Keylong

Posted: August 30, 2012 by randommuzings in India
Tags: , , , , , ,

Keylong (altitude: 3350m), the capital of Lahaul, is such a small town that on reaching there we wondered as to what will we be doing there for the next couple of days. In comparison even Leh seemed much larger. It is mostly a transit city, where tourists usually halt for a night or two, enroute to Leh or Spiti or Manali. Even the vegetation here (mostly shrubs) is transitioning from the lush green pine forests of Manali to dry arid vegetation of Leh or Spiti. Agriculturally it houses the crops of peas, hops (for beer), potatoes and barley.

For us as well, Keylong was not meant to be the final destination. When we reached Keylong, our first reaction was that we will head out to Kaza after a day but we just couldn’t part from Keylong, mainly because of the people.

In Himanchal, I usually always bank upon the guest houses provided by state government. At Keylong also I chose to stay at Himachal Tourism (HT) bungalow- a colossal property at the highest point of the town. It was named “Chandra Bhaga Resort”, after the local name of Chenab here. I later learnt that the land for this property was acquired in 1992 for the construction of a Heli-ski resort as per a pact between Indian government and USSR but then USSR dissolved and the pact never saw the light of the day. So finally in 2002 the resort as it stands today was constructed long with the adjoining circuit house for a staggering figure of about INR 4 crores (only construction cost). The room rent here is INR 2,000, which seems high for the region but on staying there you realize that you get every penny’s worth including breakfast and dinner. The ground space facing the resort that as per the original plan had been reserved for a helipad, now houses tents that have been shifted here from Sarchu. The HT Volovo buses from Manali to Leh include an overnight stay at Keylong in those luxury tents (within a price of Rs 2000).

Thus every night a loaded bus arrives, carrying 41 travelers. Each night there is a lot of activity- eating, drinking, gossiping but early morning at 4 am the bus would depart and then the place would be shrouded in complete silence. Soon each of the hotel staff was like a family member and along with them we also sub-consciously waited for the night bus to arrive and heard them depart every morning.

We reached there on 16th Aug and on the occasion of Independence Day there was a two-days fair wherein people had come down from Manali and set up stalls for food and clothing. There was a cultural program where people from all adjoining districts were singing and dancing and the program went on till 10.30 pm that is beyond midnight in the hills. I was tempted to go down and watch but there was no light in the town at all and we were not carrying any torches. So we stayed at the hotel, chatting with the passengers of the bus that had just arrived. We were enjoying our freedom and they were enjoying theirs!!

I later sat on the porch of the hotel staring at the night sky. I haven’t seen so many stars in my entire life, not in Leh, not even on the screen at Nehru Planetarium. There were so stars in every corner of the sky that to a city dweller like me it appeared artificial. Too bad that I did not have the remote shutter control to capture it on my camera but of course some experiences are only for the mind to remember!!  I just lay there for eternity, staring at the sky, capturing the image in my mind!!

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