The world’s highest village with a road: Komik, Himachal Pradesh
In the lesser known side of the trans-Himalayan region of the Spiti Valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh is a tiny village known as Komik. The village is situated at a towering altitude of around 15,027 feet above sea-level. Komik is supposed to be the highest village with a motorable road in the continent of Asia. The village is also believed to be the highest in the world. The literal translation of the name Komik is Snow Cock
Komik is located at a distance of around 18 kilometers from the town of Kaza which was once the district head quarters of the Spiti Valley. The best way to get to Komik is by hiring a private taxi from Kaza since the government bus service to this village is neither frequent nor reliable. This is because villagers seldom venture out of the village on a daily basis. There is a bus which leaves from Kaza to Komik at 14:00 HRS on Tuesdays and Saturdays and takes around 90 minutes to reach the village. The bus returns back from Komik at 16:00 HRS the same day.
The taxis take around 45 minutes to an hour to reach from Kaza since the road leading to Komik is an unpaved mud road and is a steep winding uphill climb. The road is a seasoned dream with plenty on offer from the view of the entire plain land below to a bumpy ride through the mountains. This is also a rookie’s nightmare as the winding roads and the steep ascend from 12,000 to 15,000 feet coupled with the drastic change in weather conditions and the depletion of oxygen makes the trip to Komik extremely hard for a first time traveller.
On approaching the village of Komik the first thing travellers will notice is that the village is housed in a bowl shaped depression in the high trans-Himalayas and that the village is split into two different parts, one which is a smaller cluster of houses at the start and the latter which is a larger cluster of houses.
The village monastery (Gompa) is situated at the entrance and villagers say that monastery is more than 500 years old. The monastery has a rule which states that women are not allowed to enter during the prayers. The temple prayer time is usually twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. The monastery has a complex inside which is also the residential area of the lamas (temple monks). The interior and the exterior of the Komik Monastery are painted in beautiful bright colours.
From the monastery, the village is a good 500 meter walk down. But this is not your average stroll because the lack of oxygen and cold wind blowing at high intensity make the visit to the village a real challenge. Even at noon on a summer day in mid-June, the average temperature in Komik is around 7-9 °C.
A must do thing for every adventure junkie is to hike around the small hills and slopes which are located in close proximity to the village. These hills are rich in fossil life and there is a very high possibility of finding various ancient fossils. While hiking through these hills it is important to start early in the morning and return back from the hike by latest 14:00HRS since the temperature begins to drop drastically.
As the land is barren, it is not suitable to cultivate crops. The villagers in Komik are mostly shepherds and earn their livelihood by rearing sheep, yaks and horses. Running with the yaks is a must do for everyone who travels to Komik. The best time to catch them running is during the late afternoons which the shepherds are getting them back home after their grazing on the slopes around the village.
Accommodation in Komik is limited to a hand full of home stays which offer nothing more than a basic room with mattresses and thick blankets to keep warm during the cold nights. The home stays are very economical and also provide three daily meals with afternoon tea. The village monastery also has a guest house which has similar rooms to the ones in the village. This helps avoid the hassle of having to walk up and down to the village.
The best time to visit Komik is during the summer months from mid-May to the end of September. It is advisable to always carry a sleeping bag and thick woollens even during the summer months as the temperature there is quite low. During the winter months, Komik is always covered in snow with the temperatures dropping well below freezing point with an average of around -25°C to -35°C.
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