Spiti – Komic Village
Komic comes from (‘Ko’– Snow Cock, ‘Mic’– Eye) which means eye of a Snow Cock. It falls in the Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh which formerly were two separate districts Lahaul and Spiti.
On the fifth day of our road trip, we reached Komic. The map below shows our pitstops from Delhi to Spiti and the distance and elevation of each pitstop.
There are two ways of reaching Spiti.
- From the Shimla-Narkanda-Kinnaur side which requires extra traveling days but the route acclimatizes you to the gradually increasing elevation thus reducing the chances of acute mountain sickness. You can hire a cab from Shimla or from Chandigarh for the entire route or also commute from via the HPTC buses.
- The other route is via Manali – Rohtang pass – Kunzum La pass – Spiti This route would also require taking the Rohtang pass permit.
Reaching Spiti – Komic
- A private cab for the entire trip from Shimla
- Bus from Shimla to Reckong Peo from where you can board the bus to Kaza.
- Komic is approximately 18km from Kaza, a private car can be hired from Kaza for the entire day to cover Komic, Hikkim, and Langza
The map detailing our route till Kaza.
The harsh conditions of the land give Lahaul and Spiti a barren appearance. On entering the district the contrasting landscape is visibly noticeable. We moved from the apple-laden orchards of Kinnaur to the rugged and dusty roads of Spiti. The roadsign of “You are traveling on the worlds most treacherous roads” is an indicator of the bumpy journey ahead.
The first landslide that we encountered. The road was made functional within a span of fifteen minutes by the help of the locals and the monks from the nearby monastery.
Situated at an elevation of 4587 meters Komic is the highest village in the world. For as far as your eyes can see you will not even spot a single tree or any area providing any form of shade. The sun can be blistering hot that will peel off the skin if left uncovered. Accompanied with the harsh sun are dusty winds that pick up speed after 12 in the noon. An example of these winds is here.
Make sure to carry full sleeves clothing, warmers, fleece jacket and a cap or piece of clothing to cover your face. Weather in Spiti is highly unpredictable. The sun is harsh and at the same time, an area with shade will require you to wear layers of clothing.
Welcome to Komic
A barren brown land
The village has a monastery (Gompa) that is approximately 500 years old. Women are not allowed inside the monastery during prayer times. The prayers are performed twice in a day, usually once in the morning and once in evening. The entire population of the village is 114 individuals.
All through our days in Spiti valley, we noticed that wherever there was a perennial source of water, human settlement was bound to be there. Spiti is a cold dessert with hardly any precipitation which makes it unsuitable for most crop cultivation. The ecosystem of Komic, like most other villages in Spiti, is dependent on the melting snow water from the glaciers which is directed to the fields by the villagers by channels. It is this water that nourishes the barley, potatoes and peas cultivation. You can also spot plenty of Seabuckthorn growing all across the valley, which is worlds richest known source of Vitamin C.
Yaks can be commonly spotted throughout the valley. The locals rear Yak as it is their only source of milk and cheese
The winters in Spiti are extremely harsh. The temperatures go down to -30 degrees casing the entire valley in a blanket of snow, disconnecting the area from the outside world. The 5-6 months of the window period are spent by the locals in preparation of the harsh winters. With winters arrives the shortage of resources, of power, water, and food. The dry toilets get uncovered, the water pipes are dried to avoid the freezing water from bursting the pipes.
Dung cakes used by locals as a fuel
Such extreme conditions make you wonder how the locals survive the environment? How and why would anyone even want to live their entire life just surviving? But speak to any local and they wouldn’t trade it for anything else. They live a very content, wholesome and self-sustained life.
Perhaps the reason why the mountain people are also such generous caregivers and welcoming hosts, they understand the effort it takes to survive the land.
Lahaul-Spiti is not a luxury travel, so kindly adjust with the means and try and understand the life in Spiti.
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