Spiti, which is a part of the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal, is a high altitude or cold desert having close similarities to the neighbouring Tibet and Ladakh regions in terms of terrain, climate and the Buddhist culture.
Kaza, situated along the Spiti River at an elevation of 3,650 metres (11,980 ft) above sea-level, is the largest township and commercial centre of the valley.
2. Old and New Kaza
The town is divided into the old, as Kaza Khas and new as Kaza Soma sections. The new town contains administrative buildings. The Tangyud (Tang-Gyud) Gompa dates to the early 14th century and is built like a fortified castle with massive slanted mud walls and battlements with vertical red ocher and white vertical stripes. It is on the edge of a deep canyon and overlooking the town of Kaza, four km from the town. Approaching it from the south one sees Kyu-ling (Skyid-gling), the stately palace of the Nono (king) on the other side of the river.
Kaza is overlooked by high mountain ridges on all sides. It has two access points: one from Kinnaur valley and the other from the Lahaul valley, 11 km from Ki monastery, the famous Gelugpa establishment. The route through Kinnaur is open throughout the year, except for occasional short periods resulting from landslides or heavy snowfall. This road, starting from Shimla, follows the Sutlej river unto a little beyond Poo, thereafter turning northwards to follow the Spiti River all the way to Kaza.
The other road starts from Manali and after crossing the 13,090-foot (3,990 m) high Rohtang Pass to reach Gramphoo where it joins the road from Keylong and proceeds south along Chandra River till Batal then climbs up to cross the 14,928-foot (4,550 m) high Kunzum pass, enters the Spiti Valley to reach Kaza. It remains closed during the winter months, normally from October-end to June due to heavy snowfall on both the passes.
The temperature varies greatly in different seasons and during a day, January is the coldest month of the year with an average temperature of -25 °C, while July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 10 °C.
5. Ideal base camp
Kaza is known for its colourful festivals and the ancient Sakya Tangyud monastery, 14 km from the town. It is also popular with tourists and adventure seekers during summer months because of its central location and connections to the rest of the valley and outside. This central location also makes Kaza, an ideal base camp for trekking, mountaineering and tours directed to other parts of the valley.
6. Nearby Attractions
Some of the major tourist attractions in and around Kaza beside Tan Gyud monastery are the Key Gompa, Kibber village at an elevation of 4205 metres above sea-level, Gette village at an altitude of 4270 m above sea-level, Langza village famous for the presence of marine fossils, the Pin Valley National Park, a protected area for the Himalayan high altitude wildlife and the Losar village 40 km to the north of Kaza at an altitude of 4079 metres above sea level.
It is not difficult to find mid-range and budget accommodations in Kaza. Some are located near the river. PWD guest houses run by the Himachal Pradesh government are your other options but prior booking is a must. Homestays are recommended if you want to explore other cultures to the fullest.
Eating options are limited. Indian and Tibetan cuisines are available in and around Kaza and serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
9. Kaza’s speciality
The place is famous for its carpets, pure wool shawls and woolen clothes. Readymade garments made of Merino wool and unique items like bedroom slippers made of grass.
Festivals like Fagli and Gochi are celebrated. Hindus also celebrate their festivals like the harvest festival, festival of light. There are various fairs like Ladarcha fair, Pauri fair, etc.
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