Monday, August 25, 2008

Lava is a small hamlet situated 34 kilometres (21 mi) east of the town of Kalimpong via Algarah in the state of West Bengal, India. Lava is situated at an altitude of 7,016 feet (2,138 m). It is one of the few places in West Bengal to receive snow in winter. The route to Lava is scenic with the change in vegetation from tropical deciduous to the wet alpine trees of fir, pine and birch. Due to coldness,Tongba(Dhungro) is famous here for the precaution of cold. The idyllic verdant forests are an ideal spot for picnicking, trekking and bird watching and other peripatetic activities. The road is untouched by modern life and one is treated to rustic hamlets whose inhabitants are still living as they have for centuries.

View from the town of Lava
The region is still virgin and wild animals such as the Himalayan Black Bear, barking deer are found in profusion in these parts. A Buddhist monastery is present on one of the hills of Lava.
Lava is also near the vicinity of the Jelepla Pass, the ancient trade route to Tibet and the Neora Valley National Park. The small town of Lolegaon is located near Lava.

A clock tower in the main town square

Buddhist Monestry in Lava, West Bengal

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rules of Elephant Polo

1. The Game will be played by three players on each team using a standard size polo ball.

2. Preliminary games will consist of two 7 minute chukkas of playing time, with an interval of 15 minutes. The whistle blown by the referee stops and starts the play. Finals and semi-final games will consist of two chukkas with the same interval.

3. The pitch will be marked with a centre line, a circle with a radius of 10 metres in the centre of the field, and a semi-circle, in front of the goals, with a radius of 20 metres, measured from the centre of the goal line at either end of the pitch will form the D.

4. Elephants and ends are changed at half time.

5. To be a goal, the ball must travel over and across the goal line.


1. START OF THE GAME:The play is begun when an Umpire, from outside the centre circle, throws the ball between two opposing elephants inside the ring. No other elephants may enter the ring until the ball has been hit out by either of the two opposing players. To do so is foul. A spot hit is to be given to the fouled team, from the spot where the ball was when the foul occurred. Defending elephants must be 15 metres from the ball before the spot hit is taken.

2. NUMBER OF ELEPHANTS ON THE PITCH:(a) No team may have more than two elephants playing in one half of the pitch at any given time, including at the throw-in before the start of the game, and the throw-in after each goal is scored. To do so constitutes a foul. A spot hit will be given from the place where the foul occurred. Elephants from the defending side should be 15 metres from the ball.(b) The elephant that is designated to be in the opposing half must position itself anywhere in the opposition’s half, but no less than 15 metres from the ball, at the throw-in, after each goal. The elephant in the opposing half may switch positions, during play, with another of its team as long as there are no more than two elephants in one half of the pitch at any given time during play. In order to avoid a foul the switch should be made during the time that the game has stopped. The Umpire should be informed by the Captain before the switch is made.

3. GOAL/SEMI CIRCLE – NO MORE THAN ONE ELEPHANT FROM EACH SIDE ALLOWED IN THE D:If the Attacking team has more than one elephant in the semi-circle, then the Defending team is given a free spot hit from a point on the semi-circle line opposite the middle of the goal. Opposition players are to be 15 metres from the ball. If there are two defending elephants in the semi-circle, this also constitutes a foul. A free hit is given to the Attacking team from the point at which the ball is when the foul occurs. Elephants from the Defending side must be 15 metres from the ball. This could mean that the elephants from the Defending side must be over the back-line, or at the sides of the semi-circle – 15 metres from the ball, even if it results in an undefended goal mouth.

