Keylong: A Mix of Virgin Nature And Buddhism


Manali: Just 122 km north of the picturesque Manali tourist resort, a serpentine road meandering its way through the gargantuan hills takes you to a haven of green fields and willow trees.

Water streams bordered by jagged hills and almost round-the-year snowcapped peaks welcome you as you forget about the ups and downs of a hilly journey to settle down on the banks of the Bhaga river.

But that's not all. Besides the innate beauty of the Himalayas, Keylong, situated at an altitude of 10,354 ft on the main road to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir over the majestic Rohtang Pass, takes you to a land of Buddhism and monasteries.

This administrative centre of Lahaul-Spiti district and its nearby two dozen small, scattered villages, located in the Lahaul Valley at elevations ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 ft above sea level, give a taste of adventure too.

"It's simply a land of trans-Himalayan Buddhism, imbued with rich elements of Hinduism," remarked Australian tourist John Clarke.

Not open throughout the year, the landlocked Lahaul Valley remains cut off for at least five months from December owing to heavy snow accumulation at the Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft) - the only connection with Manali in Kullu district.

It reopens once the snow starts thawing after mid-April.

Very close to Keylong is the Kardang Gompa. Visible from Keylong, the monastery and Kardang village lie across the Bhaga river.
Against the backdrop of bare mountains, the monastery, five kilometers from here, is believed to date to the 12th century and is one of the most revered places of the Drug-pa (red hat) sect.

Guru Ghantal monastery, some eight km from Keylong, lies high over the confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers. It's regarded as the oldest monastery in Lahaul.

The temple in Trilokinath, 53 km from Keylong, is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. Both pay homage to a single image.
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