The Spitian Fossil village: Langza, Himachal Pradesh
A 50 minute uphill winding drive covering 13.5 km from the town of Kaza in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh and one will reach the fossil village of Langza, which is situated in a bowl shaped duct. At a towering altitude of around 14,550 above sea-level (4435 metres), the mighty snow-capped Trans-Himalayan mountains are all around the village.
There are two options of getting to the village of Langza, the first is to hire a taxi from Kaza. The second option is to take the local HRTC government bus from Kaza to Langza, which runs twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays and departs from Kaza at 2 pm. It’s advisable to recheck the bus schedule a day prior to your journey. The takes around 70-90 minutes to reach Hikkim and is the most economical way of getting to the village.
At the first glance, travellers will instantly notice a towering Golden Buddha statue from at least a kilometre away which is believed to be around 1000 years old. All the houses in the village are built below the statue and are made of mud and have prayer flags tied around them to signify the strong Buddhist presence.
An absolute must do thing while in the village of Langza is to hunt for fossils of prehistoric marine animals which are found in abundance all around Langza. These fossils are over a million years old. The best way to get one if you don’t have the patience to search for them is to buy it from one of the many kids from the village who will surely come with these fossils and try selling them to you.
Another major attraction in the village are the two high altitude lakes around Tsonyeti and Chumo Tso. These lakes are around a three hour hike from the village and are not for the faint hearted with low oxygen levels and steep climbs these hikes are best attempted by seasoned hikers.
Langza is also the village where one can spot the coveted Himalayan snow leopard which is arguably one of the most beautiful animals in the high altitude Himalayan regions. Other animals such as the Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Griffon have been spotted around the village during the winter months from December to March.
The village is one of the highest ones in the world with a motorable road Owing to its proximity to Tibet in China, the population of the village is predominantly Buddhist and belongs to the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The village has a population of approximately 137 people living in 33 houses.
The main occupation of the people from the village is animal husbandry and farming, with potato, cabbage and spinach being their main cash crop. Tourism is soon becoming a very viable source of income for the people from the village.
Accommodation in Langza is limited to only very basic home stays which provide travellers which nothing more than a room with beds, mattresses and blankets. The washrooms are located outside the home stay and is just a hole in the ground with mud used to cover the faeces. The home stays also provide food which comprises of dal, rice, one vegetable and eggs.
The best time to visit Langza is during the summer months from May to September when the temperature is bearable and the scarce greenery aids majorly in breathing in the nights. Thick woollens are recommended even in summers with the night temperature dropping well below 5ºC.
Although Langza is accessible throughout the year, during winters the roads leading to the village are generally blocked with heavy snow fall. Winter temperature in Langza drops to -25ºC and the entire village is cut off due to the snow. To reach Langza during winters, one will have to either hitch a ride to the village or hike up 10km from Kaza.
Langza is the ideal village to visit and spend a night if not more just doing nothing but soaking in the Spitian life high up in the might Himalayas. It’s a village meant only for the travellers and not for the tourist.
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