4. HIT IN/OUTS – SIDELINE/BACKLINES AND ON 20 METRES SEMI CIRCLE TO THE D :a. All opposing elephants must be 15 metres away from the ball, whether the hit-in be from the sideline, the backline or a spot hit awarded in the field, for whatever reason, as decided by the umpire.b. Rebounding off elephants – “No Penalty”: Should an Attacking player hit the ball and the ball goes out of play, having deflected off any elephant, then it is a knock in for the Defending team. All Attacking elephants must be 15 metres from the spot, with only one Attacking and one Defending elephant, in the D allowed.c. Should a Defending player hit the ball out over the back-line, whether or not it is deflected off any elephant, it will be hit for the Attacking team 20 metres out opposite where the ball crossed the line. All Defending elephants must be 15 metres from the spot and only one Defending and one Attacking elephant may be allowed in the “D”.d. Should the Defending player hit the ball and it rebounds off an Attacking player’s stick before going out directly, or off any elephant, on its way out, then it is a knock-in for the Defending team from where the ball crossed the line. All elephants of the Attacking team are to be 15 metres away and one Defending and one Attacking elephant are allowed in the D. Should the knock-in be on line within the radius of the D then the Defending elephants taking the hit shall be considered as the one Defending Elephant allowed in the D.e. An Attacking team will be awarded a free hit from 20 metres opposite from where the ball went over the back line, should the ball strike a Defender’s stick, either having been struck at, or the ball accidentally hitting the Defender’s stick, whether of not the ball deflects off an elephant. The Defending elephants must be 15 metres from the spot be allowed in the spot with only one Defending and one Attacking elephant allowed in the D.f. Should a Defending or Attacking player hit a penalty or spot hit from the 20 metre semi-circle comprising the D, then that elephant is considered as the one allowed in the D from his side. No others may be allowed to stand in the D to supplement the player taking the shot.An elephant from the opposing side from the one taking the penalty, or spot hit, may be allowed, in the D.

5. ELEPHANTS - SIZE - SEX AND BEHAVIOUR:There shall be no restrictions as to the height, weight or sex of the elephants.
6. NUMBER OF ELEPHANTS & MAHOUTS:A team consists of three elephants. Teams are made up from the pool of elephants and balanced out as fairly as possible bearing in mind size and speed of the elephant. Once the team of elephants has been selected it shall be categorized and marked as A,B,C,D, E, F. Once chosen the elephants can not be changed from one team to another, except in case of injury to an elephant. The umpire and referees will decide which elephant(s) are to be substituted. Wherever possible they will choose an elephant of similar size and speed to replace the injured elephant(s).The mahout of the elephant chosen must play the entire tournament on the elephant originally assigned. The mahout cannot be changed at anytime except for injury or circumstances accepted by the Umpires and/or the Referee.
7. No elephants may lie down in front of the goal-mouth. To do so will constitute a foul. A free hit shall be awarded to the opposing side from the 20 metres semi circle in front of the goal, with only one elephant defending 15 metres from the spot.
8. An elephant may not pick up the ball with its trunk during play. To do so shall constitute a foul. A free hit shall be awarded to the opposing team from the spot where the ball was picked up. The defending players shall be 15 metres away from the spot.
9. FALLING OFF:If a player falls from an elephant, the play is stopped while the rider remounts. In case of injury, where the player cannot continue, a replacement may be called upon from among the reserves nominated, at the beginning of the Championship. Also see rule 20. Play is commenced with a throw-in by the Umpire between two elephants – one from each team, similar to the start of the game, but from the spot where the ball was when the player fell off. All other elephants shall be 15 metres from the spot.
10. ELEPHANT HARNESS:Should there be any failure in the elephant’s harness, the elephant shall retire to the side, or end line, to repair it. The game is stopped and restarted by a throw-in between two opposing elephants where the ball was when the game stopped.
11. BROKEN STICK:Should a stick be broken, when play is in the D, the game will not be stopped until the ball leaves the D. For a broken stick when the play is outside of the D, the game will be stopped while the player changes his stick. Play commences with a throw-in by the umpire, between one elephant from each side. All other players being 15 metres away.
12. HEAD GEAR:Elephant drivers and players must wear a protective hat of a design approved by the Referee, Umpire and Tournament Doctor. Should a player’s hat fall off outside the “D”, the game is stopped while it is recovered. A spot hit is awarded to the opposing side and the game shall resume when the Umpire signals to do so by a whistle and flag. Defending players must be 15 metres from the spot. Should the hat fall inside the “D”, the game will continue, and will only stop when the ball clears the “D”.
13. PICK-ME-UPS:Sugar cane or rice balls packed with vitamins (molasses and rock salt) shall be given to the elephants at the end of each match and a cold beer, or soft drink, to the elephant drivers and not vice versa.
14. PERSONAL FOULS: The following acts constitute a foul.a. Hooking the opponent's stick.b. Deliberately crossing in front of an elephant when the opponent is moving with the ball. Elephants may ride each other off or may be deliberately placed between elephants without the ball in order to impede their progress in getting to the ball, but deliberate crossing in front of the elephant with the ball constitutes a foul.c. Standing “on” the ball, backing or going forward over a ball to stop a player reaching the ball.d. Intentionally hitting another player, mahout, elephant, or Umpire with a stick.e. Dangerous play. “Round house” swings considered a danger to another player or elephant. “Round house” swings are allowed if there are no other players, or elephants, of either side, at the risk being hit. The definition of “too close” is at the discretion of the Umpire.f. Excessive use of any tool to discipline the elephant, either by mahout or player. Persistent infringement will lead to the player being sent from the field for the duration of the match, at the referee’s discretion a further ban of one chukka may be awarded for this offence. The player is responsible for the behaviour of their mahout. THE HEALTH AND WELFARE OF THE ELEPHANTS USED IN T.E.P.A. TOURNAMENTS IS A PRIME CONCERN, ABUSE OF THE ELEPHANT IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE MOST SERIOUS OFFENCE.

