
  • In 1935, a second post office was opened at “Lote” in Pattan valley.
  • Seed farm, a research unit, was established at Gorma in Pattan valley in 1960.
  • There is a Kuth and dry fruit research unit at Keylong.

Famous Fairs of Lahaul Spiti District

1. Ladarcha

  • the annual fair held near the village of Kibber in the month of July.

2. Sissu fair

  • a common fair celebrated all over the Buddhist Himalayas.
  • At Shashur Gompa (Monastry) , it is held in June
  • at Gemur Gompa in July
  • at Mani Gompa of Gondhla in the month of August.

3. Phagli or Kun fair

  • pattan valley
  • held in the month of February.

4. Pori fair

  • held in Pattan valley at Trilokinath temple in the month of August.
  • Like Nathwara temple of Rajasthan at Trilokinath temple, a lamp always keep burning in pure ghee.

Famous Dances of Lahaul Spiti District

1. Shehni 

  • in this form men & women both take part in dancing together.

2. Ghure

  • there is no arm linking by dancers
  • while moving in a group they move in circles & semicircles

3. Garphi

  • oldest form of dance in Lahaul Spiti
  • In this dance, movements are neither regular nor arranged.

4. Betas 

  • a community of professional dancers.

Important Festivals of Lahaul Spiti District

1. Bumkhor

  • religious festival related to agriculture
  • People believe that if the religious books are taken around the fields, there will be bumper crops.

2. Halda/Losar

  • Halda is a (new year festival of Lahaul) celebrated in the month of January. 
  • To the tribals of this district, Halda has significance as Deepawali as to the people of the rest of India. 
  • The festivities center around ‘Shiskar Apa’ who is the goddess of wealth in Lamastic Pantheon as to the people of this region. 
  • The day for Halda is fixed by the Lamas.

3. Khun/Phagli

  • is the biggest festival of Pattan valley
  • It has more or less the same importance in Pattan valley what “Shivratri” has elsewhere in India. 
  • Khun generally falls at the end of January or early February. 
  • The name of the festival has been derived from that of the month of Phagun’ or Phalgun’, the last month of winter.

4. Gotsi (Gochi) 

  • This festival is of Chandra and Bhaga valleys particularly. 
  • This is celebrated in the month of February at a house where a son is born during the preceding year.

5. Gyalto/Gyago festival

  • is held towards the end of December when people bid farewell to the old year.

6. Dachang

  • is a festival of arrows. 
  • This is celebrated by only the men in the month of February in any village and continues for six days.

7. Thon Thon 

  • is celebrated in the month of April which marks the end of the winter.

8. Yane

  • is a festival in which God Trilokinath is worshipped by old men and women, celebrated in the second week of June every year.

9. Bhinger

  • is celebrated on the birth of a son or the first daughter.

10. Lachhang Festival

  • This festival is celebrated for the welcome of the winter season.

11. Paklen Festival

  • It is celebrated at the time of marriage.

12. Dzeetha Dambargya

  • is a form of worship in Lahaul 
  • This is performed once or twice after the death of a person.
  • According to a legend – some people believe that the name of the village Tandi originally was Tan-dehi, where Draupadi, the wife of five Pandavas of Mahabharata war fame, gave her body or died. 
  • According to another legend – Rishi Vashisht died at Mandi and his body was cremated at the confluence of two rivers, the Chandra and Bhaga, where the present village of Tandi is situated. 
  • Another legend says that Chandra, the daughter of the moon, was in love with Bhaga, the son of God’s sun. 
  • Tandi is the place where both met and the celestial marriage was performed.

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