Kaza: An Unfinished Trek

If there is one thing that we as a group of friends do not lack, it is ambition. What else can explain the decision of seven ‘not very fit’ people undertaking a 4-5 hour trek at an altitude of 4,500 m? Foolhardiness perhaps, but I like ambition better.

On our final day in Kaza, we had planned a trek from Langza village (4,400 m) to Hikkim village (4,400 m) to Komic village (4,587 m). All the three villages are famous for different reasons. Langza is famous for the marine fossils found in and around the village. Hikkim has the world’s highest polling station and post office while Komic claims to be the highest motorable village in Asia. Komic is also home to the old Tangyud monastery.

DRIVE TO LANGZA

We left our hotel at 10:45 am after a scrumptious breakfast and drove towards Langza. After climbing rapidly for almost half an hour, the terrain suddenly became flat allowing us wide panoramic views.  As we got closer to Langza, the sight that dominated the landscape was that of a large gilded statue of Buddha overlooking the village which consisted of probably 40-50 houses flanked by green fields. We bypassed the village and drove towards the statue. Once we got there, we took a few photos of the statue and told our driver to wait for us at Komic. Wiser from our trek to Dhankar Lake a couple of days ago, we took care to cover our faces properly this time and finally at 11:45 we began our trek to Komic.

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The Buddha Statue

THE TREK

Once we started from Langza we decided not to follow the road and instead trek through the vast undulating terrain that stretched out in front of us. What initially surprised us was the amount of vegetation around us. We had expected barren land which had been a feature of Spiti valley but contrary to our expectations the ground was covered with a fair amount of grass and shrubs. The sky was cloudy which protected us from harsh overhead sun. All this made for ideal conditions for trekking.

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Langza Village

There was no well defined trail on this stretch of land but we knew the general direction in which we had to proceed. We kept stopping from time to time to take in the stunning beauty all around us. Apart from the seven of us, there was not a single soul in sight and this remoteness somehow made our trek even more enjoyable.

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Trekking trough the vast emptiness (Pic by Vijay)

About an hour into our trek we noticed that it had suddenly become quite dark. We looked around and saw dense clouds, which almost seemed to be touching the ground, closing in from our left. The next thing we knew, there were small hailstones falling all around us. Suddenly the ground and our clothes had taken on a white hue. To make matters worse, we had left our raincoats in the vehicle itself. But we shouldn’t have worried because the hail lasted for no more than five minutes and stopped as abruptly as it had begun.   

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The clouds closing in

Post this little adventure we carried on with our trek. After a while we came to the end of the undulating terrain with a hill blocking our progress. We had two options; either we could descend and join the main road or climb the hill and then decide our path. We chose the option of climbing the hill as we had already decided to stay away from the road. We had climbed almost halfway up the hill when we saw our vehicle driving back towards us in the distance. The driver probably thought that we must have had enough by this time but we were nowhere ready to give up. Well, at least six of us were. Ashrafi decided that she had done enough trekking for the day and joined the driver in the vehicle. Who knew that she would be the only one who would actually end up visiting Hikkim and Komic!

The six of us eventually made our way to the mountaintop which was marked by a small mound of rocks, a flag and a head which once probably belonged to a mountain goat. The mountaintop was a large stretch of flat land which provided glorious 360° views. We spent sometime at the top clicking photos and resting.

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On the mountaintop
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On the mountaintop

After regaining our energy, as we continued further forward, the village of Hikkim came into sight. It was located in a valley and we would have had to descend few hundred feet from our current position to reach it. Everyone was quite reluctant to first climb down to Hikkim and then climb up again for Komic so we decided to skip Hikkim and trek straight to Komic.

We tried to keep following the trails for sometime but it became increasingly difficult to do so as they became narrower and were mostly made up of loose mud. So we decided to come down to the main road and continue our trek from there. Following the road was nowhere as much fun as walking the trails. In addition to that, the vegetation had become quite sparse, the clouds had dissipated allowing the sun to beat down on us heavily and the landscape was also unchanging. We persisted on that path for close to two hours but this leg of the trek was not as enjoyable or beautiful as the one from Langza to the mountaintop.

Eventually we reached a point where the road bifurcated with one path leading all the way down to Hikkim while the other carried on towards Komic. At this moment we saw our vehicle once again coming towards us from Hikkim. Ashrafi got down and told us that she waited for us at Komic for a while but then decided to drive to Hikkim since that is where we had originally planned to go. She showed us the photos of Komic monastery and Hikkim post office and told us that apart from those there is nothing worthwhile to see. We were already exhausted by this point, and swayed by her arguments we decided to abandon our trek. So at 4 pm, after trekking for more than 4 hours at an altitude of 4,500 m, we got in our vehicle and drove back to our hotel. 

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The road that leads to Hikkim

In hindsight, we should have trekked from Langza to Hikkim only and then should have drove to Komic. But the trek was still very memorable. Looking back, if I want to sum up our trek in one sentence then this quote from Edward Abbey seems most apt.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”

KAZA MONASTERY

After coming back from the trek, most of us had no energy left and simply decided to relax in the hotel but Mansi and Ashrafi went to explore the Sakya Tangyud monastery which was located just 200 m away from our hotel. This newly constructed monastery was quite large and impressive. The artwork and decorations in the entire monastery was extremely intricate, gorgeous and colourful. Outside the monastery there were eight stupas which denoted eight major events in Lord Buddhas’s life. It took the girls less than half an hour to explore the monastery following which they returned to the hotel.

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Sakya Tangyud Monastery
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Prayer Hall in the monastery
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The Eight Stupas
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The road leading to our hotel

HOTEL DEYZOR

If you were thinking why we hadn’t given a short description of our hotel in Kaza like we generally do with all places, then it is because this hotel deserves a separate section in our blog. Hotel Deyzor was undoubtedly the best hotel we stayed at during our trip. For some of us, it was the best hotel we had stayed at in our entire lives and it was not because Hotel Deyzor was a luxurious hotel or offered some special services. In fact it was a pretty standard hotel which did not even offer room service.

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Hotel Deyzor

From outside, the hotel stood out due to its bright colours but it was the interior which separated it from any other hotel we had stayed at. Every room, every corridor, every corner and every wall was tastefully decorated with extreme care and elegance using mostly local products. All the rooms and corridors also had beautiful quotes painted on the walls. 

The owner was a guy with many travel stories and was always available to chat. It was that personal touch which made our stay at Hotel Deyzor such an incredible experience. The food was also extremely delicious and we had breakfast and dinner at the hotel itself during the entire duration of our stay in Kaza. Regarding the cost, we had booked three rooms for three nights and it cost us a total of INR 9180. Well, if I ever end up in Kaza again I know which hotel I am going to end up at.

 

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14 thoughts on “Kaza: An Unfinished Trek

      1. Absolutely! We’re planning to go back in 2018. 🙂 We were there for 3 months and didn’t get a chance to see even a fraction of everything that we wanted to.

        Liked by 1 person

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