15. PENALTIES:When a player from a team commits a foul, from a, b or c, of “Personal Fouls”, the opposing team is allowed a free hit, from where the foul occurred. Elephants from the teams that fouled, must be 15 metres from the spot.a. The penalty for breaking Rule 14(d) and 14(e) will be at the discretion of the Umpire. The Umpire may award a spot hit against the offending team, from the spot where the ball was when the foul was committed, or if serious enough, especially following repeated warnings, may award a penalty from the 20 metre semi-circle with no opposition player guarding the goal. All other elephants must be 15 metres from the penalty spot with only one opposing player in the D but not in front of the goal.

16. UMPIRES, REFEREE, GOAL JUDGES, AND TIME KEEPER:There will a Senior Umpire together with an assistant Umpire mounted on the Referee elephant. The official Referee can be on the Referee Elephant, or be positioned on the sideline near the centre of the field of play. The Referee and Umpires must follow the play as closely as possible without impeding it. The Senior Umpire may consult with the Referee should there be any serious doubt as to infringements and penalties to be awarded, or concerning any official protest from a team captain.a. There will be a goal judge at either goal.b. There will be at least two Time keepers on one side of the pitch at the mid-line.i. When the ball is knocked out of bounds time is stopped until, at a signal from the Umpire using a whistle and flag, it is knocked in again.ii. Time is also stopped when a penalty is called by the Umpire. Again by using a flag and a whistle, the game is started again.iii. The first chukka will end at the ten minute bell/bugle.iv. Second chukka – at the end of 10 minutes play the bell/bugle shall signify the end of the normal chukka – play stops. However, if the ball is the in the D at the end of the 10 minutes the game shall be signaled when the ball travels out of the D, whether goal or not .

17. THE LEAGUEWIN = 2 points, DRAW = 1 point1. Should there be a draw in any of the two Leagues to decide first and second semi finalists there will be a penalty shoot out from the centre of the 20 metre D with no elephant defending the goal. Should it still be a draw after all three players from each team have made their hit then a “sudden–death” penalty shoot out will be used to determine which team is first or second.

2. Should there be a draw for second and third place then two-five minute chukkas will be played between the teams to decide who is second and third. Should there be a draw at the end of the two-five minute chukkas then a penalty shoot-out between those teams will also be conducted as with rules spelled out in 17a.

3. Should there be a draw for third and fourth place then it is to be decided upon by penalty shoot out.

4. Should multiple teams draw in any league then penalty shoot-outs will be taken between each team.

5. The penalties shall be taken from the centre of the 20 metre semi-circle. The ball may only be hit once. Should the player miss the ball completely other swings may be taken until there is contact. A goal is awarded whether the ball goes directly in across the line or deflects off a post across the line.

18. T.E.P.A FINALS:1. The top two teams from each league go through to T.E.P.A Championship Finals.

19. EXTRA TIME AND PENALTY SHOOT-OUTSa. If the score is a draw at the end of both chukkas, the game shall be decided by “sudden death”. Ends shall be changed, but not elephants. The first team to score a goal wins the match. The period of play shall be 5 minutes of playing time. Should there still be a draw at the end of the extra time, then the game shall be decided by a penalty shoot out. Each member of the team will take a penalty shot, in turn, from the 20 metres spot on the D opposite the goal as in rule 17a.b. Should there still be a draw after both teams, have shot at goal, then “sudden –death” penalties will take place. The Captain of each team shall choose the order of the players and elephants to take the penalties. The team that scores the first goal during sudden death shoot out wins.

