Travel Himalyas
Nepal Tour Packages
Himachal Tourism, Himachal Pradesh Tourism, Ecotourism in Himachal Pradesh in India
The Himalaya, roof of the world, is a magic place where the magnificence of the world's highest mountains is mirrored in the rugged beauty and unique culture of the people who live in their shadow.

Tourism In Himachal Pradesh
Green Tourism For Himachal
The Last Awakening Call
Wildlife Reserves

Nepal Tour Packages
Delhi Manali Leh Jeep Safari

Nepal Tour

Duration: 06 Nights - 07 Days

Manali - Leh Jeep Safari

Duration: 07 Nights - 08 Days

Vaishno Devi Tour Package

Duration: 08 Nights - 09 Days

Nepal with India Tour

Duration: 09 Nights - 10 Days

Eastern Himalayan Cultural

Duration: 11 Nights - 12 Days

Darjeeling Tour

Duration: 05 Nights - 06 Days

Darjeeling Gangtok Kalimpong Tours
Booking Information/Reservation
Home >> Ecotourism in Himalayas >> Tourism Himachal Pradesh
Green Tourism For Himachal's Cold Desert
Lahaul & Spiti, Himalchal Pradesh

Vales Of Barren Splendour
Lahaul Spiti, HimachalLandlocked behind formidable mountain barriers in the western Himalayas, sheltered from the rain-bearing monsoon winds, the remote and desolate district of Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal is renowned not only for some of the wild, untamed and enchanting mountain scapes but also for its unique Buddhist culture.

Covering a total area of over 12,000-sq-kms, Lahaul-Spiti is the largest district of Himachal Pradesh. It shares a common border with Tibet in the east. A lofty offshoot of the great Himalayan range in the southeast separates it from Kinnaur. In the north, the Baralacha range separates it from the cold desert of Ladakh, while the Chamba and Kullu district lie to the west respectively.

Lahaul's only link to the outside world is by a road, which runs over the 3,980 m high Rohtang Pass. Lahaul is separated from Spiti by a high mountain range running towards the north from the great Himalayan range. A treacherous road over the Kunzam Pass connects the two valleys. Another road from Kinnaur links Spiti to the Hindustan-Tibet road.

Withstanding The Harsh Environ
Enmeshed in the folds of the great Himalayas, the climate is cold and arid, with very little rainfall. The topography, therefore, consists of dry, dusty desolate mountains, virtually devoid of vegetation spread endlessly in all directions like a moonscape, resembling Ladakh and Tibet. The monotony of this stark, haunting russet landscape is broken only by shades of green along the cultivated river valley.

Sculpted by the wind and moulded alternately by freezing cold and searing heat, the landscape of this frontier district has evolved a distinctive profile. Steep towering cliffs of hard rocks rise up into the perpetual azure sky all around, their slopes covered with heaps of weathered rocks. At the centre, the rivers have played their part, cutting deeper and deeper creating fertile banks. Few parts of the Himalayas can compare with Lahaul Spiti for sheer grandeur. And splendour of the mountains, for here nature holds sway in its wildest and grandest manner.

Bearers Of A Historic Cultural Heritage
Buddhist Temples & MonasteriesMarked by high mountains, bleak rugged topography and a harsh climate, the cultural landscape of this Himalayan borderland is characterised by a unique blend of two adjacent cultures. The Sino-Tibetan in the north and the Indian culture in the 7th century AD and with the passage of time it became the major religion of Lahaul-Spiti.

Today the district is studded with numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries including Labarang, Gondhala, Dalung, Keylong, Guru-Ganthal, Darcha, Markula in Lahul and Dhankar, Mud, Lidang, Rangrik, Ki (also spelt as Kye), Losar and Tabo in Spiti. A millennium old Tabo is one of the area's most revered monasteries. Often called the "Ajanta of the Himalaya" because of its breathtaking murals and stucco images, tabo's sanctity in trans-himalayan buddhism is next only to tibet's tholing gompa.

Apart from their religious influence the monasteries are also strongholds of tradition and treasuries of the region's art and manuscripts. Gompas, forts and chorten scattered all over the vastness of this cold desert provide an unending feast for the sightseer and for scholars, some authentic foot-notes and references to the local history and culture.

The Lahaul district of Himachal is one rare pocket in the Indian Himalayas where one may trace a continuous course of development of Trans-Himalayan Buddhism and it is probably one of the last remaining areas in which the original Tibetan-Buddhist culture remains untouched either by communism as in tibet, or by the dissolving influence of tourism to which ladakh has been exposed.

Traditions Blending With Modernisation
The traditional economy of this tribal belt was based on agriculture, sheep rearing and trade. The subsistence economy and culture evolved in response to the hostile environment. However with massive developmental works such as road construction, modern agriculture and horticulture, Government services alongwith the presence of a large number of "outsiders", armed forces, traders, government servants and road workers has altered the traditional way of life.

Changes have occurred in dress patterns, food habits; traditional occupations like sheep rearing and even in the religious life. Although change is inevitable and no community wishes to preserve itself as a museum of backwardness, it is the rapid pace of change and a lack of understanding of the nature of change, which a society is unable to control, or direct that touches a cord of concern. The development of tourism accelerates this process of change and rapidly pushes traditional societies into the global economy totally ill-equipped.

Promoting Tourism
LadakhLadakh was opened to tourism in the early 1970s without making any adequate preparation and ensuring safeguards. Since then, uncontrolled tourism has transformed Ladakh from a traditional to a typical tourist destination and many see western culture swamping the Ladakhi way of life. Today, the self-sufficient Ladakhi economy has undergone a massive and dramatic shift to one, which is dependent on the outside.

However, unlike Ladakh where uncontrolled tourism has disturbed the delicate ecological balance and brought drastic socio-cultural changes, Lahaul-Spiti is yet to face the full force of tourism. Tourism, if successfully managed, can contribute to the ability of the tribal people of this district to control and direct the change they are undergoing. Tourism development, poverty alleviation, awareness generation and strengthen the self-sufficient economy. This is the key to turning tourism's impacts from a burden into lasting sources of benefit. Isolated for centuries due to the inaccessible terrain and inhospitable climate this region is fragile, hence adequate safeguards need to be taken to protect this tribal belt from the adverse influence of tourism.

Such fragile areas should be open only to a very limited number of high spending tourists with proper regulatory control as is being done by Bhutan. Inspite of the large foreign exchange earnings that tourism brings, the Bhutanese government has been far-sighted enough to consider the hidden cost of tourism to its environment and culture by strictly controlling the number and the movement of tourists in the country. With only two entry points into the district, the government can easily restrict the number of tourists to the carrying capacity of the fragile environment. This, of course, is not a very fashionable decision to take but it does place the interest of the local people and their environment before short-term and cost-laden profits.

Tourism is only commencing in Lahaul-Spiti. The government therefore needs to finely tune the tourism industry to the local culture and the environment. The vulnerable nature of tourism to unstable political, social and economic conditions and seasonal nature of tourism dominant in the mountains should be overcome by efficiently planning the tourism infrastructure to make it multifunctional.

In fact tourism development must be integrated with the overall development of the region and the local people should be invited to participate in tourism right from the planning stage. It is also necessary to ensure some incentives to the locals from tourism. Environmental considerations must be integral in development of tourism in this region. Great care needs to be exercised to conserve the local culture, which is its greatest asset.

By planning and promoting a healthy, sustainable, tourism industry in this cold desert district, the government will have fulfilled its share of responsibility but in the end, it may not be the number of tourists but their sensitivity towards the local culture and environment that will determine the complexion of tourism and the future of this unique heritage.