Lahaul-Spiti, a Wonderful Natural Place of the Himachal Pradesh

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Devbhoomi Himachal, where its natural shade is scattered all around, while Lahaul-Spiti, a wonderful natural place of the state, is associated with Buddhist civilization and culture.

Even today the people of Lahaul-Spiti have special respect for their traditions and customs. This is the reason that the people of Lahaul tribe worship nature, whoever reaches to see the natural litigants of Lahaul valley, he finds the ancient history of ancient, cultural customs, civilizations, traditions and natural beauty in front of him.

Surrounded by lakes, passes and glaciers, Lahaul-Spiti valleys situated in the hem of rock-peaks touching the sky, are special for their magical beauty and nature.

Known for its diversity. Nature is seen in various pleasing costumes in these valleys of Himachal, which are a unique confluence of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Somewhere there are shimmering lakes between the peaks touching the sky, and somewhere the snowy desert is seen spreading far and wide.

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Somewhere the temples and gompas built on the mountains and the echoes of Buddhist mantras as well as the melodious sounds of musical instruments fill you with a supernatural feeling, while somewhere the fragrant smell of herbs and the beauty of snow-clouds are created by seeing them.

Lahaul-Spiti is bordered by Tibet in the east, Chamba in the west, Jammu and Kashmir in the north and Kangra-Kullu and Kinnaur in the south. This is the coldest region where Chandra, Bhaga, Spiti and Sarab rivers flow and there are many glaciers here.

India’s primitive native caste Munda had settled it. In the 1st century BC, the Bhot speakers of the Bhot country left Tibet and settled in Lahaul-Spiti from Ladakh.

Khash Arya came from the south and settled here in Lahaul-Spiti, the three languages of the three major castes are Bunam, Tinam and Manchat.

The world of God is called Lahi-Yul, from this Lahaul was formed. The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang linked its name to Lo-U-Lo in his travelogue.

The early rulers of Lahaul were small feudatories. In 400-500, Yarkand forces made many attacks on Lahaul. In the 17th century, Tibetan and Mongol rulers attacked here. As soon as Lahaul became independent from Ladakh in 1670, the rulers of Chamba took possession of it.

This area came to be known as Chamba-Lahaul. King Vidhi Singh of Kullu snatched it from Chamba and merged it with Kullu. Lahaul passed under the control of the Sikhs in 1840-41.

Due to repeated attacks on Lahaul by the rulers of Chamba and Kullu, Lahaul was divided into Chaba-Lahaul and British Lahaul in 1846-47. In 1853 the Meravian Mission established its headquarters at Keylong.

Spiti is called Ratnabhoomi

Spiti is also known as Ratnabhoomi. Rajendra Sen and Samudra Sen of the Hindu dynasty ruled here in 600-650. This is confirmed by the copper plate of Nirmand.

The Tibetan ruler Chub-Tsems-Pa captured Spiti in 1000 and built Tabo Gompa here. In 1680, Raja Gulab Singh of Kullu got control over Spiti.

In 1883, Spiti became a territory of the Nono community. In 1941 a tehsil was opened in Spiti. After attaining independence on 15 August 1947, Lahaul-Spiti remained under the Government of Punjab.

In 1960, the Punjab government made Lahaul-Spiti a district and kept its headquarters at Kaza. Lahaul-Spiti was transferred from Punjab to Himachal on the reorganization of Punjab on 1 September 1996. German priest A. W. Hyde started potato cultivation in Lahaul.

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Valley of Gems

Spiti is also known as the ‘Valley of Gems’. In the local language, ‘Si’ means gem and ‘Peet’ means place, that is, the place of gems.

Since many precious stones and diamonds are found in this valley of Himachal even today, it is only natural that it gets the title of ‘Valley of Gems’.

There is also a belief that thick layers of ice remain frozen in the rock peaks of this valley for hundreds of years and in such a long period the ice turns into gems.

Lahauli has been Living its History from Generation to Generation

Lahaul Valley is that part of Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh where the people of Lahauli tribe have been living their history from generation to generation.

Despite all the difficulties, there is neither a wrinkle nor any tiredness on the faces of the Lahaulis. Deep attachment to his soil spread a smile on his face and due to his courage, he is deciding the journey of life step-by-step.

In 1960, after separating some parts from the Kangra district of Punjab, they were merged with Himachal Pradesh in the form of a new district named Lahaul-Spiti.

According to the 1991 census, 13835 sq. km the population of this district spread over is 31294 and the population density is 2 persons per sq km.

In ancient times, after the death of Maharaja Harsh, the Indian state started disintegrating and the feudal system emerged in Lahaul. At that time Lahaul was ruled by four landlord families namely Kolong, Gumrang, Ghondla and Barbog.

According to historians, around 1000 BC, the Kolong families ruled Lahaul for three to four hundred years. But that rule of Kolong family used to be under Spiti king and later Lahaul also joined Ladakh Sultanate like Spiti.

Passing through many stages of power with the changing times, at the time of independence of the country in 1947, Naib Tehsildar looked after the administrative work of Lahaul and Kolang used to be the headquarters of the administration. When Lahaul-Spiti was made a district, Kollong was given the status of Tehsil.

“Lahaul” Covering all the Heritage of Hinduism and Buddhism for Centuries

Lahaul, covering all the heritage of Hindu and Buddhist religions, has been a wonderful example of unity for centuries. Where Buddhism came from Tibet, on the other hand Hinduism got mixed in the climate of Lahaul with the influence of Punjab.