20. INJURY OR SICKNESSIn the case of injury, sickness or extenuating circumstances a substitute(s) is allowed. The substitute(s) must be of a similar standard, or less, than the injured, or person being replaced.

21. HANDICAPPINGHandicaps will be assigned by the T.E.P.A. Handicapping Committee who will adhere to the following rules.a. Professional Horse Polo Players: The handicap awarded to any registered professional horse polo player shall total half of their horse polo handicap.PLAYERS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN ASSIGNED A HANDICAP UNDER RULE A, WILL BE CONSIDERED ELIGIBLE FOR HANDICAP ASSIGNMENT UNDER RULE B.b. Professional and Seasoned Elephant Polo Players: A half goal handicap will be assigned to any player that has played in three or more World Series (WEPA, TEPA or CEPA) Elephant Polo Championships anywhere in the world and does not have a horse polo handicap.c. The T.E.P.A. Committee reserves the right to assign a handicap to any player for reasons other than those outlined in a. and b. In order to do this a special meeting of all team captains will be called before the tournament commences. Player handicaps may not be changed during the tournament.d. Should a the team's total handicap when summed result in a half goal, the handicap will be rounded down.


a. If any player or team representative should show dissent toward any decision made by the umpire or referee a free hit may be awarded to the opposition from where the ball was when the dissent occurred.

b. Should a free hit already be awarded when the dissent occurs the free hit will be taken from a position five metres closer to the goal of the dissenting team.

c. Continued dissent will result in further five metre penalties.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Elephant Polo The Elephant Festival at Jaipur begins with a beautiful procession of the majestic animals lovingly painted and tastefully attired with glittering ornaments and embroidered velvets typically celebrated one day before the Holi, Indian festival of colours. It is quite a treat to see female elephants wearing anklets, which tinkle as they walk. One can see people sprinkling 'gulaal' (colored powder) perched on top of the elephant. Guest arrive at the polo grounds and are accorded a Special gala welcome wherein Guest are escorted with a Grand Royal procession comprising of ceremonially attired horses with riders in traditional ceremonial Cavalry costumes, Royal Carriages, Camels, Ceremonially attired elephants, traditional musicians etc.

Dressed in saffron and red turbans, the teams try to score goals with long sticks and a plastic football. Finally, the tourists are invited to mount the elephants and play Holi. Participants dance with great vigour and the excitement rising to a crescendo. A program of Dhaph and Gair dance to demonstrate the spirit of Holi and a dazzling display of fireworks complete the day leaving unforgettable memories.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Area of the district is approximately 2085 sq. km. bordered by Tibet in the North, Bhutan in the South-West and Sela ranges separate West Kameng district in the East.

The name TAWANG derives from some bearings on surroundings. But people's interpretation is that the name TAWANG was given by Mera Lama in the 17th century. One can reach Tawang from other parts of the country via Guwahati and Tezpur in Assam. From Guwahati(Assam) or Tezpur(Assam), one has to go to Bhalukpong in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and from there via Bomdila and Sela Pass one can go to Tawang by road.
The inhabitants of the districts are all of Monpa tribes except Shyo village which is dominated by people of Tibetian origin. The Monpas belong to Mongoloid stock. They are well built, fair in complexion. Their houses are built with stones and timbers. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry are the fundamental means of the Monpas occupation.
Tawang Monastery is one of the most important element in Social and Religious life of the Monpas. This Monastery is known as "GALDEN NAMGYEL LHATSE". It is one of the most largest Lamaseries of Mahayana sect in Asia. Lamseries comprise of several sections ranging near about four hundred years, devoted to Love, Learning and Purity of life.
This fortified complex covers an area of 135 sq. meters enclosed by a compound wall of 610 meter long. Within the complex there are 65 residential buildings and 10 other structures. The library have valuable old scriptures mainly Kanjur and Tanjur numbering 850 bundles. It is dated back to 17th century A.D.
There are two major religious festivals of the Monpas viz "LOSAR" and "TORGYA". Both festivals are celebrated once annually. The LOSAR s celebrated to the commencement of New year. Every third year of Torgya, the festival of Dungyur is celebrated. Both "Dungyur and Torgya" festivals are celebrated at the premises of the Tawang Monastery with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm.
There are beautiful lakes around Tawang. One is Pankang Teng Tso (P.T. Tso ) lake. It is a fetching heaven for tourist only 17 KM away from maddening crowd of township. It is a beautiful natural site and provide tourist a lucky chance for deep communion with nature. Other eye catching lakes are Sangetser lake , Banggachang lake.
When to visit
During the period, April to October.
How to reach
By bus from Tezpur(Assam) or Bomdila
Where to stay
Circuit House, Inspection Bungalow, Hotel Nichu, Hotel Shangrila.
Warm clothing throughout the year
Nearest Airport
Nearest Bus stand
Nearest Railway Stn
What to see
400 years old famous Buddhist

