The morning started on a positive note. All three of us were ready on time. I insisted that we take a detour at Sumdo to check out the Gue Mummy. The others not aware of existence of such a mummy, agreed instantly.
Route: Nako -> Sumdo -> Gue -> Sumdo -> Tabo -> Dhankar
The Stubborn Bike
Getting on to the highway with a pillion rider again was weird. The thought of my experience the previous day shook me up. The Israeli’s mention of the fact that this would be his first time on the bike did not go well with me. He however insisted that he would sit still and not cause any problem as the old lady. My bike huffed and puffed as we climbed from Nako to Sumdo. Although the roads were in good condition, my bike struggled under the weight of two of us with luggage. To make things easier, the English man offered to tie up my camera bag on his bike to which I obliged.
The drive went on uneventful with a slight drizzle keeping us company all the way to Sumdo police check post. Having completed the police formalities, we took the link road to Gue. There seems to have been a landslide which was not cleared up the previous day leading to big boulders occupying majority of the gravel road. I was in a good mood to abandon the trip to Gue and return back to main highway. The English man insisted that we could get pass the obstacles. He took the lead this time to show me the way. I learned a great deal of motoring skills from this man during the short 10km detour to Gue. The sight of the mummy after adventurous journey to Gue seemed to have disappointed both gentlemen.
“This is it? Come on! We came all the way for this?” said the Israeli.
I was not totally disappointed as my fellow travelers. The mummy at Gue was found during an archeological dig up in that village. It belonged to a Buddhist monk who was buried alive. It was said that at the time of finding the mummy, there was hair on the mummy’s head which oozed blood when pulled out.
The drive from Gue to Tabo was pleasant with my co-passenger sharing some jokes from his country. The English man led us to the place he had stayed earlier in Tabo. However it turned out to be an office as the lease for the rest house has expired. While my fellow travelers had gone searching for a place to stay for the night, I looked after the bike. In a desperate need to follow my friend to the hotel he had located, I managed to get my bike’s rare tyre stuck in a drain. I could not get off the bike nor was it possible for me to pull it out of the ditch. A little boy on the street sensing my situation went on to get help. In matter of minutes, my bike was free.
Tabo is Spiti’s pride. The late tenth century monastery is considered one of the most significant art treasures in the Tibetan Buddhist world. It is one of the earliest constructions in the great temple building movement initiated by Rinchen Zangpo, during the second diffusion of Buddhism. The mud structures looked very unimpressive from the outside. It was the exquisite paintings inside the temples that are the pride of Tabo. Unfortunately, I was told that I need permission from ASI to take pictures inside the temple.
My English friend was not happy about the fact that the room rents were sky high at Tabo. He insisted that we head to Dhankar monastery for the evening. I agreed and soon it was three of us back on the highway, except this time my pillion was an Israeli girl (My friend’s best friend whom he found in Tabo). My new pillion rider was lot more composed and better pillion than my friend. My worst nightmare came true when my bike sputtered and came to halt in middle of the highway. I was worried when I realized that my initial suspects were overruled. My English friend, with vast experience in repairing bikes could not figure out the problem either. After an hour of fidgeting around we decided that we need mechanic. My friend went ahead and sent us a taxi to pick us up. The taxi driver suggested that I leave my bike in middle of the road. He assured me that no danger would befall the bike. Reassured by his words, my friend and I got into the car to reach Dhankar. At Dhankar, a monk agreed to lend me his pickup truck to transport my bike to nearest town of Kaza the next morning.
With the deal in place, I took to dorm where my friend greeted me with some wine and food. Our conversation was interrupted by a monk who insisted that we proceed no further as the Kunzum pass was in bad condition with constant snow fall. He said it was “highway to hell”! Indeed it was.
Useful Person’s Info for Booking & Travel to Dhankar/Tabo – Anil Kumar (01906-272247). He has got a beautiful home stay at Dhankar.