Travelling is like dreaming. It is as thrilling as dreams. And there is a sense of peace – which you got to find for yourself, in nature or landscape or people and culture. I feel so blessed when I look back at my journey in the Himalayas. It’s truly Incredible India without barriers. This was my 5th Day of Solo Backpack. My next destination was “Nako” which is 103 Km from Recong Peo and about 5 hours journey by HSRTC Bus. It is the largest village at an elevation of 3,625 meters below Reo Purgyal Mountain which has an elevation of 6,816 meters and is the highest mountain in Himachal Pradesh. Nako is also famous for its beautiful lake & 11th-century monastery. Hope you enjoy this place as much as I did. Like and Share if you l love it!
Remember the 5 friends I made on the bus towards Nako, Greeshma Francis ( A Philosopher), Yvette Lee (A Tom Boy – please don’t kill me), Nitin Choudhary (Guru), Meitar & Tzlil Barda (Rockstar Siblings). They say, “a journey should be measured in friends instead of miles”. So very true! I am glad I met you guys and we completed our journey together.
We reached Nako around 6 pm. The bus dropped us on the main highway and we had to travel 1 km uphill to reach the main village. As you enter the village there will be plenty of home stays. We found one at 600 rupees. 🙂 Happiness! We kept our luggage and decided to visit the famous Nako Lake first and then monastery in the morning. The company of a professional photographer is worth treasuring on a journey like this. I was happy I had one with me! We had hoped to capture the sunset on the late, but it was not our evening. By the time we reached the lake, it was all too dark to shoot anything. The photograph above is one of the attempts.
So what do you do when you don’t have any place to visit in the night? A good drink, and a good night sleep. 🙂 . Yeah, with the hope that we shall wake up early morning and take a village tour. Nitin & I decided to do a documentary shoot early morning on the lifestyle of Nako villagers. We woke up at 5 am and started to explore. We were stunned by the simplicity and humbleness of villagers. Each and every person was smiling and greeting us as if they knew us from a long time. We specially observed the small rocks everywhere with Mantra written on them. No wonder this place is so peaceful.
A typical home structure in Nako Village.
We saw a lady who was working in front of her home. We took permission from her for taking a portrait. She was kind enough to say yes. When we asked her why she was carrying a baby on her back early morning while doing her chores? She said that the baby won’t let her work if she keeps her down and also, that she enjoyed this morning ride! Adorable is the word!
“A successful woman is one who can build a strong foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her”.
Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. A Big Salute to all the valley women.
The most common thing in Nako village was Prayer wheels or Mani wheels. It’s a cylindrical wheel made of metal, wood or stone. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheels. Villagers purposely place all these wheels on the main roads, so that travelers can touch and rotate them as they believe the wheels accumulate wisdom and merit (good karma) and purify negativities (bad karma).
Here’s an ancient wall painting under one of the domes on the main road. Villagers told that it’s a 1000 years old painting and sadly, they have no records of creators. Worse was that there was nobody to take care of it.
The most interesting part of our village tour was seeing live sheep shearing. Two villagers were shearing the wool in their traditional method. Nowadays, there are a lot of electric equipment which makes this task easy but in the Himalayas, people still use the traditional knives and cutters. They told us it normally takes 2 hours to cut the entire wool off one sheep. Wondering how would the sheep behave during the whole process? Just imagine giving a bath to a naughty child.
Sheep are normally shorn in summers, depending on the climate. Villagers avoid shearing during winters. These Shorn sheep tolerate frosts well, but young sheep could suffer in cold and wet windy weather. They told us they will keep shorn sheep under shade for several nights until they get used to it.
Moving on, a lot of manmade rock cubicles were there for pet animals. Unfortunately, there was no shade over them.
When we asked villagers about the shades, they said that the animals are very much habituated to the environment and climate. Their body adapts as per sunny or snowy days. The cubicles are only meant to ensure that they don’t run outside. It is also easier to feed them.
Finally, it was a time for Nako Lake. We did not realize we had spent almost 3 hours in the village. The lake is surrounded by willow and poplar trees and is a treat to eyes. There is a waterfall nearby which has snow water falling like a river of milk. People say that it is a heavenly realm of fairies. They say in one of the caves you can still see the live footprints of these fairies or other demigods. It is a sacred place for the valley.
We decide to walk a bit and have a top view of the lake and the village. The love for photography makes you do all this. It was a 30 min walk from lake to top hill and it was totally worthwhile.
Villagers told us there was a temple on this hill but it had been destroyed in local wars ages ago. But the remains of the temple remain!
The view of Reo Purgyal Mountain of the Srikhand range from the highest point of the village.
In the entire journey, I noticed so many places where people create a seven or five stone tower. They create these small towers by keeping big to small flat stones. Why do they do that? I am clueless. If anybody knows, please enlighten me. You can use the comment section below.
OM MANI PADME HUM
The top view of Nako Hill with mantra temple.
Tired! Walked almost all roads of the village. Met tons of villagers. Tried to cover all the aspects of the villagers and their life. Can’t write everything here but all in all, it was an altogether different experience from the previous destinations. It was a time to move on to the next destination “Kaza” – the largest town in Spiti & Lahaul Valley. Stay glued.
My Itinerary for Solo Backpack Trip to Spiti Valley