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lahaul and Spiti are two remote Himalayan Valleys of H.P. lying on the Indo-Tibet border. Strange, exciting, primitive, these valleys are unsurpassed in mountain scape, in the rugged beauty of their rocky escapements and the splendor of their snow covered peaks.
Lahaul is marked by a central mass of uniformly high mountains and massive glaciers. The two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga which rise on either side of the Baralacha La, flow through the narrow Chandra and Bhaga valleys. Lahaul is a land of fascinating Buddhist art and culture. The monasteries of Lahaul-Spiti are rich repositories of ancient murals, thankas, wood carving and golden images of Padmasambhava. The valley lies at a height of 2745 metres above sea level. Summer in this valley is cool and pleasant with green grass and alpine flowers. There are little monsoon in both these valleys and this enables climbers & trekkers to enjoy a long and unbroken season in perpetual sunshine to explore the wilderness and grandeur of the inner Himalaya. This unique feature makes Lahul-Spiti as an ideal destination for tourists and trekkers in the month of July, August and September. Keylong is 115 kms. from Manali and is the District Headquarters of Lahul-Spiti District.
13835 sq. kms.
3340 m (Keylong)
Light woollen in Summer
Heavy woollen in Winter.
Maximum:26.8 C Min 1.38 C Summer
Maximum:6.1 C Min (-)19.38 C Winter
June to October
Lahauli, English, Hindi, Bhoti are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade.
Hinduism & Budhism
Road: Lahaul is connected with road from all parts of the country. Manali is the point where buses from various stations come. From here, one can take bus/taxi to any destination in Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi & Leh during the months between June to November depending upon opening and closing of Rohtang pass (3979 m), the gateway to this valley. National highway 21 is passes through this valley enroute to Leh.
GONDLA(3160 m): It is 18 kms. from Keylong on the right bank of Chandra river. The location of royal houses of the village is interesting. In the month of July a fair is held when Lamas dance & enjoy. The Gompa of this village has historical significance and the fair attracts a large number of visitors. The residence of the Thakur of Gondla is an eight storey building of its own kind in the entire Lahaul valley. It is worth a visit. This is called Gondla castle or fort and was built in 1700 A.D.
TANDI: Tandi is 8 kms. short of Keylong and is situated at the confluence of Chandra & Bhaga rivers. A legend says that there were two lovers, Chandra being the daughter of the Moon and Bhaga the son of the Sun god. To perform there eternal marriage, they decided to climb to the Baralacha La & from there they ran in opposite directions. Chandra being active and smart easily found her way &reached Tandi after covering the distance of 115 kms. Soon Bhaga was found coming with great struggle through the narrow gorges to Tandi where consequently both met and the celestial marriage was performed. Bhaga covered about 60 kms. distance which was very difficult.
GURU GHANTAL MONASTERY(3020 m): This is on the right bank of Chandra river about 4kms. above Tandi and is believed to be the oldest Gompa of Lahaul having wooden structure with pyramidal roofs, wood carving and preserving the idols of Padmasambhava & Brajeshwari Devi. On the full moon night in mid-June a festival called "GHANTAL" is celebrated by Lamas & Thakurs together.
KEYLONG (3340 m): Keylong is the district Headquarters of Lahaul Spiti on the main road to Leh over Rohtang. It is an oasis of green fields and willow trees, water streams surrounded with brown hills and snow capped peaks. There are hotels, tourist bungalows and rest houses to stay.
KARDANG MONASTERY(3500 m): It is about 5kms. from Keylong across Bhaga river. It is believed to be built in 12th century. The Monastery has a large library of Kangyur and Tangyur volumes of Budhist scriptures in Bhoti. Kardang village was once the capital of Lahaul.
SHASHUR MONASTERY: Situated on a hill about 3 kms. far from Keylong towards north on the same slope. During June/July this monastery attracts lot of visitors when Lamas perform devil dance. It was founded in the 17th century a.d. It belongs to red hat sect and is located among the blue pines. The paintings are represent the history of 84 Buddha's.