The Pattan Valley of Lahaul is inhabited by people belonging to the Hindu faith, while Buddhist chants resound in the Rangoli and Gara valleys.

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The people of Lahauli tribe in Pattan Valley believe in the worship of Shiva and Durga i.e. Shakti. The past of Lahaul is associated with Tibet and this is the reason why Buddhist civilization and culture are seen flourishing in this valley.

There are mainly three sects of Buddhism prevalent among the people of Lahauli tribe: the first Nyongmapa, the second Kagyudpa and the third Gelugpa. The Nygmapa sect is the oldest.

The Gelugpa sect, also known as the Peeta sect in Buddhist society, in which lamas wear yellow hats. The Kagyudpa sect is also the basic mantra of knowledge related to faith and belief for the people of Lahauli tribe.

People of Lahauli Tribe Worship Nature

Apart from this, Lahauli has a wonderful association with nature. As a result, the people of Lahauli tribe also worship nature. While they worship the mountain rocks in the form of ‘Sabdga’, they worship the caves in the form of Vragmas.

Trees and plants have also been given a respectable place in their tradition. Phala is one such tree, which is worshiped like a deity in the Lahauli tribe. Apart from these, the people of Lahauli tribe also have their own family deities.

These family deities are established in the form of a stone or pillar in any corner of their house. Like other societies, among the people of Lahauli tribe, the beliefs of their religion are the universal truth of life, and also the basis.

Followers of Lahauli Hindu and Buddhist Tradition

The practice of caste system in the Lahauli tribal society has been going on since ancient times. In terms of religious belief, Lahauli is a follower of Hindu and Buddhist tradition, and according to these two beliefs, the caste system is prevalent here.

Here the basis of classification of castes has been done on the basis of genealogy system i.e. high and low caste system. Thakur belonging to the upper caste,

Here the basis of classification of castes has been done on the basis of genealogy system i.e. high and low caste system. Thakurs, Swanglas and Brahmins who belong to higher castes make relations like food and marriage within their own caste.

Among these upper castes, the Brahmin class is limited only to the Pattan valley and their presence is not even nominal in the rest of Lahaul. The classification in the backward castes has been determined on the basis of their occupation.

In the Lahauli tribal society, blacksmiths are known as ‘Domba’, weavers as ‘Beda’ and ‘Bararas’. Dharkar is called ‘Walrus’. The landless laborers who worked as laborers on the farms of the higher tribes were called ‘Hessi’.

Chinese Traveler Hiuen Tsang addressed Lahaul as ‘Lo-Yu-Lo’

Lahaul and Spiti are names of different valleys adjacent to each other but despite the diversity of nature, their religious, cultural and historical background is largely similar.

Lahaul was addressed by the name of ‘Lo-Yu-Lo’ by the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang and Rahul Sankrityayan called it as ‘The Country of the Gods’. Lahaul is called ‘South Country’ in Tibetan language.

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If Lahaul is green then Spiti Valley is a snowy desert just opposite to it. Far away the eyes yearn for greenery but despite this the beauty of this icy desert is panoramic.

Four major Dialects of Lahaul and Spiti

Four major dialects are spoken in Lahauli and Spiti: these are Bhoti, Gehri, Manchal and Changsa. Each dialect is substantially different from each other. However, it is still spoken and understood throughout the state.

Bhoti Tibetan is spoken in Spiti, Bhaga and Chandra valleys. Gehri Kelong, Manchal and Changsa dialects are spoken in the valley of Chenaw. Only Bhoti has script and grammar while the other three are just dialects. It is taught by lamas in monasteries.

It is a matter of pride that the people here understand a little bit of Hindi despite being so culturally different. Many types of languages are prevalent in Lahauli tribe.

The language of Lahaul valley situated at the mouth of Buddhist and Hindu culture also has a mixed fragrance. Bhoti and Chinali or Drombali are the main languages of the people of Lahauli tribe who speak their words through about half a dozen dialects.

Bhoti language, but has the influence of Tibetan language, while Chinali or Dombali seems to be the product of Sanskrit language. The impact of these languages is also visible at the regional level.

The Bhoti language is spoken in the Rangoli and Gara valleys of Lahauli. By the way, other dialects are prevalent in these areas, such as Punan, Hinan and Manchad is prevalent in Chinali Pattan valley.

Construction and style of houses

Interior decoration of the house according to its tradition

The houses in the Lahaul Valley are built and styled like a colony, so that people can stay connected to each other during the days of snowfall. The houses of the people of Lahauli tribe are built up to three floors.

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The ground floor of the house is used for the living of the animals and these rooms are also used for keeping fodder for the animals. The upper floor of the house is used by the Lahauli family for their living.

There is an inner room on the upper floor, which is used to avoid the cold during winters. Lahauli people who believe in Buddhism have their worship room on the top floor of their houses, which is called ‘Chokhag’.

The style of construction of houses in the lower parts of the Lahaul valley is almost the same, but living in these houses is bigger, open and airy than the houses in the upper valley and these houses also have better lighting arrangements, which are located on the upper floor.

It is also considered very important to have a verandah on the upper floor in the houses. These houses are whitewashed with lime and at some places the use of colors is also visible.

The interior of the house is decorated by the people of Lahauli tribe according to their tradition. The place of worship i.e. ‘Chokhag’ has a special place in the decoration of the rooms.

In ‘Chokhag’, along with all the paintings related to the life and philosophy of Buddha, there is a presence of thanka painting.

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