25 February 2005

Ki Monastery-Spiti

Ki Monastery is a thousand-year-old Buddhist gompa located in the remote region of Spiti in the Indian Himalayas. The passes into this area are blocked by snow for six months of the year, thus the Tibetan culture here has remained intact. Photo by Jannaca Chick. Posted by Hello The hill-top Ki monastery is the most prominent feature of the Spiti valley. This monastery is an outstanding example of the monastic architecture which developed during the fourteenth century in the wake of the Chinese influence. The monastery was plundered in the middle of the seventeenth century by the Mongols.In the nineteenth century, it again suffered three brutal attacks. The successive trails of destruction and patch-up jobs have resulted in a haphazard growth of box-like structures, and the complex now resembles a defensive fort. Among the other important monasteries in the Spiti valley are an ancient temple at Lha-lun, and another temple complex at Dhankar. The temples at Dhankar seem to be precariously dangling between heaven and earth !!!

Tabo Monastery! Posted by Hello

24 February 2005

Teaching-fun-adventure-tourism and of course generosity

Teaching Posted by Hello One more great example of generosity comes from Tikarani Shailja Kumari, born the eldest daughter of the house of Sailana. She is a Graduate in Econonic Honors from St.Xavers Ahmedabad. She is a Director of Kangra Hotels Pvt.Ltd and also runs a Primary School in Dharamsala " Happy Hours Public School ". She started an educational program where volenteers from U.K come to the villages in Kangra and teach English and related subjects to the children studing in the under previleged school's for free [ Africa And Asia Ventures ]. She is the Daughter-in-Law of Raja Aditya Dev Chand Katoch of Kangra and Rani Chandresh Kumari, who is also a member of Himachal Legislative assembly, who also held earlier the post of President Indian Mahila(women) Congress as well as many ministries in State government.Tikaraj Aishwarya Katoch, Tikarani Shailja Kumari's husband also is very much involved in youth activities and he arranges the Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch Memorial Cricket Series in JaisinghPur area every year.

23 February 2005

GONOMAD Destination-Spiti

Story and photos by David Rich The Spiti Valley and its neighboring valleys are among the most remote in the world, lying on the border with Tibet in a seldom-traveled corner in the far north of India, smack-dab in the middle of the mystic Himalayas. The valleys are accessible a few months of the year when receding snow allows traffic over 15,000-foot-high (4551M) Kunzum Pass. The only other entrance for sometimes-motorable access is habitually blocked by mud and rockslides.

GONOMAD.com destination-Dharamshala

Para Posted by Hello Gonomad.com has discussed the travel to McLeod Ganj, DharamShala, HP in great detail. Mostly McLeodGanj is now taken as a Tibetean colony more rather than as a part of Himachal because the spirtual leader of Tibet, Dalai Lama staying over there. During last decade many Hollywood stars have become great followers of HH Dalai Lama so this kind of exposure is of course understandable. Richard Gere, the star of “Chicago”, “Shall We Dance”, “The Jackal”, “American Gigolo” and most famously from Julia Roberts starred “Pretty Woman” is one of the most distinguished followers. Mr. Gere is also well known AIDS activist and works very closely with Indian NGOs for AIDS awareness. Goldie Hawn who is Kate Hudson’s mom is also one of the best-known followers of Dalai Lama. Of course Steven Seagal the action star best known for martial arts in movies is also best known for showing Buddhist religion in most of his movies and in many he also shows himself being a monk. Beautiful monastries around Dharamshala are spread all over places. Like in Bir they have a large Budhist University. People visiting places in Himachal should be aware that winter is never the best time and winter is mostly from November till March end. Summers are the best time and rains are heavy in the months of Jul and August. In today’s world for west Dharamshala is related to Dalai Lama but for any Hindu Kangra district (county), for which Dharamshala is district head office is known for Hindu pilgrimage. Maa Brajeshwari temple in Kangra, Maa Chamunda Ji, Maa Jawala Ji in JalawalMukhi, Maa Chintpurni Ji and Baijnath Shiv Temple in Baijnath are best known Hindu pilgrimages. All the Maata temples in Navratri are heavily crowded and are visited as such all year long. Billing which is near to BIR is World’s one of the best places for Para and Hang Giliding. The way the valley is it is taken as best for learners as well as experienced gliders. Every year the state government is organizing a Pre World cup and is hoping for organizing the World Para Gliding competition in near future. Most people know McLeod Ganj for Dalai Lama but for most of the Hippies from around the world it is also known as drugs haven. Bhang and Ganja is a free flow and so is it in most of the places in Himachal, like Kullu and Manali where it has now become a major problem. However Dharamashala is known for its natural beauty and peace loving nice people of Himachal. Those who are interested in visiting this place may find information related in this link: GONOMAD