TAYUL GOMPA(3900 m): Tayul Gompa is 6 kms. from Keylong and is one of the oldest monasteries of the valley having a big statue of Guru Padmasamhava about 5 m high and houses library of Kangyur having 101 volumes. In Tibetan language Ta-Yul means the chosen place. There is an interesting story behind this.
SISSU(3120 m): It is on Keylong-Koksar road over 30 kms. from Keylong. There is a big waterfall here. This is the seat of God Geypan, who is worshipped in the entire valley.
KOKSAR(3140 m): It is 21kms. beyond Rohtang pass in Lahaul and is the coldest place in Lahaul. HRTC workshop, Rest House, police assistance and eating places are available during the season.
JISPA: It is 20kms from Keylong on the bank of Bhaga river having a rest house and mountaineer hut. There is a big camping ground. Sufficient trout fish is available in the river.
GEMUR: It is 18 kms. from Keylong in Bhaga valley where devil dance is held during July in the Local Gompa. The place is situated on Manali-Leh highway.
DARCHA(3360 m): It is 24 kms. from Keylong on Leh road where a camping ground is available. From Darcha trekkers start their trek to Padem, via Shingola as well as Baralacha/Phirtsela. There is a police check-post for assistance. Beyond this point there are hardly any trees. Yotche and Zanskar Nallahs meet Bhaga river here from different directions.
BARALACHA LA(4883 m): It is about 73 kms. from Keylong on Manali Leh road. The name means pass with cross roads on summit (roads from Ladakh, Spiti and Lahaul join at the top). There is no road yet from Spiti. Only a path exists. This is also the point of origin of Chandra, Bhaga and, Yunam rivers. They flow to three different directions through the Chandra, Bhaga and Lingti valleys.
SARCHU: It is the last border point between Himachal and Ladakh, where HPTDC put up a tented colony for the convenience of the touristsduring summer season. It is situated at a distance of 116 kms. from Keylong.
SHANSHA: This is on the right bank of river Chandra-Bhaga (Chenab) at a distance of 27kms. from Keylong on Udaipur road. The Geypan, a powerful deity of Lahaul is believed to be born here. A shrine dedicated to the deity has also been built in this village.
TRILOKINATH TEMPLE: Trilokinath means the Shiva. A Temple is situated in the village which is about 4 kms. short of Udaipur on the left bank of Chenab river. Devotees from far off places come to pay their respects at this unique temple. This Shiva temple was given a look of Budhist shrine by Guru Padmasambhava by installing the 6 armed image of Avalokiteshvar. It is now sacred both to Hindus and Bhudhists alike and attracts many pilgrims from both these communities. In August, a big festival named Pauri is held for three days when people including the sadhus and followers of various religious sects gather to receive the blessings of Lord Trilokinath.
UDAIPUR(2743 m): In olden times this village was known as Markul and so the name of local goddess is Markula Devi. The temple here is unique and famous for its wooden carving on its roof and ceiling. Its name was changed by Raja Udai Singh of Chamba. This place is situated near the confluence of Chenab and Mayar Nallah. This place is therefore a starting point for Mayar valley and further on to Zanskar and other peaks. This is a green area rather the whole Chenab valley is greener than the Lahaul valley. It has a rest house and some hotels and is a good resting place.
Some years back the road was only upto this point and from here the trekking expeditions to different areas used to start. Now the road is under construction beyond this place and the bus is goes upto Tindi. This road has now been connected up to Killar, which is the meeting point of another roads; one from Kishtwar(J&K) and from Chamba over the Sach pass.
Spiti is the sub division of Lahaul & Spiti district with its hqrs. at Kaza. It is called "Little Tibet" because it has almost the same terrain, vegetation & climate . Spiti also means "Middle Country". It lies between Tibet, Ladakh, Kinnaur, Lahaul & Kulu. From Shimla via Kinnaur there is a motorable road which remains open upto Kaza for 8 to 9 months. About 10kms. ahead of Pooh, satluj enters India near Shipki la & Spiti river joins it at Khab. The road then goes to Sumdo via Hangrang valley. From Sumdo Spiti valley starts. The Spiti river flows fast through deep gorges at some places. The valley is not wide but there are villages and some fields where people grow barley, buck- wheat, peas & vegetables. It has an area of 4800 sq. kms. Some inhabitants have adopted Budhism as there faith and Bhoti is the spoken language. The people are simple and honest. The main Spiti valley is split into eastern and western valleys. They are connected with Ladakh & Tibet on eastern side & Kinnaur and Kulu on western side through high passes.
