Friday, October 10, 2014

Kinnaur & Spiti- 1 - Nako lake abode of fairies

I had been to Nako village last week as part of Kinnaur and Spiti jeep safari. I had booked this with Ecosphere, an NGO from Spiti. Nako is a small village at the altitude of 3660mt in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. We reached there from Kalpa by evening 6. Journey from Kalpa to Nako takes dramatic turn from pine cedar trees covering the mountains to open, stark mountains with blue sky.

Morning view from our camp
Our stay was booked in a picturesque place overlooking mountains and Nako lake.It was already dusk. I climbed up to the chorten next to our tents. That was the time for cattle to come back home. Small path leading to Chorten was dusty with animals rushing home. View from the top was worth taking the pain to go up. It was getting darker and colder and I came down to tent. It was freezing cold. But there were good quilts inside the tent. 
View of camps from top

Nako lake
Next day morning, I woke up to realize what a beautiful place Nako is and to appreciate the location of the camps I stayed. I went to see lake and village. Whole village is built next to the lake. Lake was surrounded by Willow trees. Its reflection and its fall color was adding additional charm to the lake.  There is a nice walking path all around the lake. I was told that fairies live in this lake. Apparently there are foot prints of the fairies in the nearby caves, where I didn’t go. 
Reflection - Nako lake

Like any other place which is existing from 1000 years, there is a legend for this lake as well. Once, people started to fight between themselves and ‘ adharma’ (opposite of righteousness) started to grow, then a fairy living in the neighborhood was crying every day looking at this. Her tears formed a lake.
Nako is a gateway for Buddhist pilgrimages. There are plenty of Buddhist temples around Nako, which are worth visiting. Trekking is a must to reach these places. Being at the border of Tibet, inner permit is required to stay in Nako for foreigners. Apparently, some part of Tibet can be seen from the mountains after trekking.
Nako village

Like any other Kinnaur and Spiti valley village, there is a monastery here. I walked through the narrow lanes of the village. It seems that the village exists from 100s of years. Typical houses closely built with  narrow lanes in between. While walking, I  found this man shaving the wool off a sheep. 
Man shaving the wool of  a sheep
I tried to strike a conversation. He said though this village is Buddhist by religion, some of them follow Pandava tradition of polyandry system ( Woman takes more than one as husbands)while getting married. I was intrigued and asking more questions he didn’t answer but said I don’t know anything. I moved ahead and was capturing pictures in front of a home.  Lady of the home initiated a conversation. She invited me inside and  offered  tea. I happily went inside. There was a courtyard with beautiful flowers and apricot tree. I politely said no to tea and instead asked for apricot. She helped me to pluck apricots and gave me handful of raw badam which she had kept it for drying. I comforted myself in front of iron stove kept for fighting cold. 

Apricots were juicy and her hospitality was warm to kick start my day.

Travel tips

-          Nako can be  reached from Reckong Peo – It is about 100 kms from Reckong Peo. We took this route. You can witness greenery disappearing and boulders and rock formations emerging at each end every turn you take
-          Alternatively it can be reached from Kaza-Dhankar- Tabo
-          Roads  are dusty
-          There are few permanent tents available for stay with restaurant. Few home stays are also available at very reasonable price. We stayed in Kinner camps. It was neat with attached bathroom. And running water. Hot water would be provided in buckets. They use solar power.

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  1. That lake is stunning!

  2. Wow, what a beautiful reflection!

  3. You are introducing us to so many beautiful places Giri. I am seeing the world through your narration and fabulous pictures. Vidhya