Himachal · India · Spiti

Day 3: Chitkul to Tabo through Nako and Geyu Mummy

Day 3 was quite hectic as we have to cover almost 250 KM from Chitkul to Tabo covering Nako Monastery, Nako Lake and Geyu Mummy. Chitkul to Tabo is around 220 KM and geyu Mummy is another 20 KM detour after Sumdo which will take around 1.5 hours in total. Practically you doesn’t gain any height on the day and this will help you get acclimatize with the weather at nearly 12,000 ft where the the oxygen level is almost 40% less than sea level.

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We started around 6:30 from Chitkul, with the aim of reaching Nako 150 KM from Chitkul by lunch time. The roads from Chitkul to Karcham is quite narrow and dangerous but the beautiful valley on the way will keep your energy level high. There is a petrol pump on right hand side sometime after you enter into the Spiti circuit from Karcham, make sure to fill your tank here as the next reliable Petrol Pump is in Kaza which is claimed to be “The Highest Altitude Petrol Pump”. The road from Karcham to Pooh which is just before nako is still in construction, though the road gets wider but the quality doesn’t improve much. Pooh to Nako will take take you another one hour. The Spiti Valley starts only after Sumdo which is another hour from Nako. In the complete Spiti Valley you will find many Apple orchids, pluck some Apples and eat them fresh but make sure you don’t get caught. Exploring Spiti is not just about visiting various Monastery, Lakes and exploring villages; it’s about the journey as well.

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Entrance to Spiti Valley
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On the way to Nako

Nako is a small village with a population of around 400 odd people. There is a Monastery and Lake in Nako both of which are near to each other. Unfortunately the Monastery was closed when we reached Nako so we headed to the Lake which is around 500 meters from Monastery. Although the lake is the smallest of the three you are going to visit on the trip and the beauty is nothing as compared to Chandratal or Dhankar Lake still you get a beautiful reflection of the village and mountains in the lake. Spend sometime at Nako Lake and capture the beauty of Nako Lake. For those who want to explore more of Nako there are some good day hikes but you need to be physically fit to hike at an altitude of 12,000 ft. There is a small Tibetian food shop just as you come out of the road that goes to Nako lake which serves delicious fried rice do try it before leaving for Geyu Mummy.

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Nako Monastery
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Nako Lake

At around 2:30 we left nako and headed towards Geyu Mummy. To go to Geyu Mummy you will have to take a detour just after Sumdo around 40 KM from Nako, the main road goes towards Kaza and the 12 KM detour will take you to Geyu village. The Geyu Mummy Monastery is another 1 KM from the village. It’s when you are about to reach Sumdo you enter Spiti Valley through Khab bridge where Spiti river meets Satluj. The 500 year old mummy is naturally very well preserved without any chemicals and is located in a small room. A Monastery is being built closeby and the plan is to shift the mummy to the Monastery once constructed. Unaware of this fact we explored the whole Monastery only to get the disappointment of not finding Mummy. We asked a local around and that’s when he gave us the key of the room on the left of Monastery where the Mummy is kept. The Geyu itself is beautiful with barren mountains all around and river flowing on the left. It should not take you more than 1.5 hours to come back to Sumdo.

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New Monastery for Geyu Mummy in the centre and old room on the left
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Geyu Mummy
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A view from Geyu Mummy Monastery

Sumdo to Tabo is another half an hour journey. You will see a drastic change in landscape once you enter Spiti Valley. The Green mountains are left behind and the barren mountains welcoming you. The road from Nako to kaza to quite good and you can easily enjoy the ride and vistas of Spiti. There are quite a good homestays and guest house to stay in Tabo. There is a Guest House operated by the Tabo Monastery as well. Most of the guesthouse and Homestay have solar power so there is high change that you won’t get any hot water. I would suggest you to go for a walk around the village at night and sit near the new Monastery for sometime. At around 8:00 PM monks will come to chant their prayers, with cold breeze and stars shining right above your head. There is also a souvenir shop just near the Monastery. For those who wants to camp there is a helipad nearby the Tabo Monastery where you can set up your camp for the night. As we reached Tabo around 6:30 the Monastery was closed to we decided to call it a day and visit the Monastery in morning.

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