There are a large number of gompas in this valley but it has also some important and famous monasteries, a brief description is given.
KYE MONASTERY: It is situated 12 kms. north of Kaza and serves the western population of Spiti. It is the oldest and biggest monastery of the valley and located at (4116 m) above Kye village. It houses beautiful scriptures and paintings of Budha and other goddesses. Lamas practice dance, sing and play on pipes and horns. Many Lamas get religious training here. It has murals and books of high aesthetic value.
THANG YUG GOMPA: It is located 13kms. above kaza serving western part of central Spiti. Situated in a secluded place in the narrow gauge of Kaza Nallah, it generally has a Lama from Tibet. Above this there is a long plateau which leads to Shilla peak.
KUNGRI GOMPA: It is situated in the Pin valley about 10 kms. from Attargo where Spiti river has to be crossed to enter Pin valley. It is serves the population of Pin valley.
DHANKAR MONASTERY: It is situated about 25 kms. east of Kaza and serves eastern part of central Spiti. Dhankar is a big village and erstwhile capital of Spiti Kingdom. On top of a hill there is a fort which use to be the prison in olden times. The Monastery has about 100 Lamas and is in position of Budhist scriptures in Bhoti language. Principal figure is a Statue of " Vairochana" (Dhayan Budha) consisting of 4 complete figures seated back to back. It has relics in the shape of paintings and sculptures.
TABO MONASTERY: It is another big gompa for serving the population of eastern side. It belongs to the tenth century and is located 50 kms. from kaza. It is a famous gompa next to Tholing Gompa in Tibet. It has about 60 Lamas and a large collection of Scriptures, wall paintings etc. Murals of this gompa have a great similarity to that of the Ajanta paintings.
There are two routes to enter Spiti.
From Manali via Rohtang Pass to Kaza, the hqtr. of Spiti. Manali is connected by Air, Rail and Road. From Manali, there is a regular bus from July to October.
From Shimla via Kinnaur. Shimla is connected by Air, Rail & Road. From here by buses to Kaza from May to October.
KUNZUM PASS(4590 m): As Rohtang pass is a gateway to Lahaul so Kunzum pass is the gateway to Spiti from Kulu & Lahaul. After crossing Rohtang pass and driving 20kms, one has to turn right from Gramphoo. While going to this pass, the panoramic view of Bara-Sigri glacier (second longest glacier in the world) is enthrilling and inspiring.
There is a temple at the top of this pass dedicated to goddess Durga. After seeing this pass one can drive to Batal for a night stay in the Rest House. The view from the top is breathtaking. On one side is the Spiti valley and to the other are numerous C.B.(Chandra-Bhaga ) range peaks. On way back from Gramphoo one can either return to Manali (71kms.) or can go to Leh via Keylong , Darcha, Baralacha la, Sarchu, Tanglang la by road. From Tandi (8kms. short of Keylong) one can also drive to Pangi valley along the Chenab river to Udaipur, Trilokinath and Tindi and thereafter by trekking to Killar. From Killar to Chamba/Dalhousie/Delhi or to Kishtwar- Jammu-Delhi.
LOSAR(4080 m): It is situated near the confluence of Losar and Peeno streams. this village is worth a visit being the first big village and because of its Location. Yak and horse riding are other charms to add to its beauty and unique experience.
KAZA(3800 m): 224 kms. from Manali, 197kms. from Keylong and 425kms. from Shimla. Kaza is a Sub Divisional Hqtr. of Spiti Valley. It is situated at the foot of the step ridges on the left bank of Spiti river. There are PWD rest houses and a private hotels for the staying. Once it was the hqtr. of Nono, the chief of Spiti. It has all modern facilities and is connected by road with Manali & Shimla except in the winter months.
KIBBER(4205 m): It is locally known as Khyipur, one of the highest villages in the world at an altitude of 4205 m above sea level in a narrow valley surrounded by mountains from all sides. Rest Houses available for the visitors. Gette village, at a short distance away from kaza, is the highest in the world with a height of 4270 m.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Udaipur - The city of lakes :
