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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

iDemystify | My Encounter With Spiti

  • Wednesday, September 03, 2014
  • by
“You say you thought Spiti is hostile? And it’s not got anything to do with the people. How’d you explain that?”

Even before I put up my first post – the photo essay – on returning from Spiti, I’d been struggling to first, articulate and then find my own answer to this vague but looming vibe I seemed to have picked up.

That. Of all the other possible vibes.
And then there’s whole temptation to not go meta with an explanation.
But I am digressing.

What’s Spiti like? If I were to paint a picture of words --
Rugged, never-ending mountain ranges 
Within them are housed the monasteries of Dhunkar, Tabo, Kee 
Carpeted mostly in greens but sometimes azures, crimson or splotches of yellows
Snow-capped peaks as the backdrop
Clear blue skies
Tufts of white woolly clouds to adorn it
Still and not so still waters running both deep and wide
Unadulterated clean air everywhere (happy lungs if you discount trouble one may encounter courtesy the altitude)

And here's what the Spitians are like --
My week in Spiti wasn’t without the homestay experience. I had two - one at Demul and then at Komic. (I’m a big proponent of homestays. Read: the post on my reasons why). The Spitians leave no stone un-turned in ensuring that you have the warmest and as comfortable as possible a stay.
Hot piping food 
Farm fresh fruits
Huge yet soft and clean quilts
Locally brewed arak during meals
And tea when you walk in unannounced.

And they tell you their stories --
Stories of taking their cattle to graze in the mountains
Of festivals they celebrate
Of life during the winters when they’re shut off from the rest of the world
Of how the local medicine man learnt his way of diagnosing you (and your medical history) in flat 30 seconds by merely studying your pulse

And you begin to see them as they are --
Happy, like the big statue of Buddha at Langza
One might be led to think that they are oblivious to the opportunities that exist outside of this valley. I think not.
There’s television (even though there’s sporadic electricity) as much as there are folk like me and you visiting that informs them of things we deem to be advancement.

What’s this got to do with hostility?
I figured that out on a Friday evening when relating the same inexplicable vibe to a friend when bam! it struck me.

Spiti by virtue mostly of its topography compels you to look no further than your immediate next step. Your immediate now (almost).
And you begin to see it’s a tough life out there.
And how!
Villages sprinkled very scantily over the valley
Populated in, mostly, just double digits
Roads, conspicuous by their absence
Just dust everywhere
Therein I saw a land that refuses to be tamed
In spite of the years of human habitation
It remains impenetrable and coarse
Nothing simulated

And hence hostile


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Logophile | Tree-hugger | Wanderer | Cynophilist |

Heart+Mind behind ‘Be You For You’ and ‘Have Feet Will Travel’. At the core of what I offer and what I do best are three keywords: Storytelling. Expression. Authenticity.


  1. It is good to know that its a land that refuses to be tamed.
    Congrats Elita in being in the top 100.

    1. Yeah, some elements refuse human mastery over them.

      And thank you :) Awaiting results on the 16th

  2. I am utterly charmed. Like I tweeted, your words paint pictures, and the gorgeous ones you've clicked match them exactly.
    (FYI... You've not linked to anything about why you're a proponent for homestays)

  3. Thank you Surya :) I think every traveler likes to know that s/he was able to do justice to the stories brought back

    And yeah my bad! I've fixed the glitch and added the link to a post on homestays (and why I'm a staunch advocate)

  4. Great post Elita... I've heard that Spiti, while being beautiful, is one of the loneliest places in the world...

    Very well written... You've created an urge in me to visit the place :)

    1. Thanks so much, Vishal.
      Glad to know that you've been further inspired to make that wish a reality. There's a charm to that loneliness. Took me some time to wrap my head around it too though. Would love to hear about your experience once you've made the trip :)

  5. This reminds me of the days I recently spent in Spiti. Beautifully written! My own takeaway was that the warmth of Spitians compensates for the harsh terrain approximately twice over :)

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I completely resonate with you on the warmth of the Spitians.