Lahaul-Spiti & Kinnaur

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Lahaul-Spiti

The district of Lahaul-Spiti in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh consists of the two formerly separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The present administrative centre is Keylong in Lahaul. The district was formed in 1960.

Kunzum la (altitude 4,551 m; 14,931 ft) is the entrance pass to the Spiti from Lahaul. It is 21 km from Chandra Tal. This district is connected to Manali through the Rothang Pass (which is the entrance pass to Ladakh and Spiti). To the south, Spiti ends 24 km from Tabo, at the Sumdo where the road enters Kinnaur and joins with National Highway No. 22.

The two valleys are quite different in character. Spiti is more barren and difficult to cross, with an average elevation of the valley floor of 4,270 m (14,009 ft). It is enclosed between lofty ranges, with the Spiti river rushing out of a gorge in the southeast to meet the Sutlej River. It is a typical mountain desert area with an average annual rainfall of only 170 mm (6.7 inches).

Kinnaur

Kinnaur, is about 235 km (146 mi) from the state capital, Shimla, located in the northeast corner of Himachal Pradesh bordering Tibet to the east. It has three high mountains ranges, namely, Zanskar, Himalayas and Daulhdar that enclose valleys of Sutlej, Spiti, Baspa and their tributaries. The slopes are covered with thick wood, orchards, fields and picturesque hamlets. At the peak of Kinnaur Kailash mountain is a famous natural rock Shivling (Shiva lingam). The district was opened to outsiders in 1889. The old Hindustan-Tibet Road passes through the Kinnaur valley along the bank of river Sutlej and finally enters Tibet at Shipki La.

It is not only the scenic beauty which appeals to the young and old alike but also the life styles of the people, their culture, heritage, customs and traditions. The people have strong culture and beliefs, generally follow Buddhism and Hinduism, believing the Pandavas came and resided in the land while in the exile<kamru village>. Thousands-year-old monasteries still exist in the area. Buddhists and Hindus live in harmony symbolising the traditional brotherhood and friendship of the people of both the faiths. Apples, chilgoza (chestnut) and other dry fruits are grown here. The high terrain here facilitates adventures and sports. Trekking routes include the ‘Parikarma of Kinnaur Kailash’.

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