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Lahul and Spiti

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The district of Lahul and Spiti in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh consists of the two formerly separate districts of Lahul and Spiti. The present capital is Keylong in Lahul. Before the two districts were merged, Kardang was the capital of Lahul, and Dankar the capital of Spiti.

Geography

Lahul and Spiti are cut off from the rest of the world by high mountain ranges. The Rohtang Pass, at 3,978 metres, separates Lahul and Spiti from the Kullu Valley.The district borders Tibet to the east, the Ladakh region (within the state of Jammu and Kashmir) to the north, and Kinnaur and Kullu to the south.The Lahul sub-division consists of the Rangoli, Bhaga, Pattan, and Lingti valleys; while the Spiti sub-division consists of the Sham, Pin, Bhar, and Tud valleys.

Transportation

The Rohtang Pass has a reputation for avalanches and road-slides, and many travelers have been killed while crossing the pass. A newly built metalled road that leads over this pass to Ladakh is kept open for most part of the year because of its strategic importance. The building of a tunnel below the Rohtang Pass is under way, and is expected to be completed by 2012. Large quantities of potatoes, now the major crop of Lahul and Spiti, are transported over the Pass into Manali each year.

There are also passes that lead from Spiti into southwestern Tibet, but these are now shut due to the closed border between India and Tibet. There is another road leading west to Jammu through Kishtwar, the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Lahul and Spiti are cut off from each other by the higher Kunzum Pass, at 4,550 metres. A road connects the two divisions, but is cut off in winter and spring due to heavy snow.

Buses and taxis are available from Manali to Kaza, the headquarters of Spiti, during the summer months. The Kunzom pass remains open for vehicular traffic from around July to October. Road through Kinnaur, connecting Shimla with Spiti for vehicular traffic, is closed presently due heavy damage to the road, but the road remains open through the year , but people have to cover some parts on foot.

Climate

Because of their height, Lahul and Spiti have a very cold climate during winter months. Summer is quite pleasant. This often results in disruptions to electricity and transport, and there is little tourism during the cold winter months. However, the Spiti valley is accessible all year along the Old Hindustan Tibet road from Shimla to Kaza. The Lahul valley is not accessible until June though. however from December to April helicopter services at weekly intervals are available.

The climate of Spiti is too cold to support even tundra vegetation, and much of the land is barren and wild. It is a rare phenomenon to see temperatures rising above 20C during the summer months, even at the lower elevations.

Flora and fauna

The harsh conditions of Lahul permit only scattered tufts of hardy grasses and shrubs to grow, even below 4,000 metres. Glacier lines are usually found at 5,000 metres.

Animals such as yaks and dzos roam across the wild Lingti plains under the guidance of their masters. However, over-hunting and a decrease in food supplies have led to a large decrease in the population of the Tibetan antelope, Tibetan argali, Kiangs, musk deer, and snow leopards in these regions, making them endangered species. In lahoul valley one can easily see Ibex, brown beer, foxes and snow leopard during winter.

Lahul & Spiti        

     People    

Lifestyle

Religion

History

Tourism