22 February 2005

Few sweet songs

I found few sweet local songs on this website, you can also buy them. Himachal Pradesh is the land of mountains, rivers and beautiful landscape. Most songs of the region reflect the natural beauty of the land. Rajinder Singh & party belong to Chamba and sing songs of the shepherds known as the Gaddis. Many of these songs are part of the "Chamba album" but several tracks here are not. Tandup Tshering & Yanchen Dolma live in village Kibber at the height of more than 14,000 ft and their songs have the rigour and hardship of life in that terrain. Every artiste featured here has his or her own story to tell through their songs. Enjoy them!! BEAT OF INDIA

20 February 2005

Relief Riders International.

Relief Posted by Hello A Hero Journey. A unique and truly heroic, adventurous and appreciable concept! Alexandar Souri born to a French mother and Indian father is working towards this great effort. He calls it a Humanitarian based adventure travel company. A Journey amongst extraordinary mountains, vibrant with color, while they grant the greatest gift Relief Riders International is a humanitarian based, adventure travel company that organizes horseback journeys through developing countries. The first journey which they took along with a team of 8 specialists from ENT, Pediatrics, Dental, Gynecologist, general Physicians and Ophthalmologist is a unique example of giving back, generosity and of course adventure. They treated almost 530 patients and had the first hand experience of Indian rural population as well as rich Indian heritage. The next adventure ride, planned for July 31st to August 15th 2005, will take them up into breathe taking Himalayan mountain passes, through deep narrow valleys; to the area many call “Little Tibet.” There will be 6 - 12 riders, and a caravan of 6 - 8 pack horses carrying medical and other life sustaining supplies. This trip which starts from Himachal Pardesh’s Spiti area with Spitian horses, known for their toughness in cold desert mountains will end up in Ladhakh. Please visit their website for more information: RELIEF RIDERS

19 February 2005


PRIA Posted by Hello NGO 'PRIA' is also actively involved in Himachal. PRIA PRIA is a civil society organisation, that undertakes development initiatives to positively impact the lives of the poor, marginalised and excluded sections of society, by encouraging and enabling their participation in the processes of their governance. It strives for achievement of equity and justice, through a people centred approach, focusing on 'Citizens' - 'their participation and inclusion', 'awareness and empowerment' and 'their democratic rights'. PRIA recognises the value of people's knowledge, challenges traditional myths and concepts, raises awareness of people's rights and promotes experiential learning. It applies a multi- dimensional strategic approach to creating knowledge,training and capacity building of stakeholders, public education and policy advocacy and intervenes at various levels of the demand and supply segments, to reach out locally, nationally and globally. Operating under two broad themes, 'Reforming Governing Institutions' and 'Civil Society building', PRIA's people centered interventions aim at promoting active participation of the poor and marginalised in the effective utilisation of resources through local governance. It engages itself in strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions and municipalities, promoting environmental and occupational health, facilitating a strong network of civil society organisations, promoting citizen leadership and in monitoring policies and programmes of bilateral, multilateral and government agencies, to achieve an agenda of 'Governance Where People Matter'. PRIA proactively involves and engages a range of stakeholders including academia, media, donors, civil society organisations, trade unions, private business and government agencies in its efforts and provides a platform for a multi-stakeholder development approach.

14 February 2005

A 1905 steam engine runs on the Kalka-Shimla track on Sunday. The engine was regularly run on the track till 1975. Photo by Anil Dayal  Posted by Hello The Indian Railways and Himachal Pradesh Government gave the Kalka-Shimla toy train a befitting 100th Birthday Celebration. Covering 96.54 kms / 60 miles and traversing a gradient from 640 metres to 2060 metres, and zigzagging through 103 tunnels in addition to crossing over 800 bridges, (through the lower Himalayan range) this little toy train takes you on a spectacular nostalgic journey evocative of the British Raj. The celebrations began on 9 November when the Railway Minister and 100 privileged invitees were hauled up to Shimla by the 1905 steam engine (KC-520) pulling the Kalka-Shimla Toy Train. All the 20 stations enroute were decorated for the occasion. The Minister announced that World Heritage status had been sought for the train (the Darjeeling Hill Railway already enjoys this distinction). The celebrations entitled ‘Shimla - a Journey to the Past’ went on for a week encompassing Vintage car rallies, Gaiety Theater festival (with students from the Lawrence School Sanawar performing) and bands. Displays by the elite Mounted Cavalry and motorcycle daredevils displaying their skills on the Ridge, golf tournament at Naldera and cultural festivals were also an integral part of this week long celebration. A commemorative stamp on the train was also released. A steam engine tourist package was on offer with the Railways running the train with the 1905 steam locomotive during the period.