The city is one of the most romantic cities in Rajasthan adorned with beautiful gardens, marble palaces and lakes which make Udaipur look like the mirage in the desert. Udaipur is also known as the “Jewel of Mewar” because it was ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for a consecutive duration of 1200 years. There are many places of tourist interest in Udaipur that make one’s journey unforgettable embedded with cherishable moments.Connectivity :By Air: Udaipur is well connected by air to to Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Mumbai.By Road: Udaipur is well connected by rail with Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Chittaurgarh and Ahmedabad.By Road: Udaipur is well connected by road to Jaipur (400 kms), Jodhpur (275 kms) and Ahmedabad (260 kms).Highlights of thr city :The most memorable site of Udaipur is its Lake Palace, shimmering like a jewel on the Lake Pichola which was the former residence of the princes of Mewar and today is a magnificent luxury hotel.Lake Pichola: Hills, splendid temples, fantastic palaces, bathing ghats and embankments, encircle this beautiful lake which was built by Maharajah Udai Singh. The two breathtaking palaces namely Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas (Lake Palace) can be seen amidst this lake.City Palace: The City Palace lies on the banks of the Lake Pichola and happens to be an assortment of rooms, long corridors, open terraces, pavilions, hanging gardens and courtyards. The City Palace of Udaipur was built in 1559 and must be visited for all the tourists. It offers a clear view of the "Jag Niwas" (Now the Lake palace hotel) and the "Jag Mandir". The Mor-Chowk or Peacock courtyard and the Chini Chitrashala are striking features of City Palace with a series of wall paintings of Krishna.UdaipurErected in 1651 by Maharaja Jagat Singh, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located in the centre of the old city. The temple has a black marble image of Lord Vishnu, which is unusual for the northern part of the country, where statues of Gods are normally in marble.Sahelion Ki Bari: The "garden of the maids of honour" or Sahelion-ki-Bari was designed and built early in the eighteenth century as a retreat for ladies of the royal household to spend their time in leisure. The lotus pool, fountains, lawns, flowerbeds, and marble pavilions all together make it a captivating place.Eklingji and Nagda: Nagda, the ruined remnant of an ancient capital of Mewar, is situated 20km northeast of Udaipur and dates back to the 6th century AD. A few kilometers away is the famous temple complex called Eklingji. There is still a majestic pair of 10th century Vaishnavite temples, known as Saas-Bahu - literally "Mother-in-law" and "Daughter-in-law". The temple was erected in 734 A.D and contains 108 temples within its enclosure. The shrines are dedicated to the presiding deity of Mewar, Eklingji, an aspect of Shiva.Nathdwara: Nathdwara or "Gateway to God is situated 48 km from the city and is an important pilgrim center of the Hindus. It houses one of the most respected 17th century temple - Nathdwara, which pulls thousands of devotees from all over India especially during the festivals of Diwali, Holi and Janmashtami. The shrine, dedicated to Krishna - known as Nath, the most worshipped incarnations of Vishnu, is said to be the second richest temple in India after Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The radiant Pichwal paintings, which adorn the main sanctuary of the temple, are known for their eternal charisma and grace.Ranakpur: Ranakpur, a collection of temples, is situated 90km north of Udaipur and is one of the five holiest places of the Jains. The shrine is proud of graceful marble works, which can be compared to the famous Dilwara group of temples at Mount Abu and Shatrunjaya near Palitana in Gujarat.The prime shrine called as Chaumukha temple, a four faced temple, is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankar, the ford maker, whose four-faced image is kept in the sanctum sanctorum. It was constructed in 1439 on land donated to the Jains by Rana Kumbha of Mewar.Other temples are dedicated to Parshvanath and Neminath. In the same compound is a contemporary Hindu temple in honour of lord Surya, the Sun god.