Waking up in the morning never felt so fabulous before. I had tried reading up whatever little the internet had to offer about these places I was about to visit today, and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.
Kaza to Langza
We were all set, for the initial 16 Km drive northeast of Kaza towards Langza village. There were just 3 vehicles other than our own, driving along the roadway, which could sometimes only accommodate one vehicle at a time. The vehicles are usually seen moving in a convoy, an unsaid measure taken by the well-informed drivers, trying to look-out for each other in case your vehicle gives way. With no connectivity, physical or virtual, the meagre vehicles that you can see are the only source of help. Going deeper into the Himalayas, most of it barren, there came some breathtaking views of snow peaked mountains at the far end of the horizon. Despite the 2 hours of journey, it left me with a longing for that unreachable world…
The entire village is cut-off during the winter months between Novembers to February, the roads blocked by snow. We could finally see a small village, with not more than 40 houses. As we went closer, a small heart-shaped lake divulged, surrounded by vast green patches of land. A meaningful coincidence created by nature or “Synchronicity”, as Jung would put it. It reminded me of Einstein’s famous quote,
“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
As we approached the village, we saw that the houses were built much lower in the valley and the road itself led us to an enormous statue of the meditating Buddha, facing the snow peaked mountains. Standing beside that statue, the wind flowing through my hair, sun on my face, milky-white Mountaintops before my eyes, it was an experience so invigorating, I simply cannot explain except by saying that you’ve got to be there to feel it. There were 2 teenaged siblings sitting beside the statue, selling some homemade tea from their flask and some fossils they had collected from the nearby rocks. The village is well known for their fossils, deciphering the mystery of the Himalayan creation. For those interested, one can stay longer in this village to go fossil hunting. There are a handful of locals who’ve opened up their homes for travellers as homestays. It has now become one of their sources of income during the summer months.
Buddha statue at Langza
Langza to Komic
Another 8 Km away was Komic, the highest village in the world connected with a motorable road. This small village is located at a height of 4587 meters above sea level inhabited by just 114 people. There is an 800-year-old monastery here with 2 red buildings built apart. One of them houses monks while the other one was closed. We walked around the place and found the view from behind the monastery to be spectacular. There were a few grazing Dzos and Dzomos on the grassy areas. They are sometimes also called Yattle or Yakow, being a hybrid of Yak and domestic cattle. These mountains are also homes to Blue Sheep, Ibex and Snow Leopard which are sometimes spotted during commute if you’re lucky.
Komic to Hikkim
Hikkim is located just 2 Km from Komic at an altitude of 4400 meters. It is the world’s highest polling station recorded in the Limca book of records and also has the world’s highest post office. Having bought a few postcards from Kaza, we walked into the post office just in time before it closed for lunch. There was a frail old postmaster who had become sort of a celebrity inside his dark and dingy post office with swarming tourists lounging around anything that remotely resembled a seat. Some of them were cherry-picking postcards from his collection while others were writing longwinded letters to post to themselves. The postmaster was very cheerfully thumping his rubber stamp on any postcard or envelope given to him, with or without a stamp (the office ran out of stamps and he was being kind). After clicking a few pictures in front of the post office, we climbed back on to our vehicle and headed back to Kaza.
That was a lot of “Firsts” I had experienced in a single day! How could I not etch this day into my memory?
Hikkim post office, World’s highest post office.
The descent back to Kaza
BEST TIME TO VISIT: May to October
THINGS TO DO IN LANGZA:
• Visit the Buddha statue.
• Trek to the lake.
• Short nature walks.
• Go fossil hunting.
• Stay overnight to experience their unique village life.
• Star gazing at night.
THINGS TO DO IN KOMIC:
• Experience a “first” by standing on the highest village in the world with a motorable road.
• Visit the monasteries.
• Short nature walks amongst the Dzos.
• Do nothing. Just be mindful.
THINGS TO DO IN HIKKIM:
• Visit the world’s highest post office.
• Post yourself/friends/family a post card from here. Sometimes they are out of postcards and stamps. You can buy them from Kaza before you leave.
• Walk through the village roads to understand their unique life.
NEED TO KNOW:
• The only way to get here is a private vehicle or the local bus that runs from Kaza twice weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
• Weather in the Himalayas is unpredictable. Dress in layers to be comfortable.
• Sun protective gear can never be enough here. Sunscreen, sunglasses, caps, anything that doesn’t take up too much space, you’ll be grateful to.
• There’s no mobile network AT ALL except for BSNL connections that work only in Kaza.
• We didn’t find any place to eat here, so we had our breakfast and lunch in Kaza before and after our trip respectively.
• For those who decide to stay in the homestays, there is homely food available while you stay.
• Don’t forget to carry water with you here.