07 February 2005

Chandertaal Lake Posted by Hello This is the source of the river Chandra. According to some believers, this is the spot from where the god Indra's chariot took the eldest Pandava brother, Yudhishtra to 'swarga' (heaven) in his mortal form. Colourful tents under the blue sky,around the crystal clear waters of the Chandratal lake is a sight. Reflections of snowtopped high mountains in the lake are simply enchanting. The mountains peaks with snow caps and slopes around the valley rise up to 3000 metres to 6300 metres. The mountain ranges are called Moulkila and Chandrabhaga which challenge mountaineers. The Chandratal lake, once a halting place for traders who went to Spiti and the Kulu valley from Tibet and Ladakh attracts a large number of adventure lovers. The lake in Lahaul and Spiti district is situated at an altitude of 4270 metres. It lies between a low ridge and the main Kunzum range. This lake is also known as Moon Lake. The lake is 1.5 km long and .75 km wide. A circular trek can be attempted from both Batal on the Manali-Kaza road and the Baralacha pass on the Manali-Leh Highway. Its meadows nestle many wild flowers. With opening of the Manali-Leh road to foreign visitors in 1989, the number of trekkers for the Batal-Chandratal Lake-Baralacha Pass trek and vice versa has increased .Now a trek is possible up to the Baralacha Pass and from there tourists can board a vehicle to Leh or travel up to the Baralacha Pass by a vehicle from Leh and trek down to Batal. But with the opening of Spiti and Kinnaur inner line area to foreigners in 1992, trekkers can complete a full circuit of the cold desert areas of the tribal belt. From June to September a large number of tourists visit the lake. This is also the time when shepherds from Kangra, Mandi and Kulu can be seen with their herds of sheep at Chandra pastures.


A view of the snow-covered Bharmani Temple and deodar trees after a heavy snowfall in the Bharmour area of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh on Monday. — PTI  Posted by Hello BHARMOUR is a place which not many people are familiar with. In the olden times, it was called Brahmpura and was the capital of Chamba. A small, sleepy hamlet in Himachal Pradesh, it comes to life in the months of August and September when yatris going to Manimahesh stop here. Manimahesh is 26 km from this village. During these two months the small streets of Bharmour remain packed with enthusiastic devotees, sadhus and trekkers. They all rest here to refresh themselves before proceeding on their journey. The 65-km-long stretch from Chamba to Bharmour can be strenuous and taxing, for the road is narrow and rough. On both sides of the road are huge rocky mountains kissing the sky. The road runs along deep gorges and the ever-changing Ravi river, sometimes narrow and noisy, and sometimes wide and calm. All along the road, the beauty of the glimmering snow-covered mountains against the deep blue sky greets the visitors and if it is a clear day, the majestic Kailash Parbat can also be viewed. Bharmour is known for its Chaurasi (eightyfour) sidhas or shivlings. In the main square there are several temples — big and small — of different gods and goddesses. The temple of Narsingh was built in the 10th century by King Sahil Varman. The biggest one is that of Manimahesh, probably constructed in the 6th century. The two other temples of great importance are those of Goddess Lakshaya Devi and Lord Ganesh. During the yatra days, traders come here from various parts of the region to put up their stalls of clothes, shoes, woollens, utensils, etc. Like in a typical village fair, there are some traders who spread their wares on the floor, while others display their goods in colourful tents. There are stalls of food items too. You get no hamburgers or pizzas but desi hot jalebis, samosas and puris are available. It is a scene of a typical hill village fair. There is an air of festivity. Locals, yatris and other people from neighbouring areas come here. There is much merrymaking with people doing the traditional Himachali dance, nati, and beating the drums. These celebrations are an annual feature of Bharmour. In the evening people gather in the compounds of the temples to attend aarti. The place reverberates with the ringing of bells, beating of drums and chanting of bhajans. With the temples and the surrounding area lighted, it looks like Divali time in this land of Lord Shiva. There are no posh hotels or restaurants in Bharmour. There are guest houses of the PWD and the Forest Department. Most of the yatris spend the night in the temple compounds. Some even camp in the open area on the ridge near the helipad. They brave the weather singing devotional songs. Bharmour, at a height of about 2000 mt above sea level, remains covered with snow from March to November. Another remarkable feature of Bharmour which requires mention is the temple of ‘Bharmani Mata’, which can be reached by climbing a steep path of almost four kilometres on foot. It is considered auspicious to take a dip in the holy pool of the temple. The effort of climbing is also rewarded by the food or tea offered at the langar there. The view of the place is a treat to the eyes: open and wide meadows, gurgling streams apple-laden trees and hilltops surrounded by snow-peaked mountains.