Cultural Aspect of Trekking

Every hiker loves nature. But the cultural attractions along the route, for instance the locals houses, traditions, temples, festivals, are the icing on the cake. The natural beauty will gladden a trekker’s heart but the region’s cultural diversity will really speak to their soul. Have you ever thought to know more about local culture and their traditions? if not do this in your next trek and you will see how it will enhance your trek experience.

Here, I want to share with you my experience of Pin Bhaba trek which I did in August 2016.

This is one trek which is liked by most . The landscape you start from and the one you finish in have nothing in common. Another stand out feature would be the high culture element in this trek. One gets to experience the Kinnaur and Spiti culture at very close quarters, with both being distinct and welcoming.

The trek starts from Kinnaur Region, which is picture perfect with lush green landscapes, inviting meadows, gushing streams and beautiful valleys. Kinnaur is believed to have fallen from the clouds as a gift from the Gods.

The land of Kinnaur is located in the lap of the Dhauladhar and Zanskar ranges. The mighty Sutlej and Baspa rivers flow through its rugged terrain.

Most Kinnauri households have a unique wooden chest in which they keep grains and dried fruits. These Wooden grain storage structures are called ‘Kathar’. In Kinnaur, people are mostly Hindu and the Hindu deities that are held in the highest esteem are Durga, Bhairon, Usha, Narayan, Vishnu, Badrinath and Bhimakali. In some places Nag Devta is also worshipped. Here you will find some of the most beautiful temples you have ever seen.

If you ever visit Kinnaur do not forget to taste the local wine called Angoori made from apples, grapes, and apricots. It’s nothing short of a divine drink.

On the Pin Bhaba trek you will meet the Shepherds “Gaddis” of Bhabha valley. They are incredibly hospitable people and a treasure trove of information about these mountains. They are Gypsies in true nature as they always travel to the pastures along their flocks. They are very friendly and helpful. After 4 days of trek you reach the Pin Bhaba pass from the pass you decend down to Spiti valley Aptly tagged as ‘Little Tibet’ – this rugged and sprawling cold desert is rough, barren yet totally stunning. The landscape of this valley is stark and spectacular and challenges one’s idea of beauty at all stages. This valley is open only for a few months every year as the high passes leading to it gets blocked by snowfall. The trek ends at a small and quaint village called Mudh in the famous Pin valley.

Spiti has many age-old monasteries, a fascinating culture and the local cuisine (that’s totally different from rest of India). Spiti region is very kind living in the harshest climatic conditions. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, this cold desert is a beautiful world in itself.

Spiti valley is home to the Mahayana (Vajrayana) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to this valley in the 9th century and ever since the people of this valley have followed the non-violent and compassionate religion. Later in the 11th century AD, Rinchen Tsangpo strengthened the foundation of Buddhism in the region. Under his guidance, many monasteries were established in this region. Some of them like Key Monastery, Dhankar Monastery, Tabo Monastery are popular tourist attractions today.

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