Every place in the world is a spot on the map. Geography is built around these. But beyond the trivia, every place has its own beauty and legends that make it so unique and worth visiting. Like this one that talks of diesel and petrol...
Where is the world’s highest petrol/diesel outlet located?
Well, yes! This is a question straight out of a geography quiz. And I am sure not many of us would know the correct answer…
It’s Kaza, very much in Indian territory.
Moving beyond the trivia…
Piched high above the sea level at 3800 meters, on the left bank of the river Spiti lies the town of Kaza. It serves as the sub-divisional headquarters of the remote Spiti valley in the Western Himalayas. Spiti, which is a part of the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal, is a high altitude desert having close similarities to the neighbouring Tibet and Ladakh regions in terms of terrain, climate and the Buddhist culture. Kaza is the largest settlement and commercial center of the valley.
Translated, 'Spiti' means the 'middle country' - a name obviously given as a result of its ties with both India and Tibet. One of the greatest novelists of all time, Rudyard Kipling, referred to this place as a ‘world within a world” and a "place where the gods live" - a description that holds true to the present day.
ClimateThe weather, as expected, is chilly throughout the year. This region hardly receives any monsoon showers. In winters, sometimes the temperature falls even below the freezing point. Heavy woolens must be worn here to shield oneself from the cold waves.
AccessKaza is surrounded by high mountain ridges on all sides. It is accessible from two points : one from Kinnaur valley and the other from the Lahaul valley. The path 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 Reckong Peo, 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 and the 14,928-foot (4,550 m) high Kunzum pass, enters the Spiti valley to reach Kaza. It remains closed during winter months due to heavy snowfall on both the passes. The nearest airport is at Kullu (250km)
TourismThe township of Kaza is divided into the old and new sections. The new town contains the administrative buildings. However, the most popular structure in Kaza is the Tangyud Gompa which dates back to the early 14th century. This monastery is built like a fortified castle with massive slanted mud walls and battlements with vertical red ochre and white vertical stripes. A traditional fair, Ladarcha, is celebrated here every year in the month of August. What attracts hordes of tourists to Kaza is its central location and its connectivity with the rest of the valley. It is also a hub for adventure seekers who come here in search of adrenaline-pumping dares. However, mountaineering and trekking are clear favourites amongst the visitors.
Plan a visit to this hill town not for the sake of the trivia, but for the sake of the beautiful, mesmerising town that Kaza is!