is a Himalayan wild world. Look around and one will feel like he is in
heaven, with both feet still firmly on the ground. This cold desert valley
with its snowy crags, cliffs and crevices is where thrilling signs of life
abound. Its long rain-free summer is a prime time for the adventurous to
see Spiti's wildlife in motion - when the predatory snow leopards send the
herds of ibex sporting across the ridge-tops.
There are over 1,600 Buddhist tribals who live symbiotically with nature here. Conserved as a National Park since 1987, Pin Valley nestles under the snowy ramparts of the lofty Pir Panjal mountains. The tiny sun-baked local mud brick houses dot the peripheries of the park, which sweeps across a core of over 6,75-sq-km and a 1,150-sq-km buffer zone.
The jagged rocks, and other fossil-rich gravel bars make the Pin Valley a unique geological lab. Winter plays its tandava here as ferocious blizzards and snowstorms send the glaciers creaking, ravaging the valley's rugged moonscape. Its fossil-rich snowy cliffs attract travellers who prefer the austerity of the cold desert far above the timberline.
Pin valley rises in solitary splendour. At mod Pharka one is at its lowest point at 11,000 ft. One can climb up till its highest point - Pin-Parbati Jot at a sky-kissing elevation of over 18,000 ft. This point, in fact, is a glaciated pass that sends down the Pin and the Parbati rivers that, over the centuries, have carved out the Pin and Parbati valleys.
The prime tourist season is from June to October. The shepherd-beaten nature trails and inspection paths are dotted with bunkers erected by the park authorities for a halt after every 10-15-km where you can pitch your tents.
This wilderness blooms into fragrance at summer time as rare medicinal herbs, flowers and Juniper bushes sprout all over the valley.
One can enter this sanctuary of highland life at the Attargu Bridge, where the blue Pin and the grey Spiti rivers embrace each other. A rugged road that comes winding from Kaza, Spiti's headquarters and seat of the erstwhile 'Nong' Chief of Spiti, leads to 'Mikim' and 'Sangnam' villages, where you march into the Pin park. The place also provides rare sure-footed Chamurthi horses for a ride.
Three gompas, the relics of the ancient past, house bead-counting Buddhist lamas, who preach moral values of life to locals. The lamas perform spellbinding 'Cham' and 'Buchhen' dances, which are a rare treat for the eyes. 'Buchhen' is the only tantric dance in the entire Buddhist world, where local lamas perform death-defying miracles with swords and other weapons.
After peeping into the valley's Buddhist lifestyle, trekkers can choose from a host of treks that lead into Parbati valley in Kullu district and the Bhawe Valley in Kulu district and the Bhawe Valley in Kinnaur. These treks wind a cross the snowbound passes, crossed by the migratory shepherds and highland traders in the past and fast for 3 to 5 days.
Moving from point to point, one can discover the snowy radiance of the skyrocketing peaks the illuminate the valley in dazzling hues of white, grey, green and golden yellow, with the rising sun. It is a brilliant biosphere of dry alpine scrub jungles snow, sun and sand.
Rare species like the Snow Leopards, Red Fox, Marten, Weasel, Pika, Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagle, Lynx and Tibetan Wolf roam in the park. In summer, these man shy creatures hide themselves in the higher cliffs, while in winter they come down to the valley's villages, where they are not disturbed by the non-violent locals.
Up in the valleys core area marvel at the sight of the glacier lilies and other flowers that bloom alongside the melting waters. The Snow Leopard turns vegetarian, eating rare shrubs like Salix and Myricaria, particularly during winter, when the prey species are difficult to prowl on.
Pin valley promises lingering pictures of starkness and rugged beauty of the Himalayan cold desert. Of nature's secrets that can never be unlocked but can be seen and felt!