Diary

The Caves at Shialkhar

July 16, 2016.

After #Chango we crossed a bridge over the #Spiti and then took a wide turn to the right, intending to drive straight through to #Sumdo since we were keen to get #Tabo after a planned detour. But then, I looked up and saw a series of caves sort of suspended above us as we sped past.

Shialkhar Caves 01

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 02

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

I hollered, Parvinder braked gently, the Xylo came to a halt, I got out and ran back and started climbing. First upright on my feet, then with the support of my hands, and then again upright. I was up to the caves in 10 minutes and I stood there looking down at the road and the river and the mountains across, catching my breath and imagining what it must have been like hundreds of years ago (maybe thousands) when people may have lived in these caves.

There was a series of caves with the largest towards the left, a set of smaller caves in the middle and then another slightly larger one on the right. The mountain is gravel, pebbles, grey soil, dust, and rock – you have to watch your step and tread carefully and confidently to stay upright.

The caves are dug into the mountain, and have enough space for living, sleeping two maybe three in the smaller caves, and five to six in the bigger ones. The local people seem to be using the caves for storing grass and hay for their animals. Some of the caves have a door and locks.

Shialkhar Caves 03

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 04

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 05

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 09

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 10

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 08

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 07

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

Shialkhar Caves 06

Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

It was an exciting climb and ‘discovery’ but I couldn’t get any accurate or concrete information on how old the caves might be or if there was any known history.

Parvinder was aware of the caves since he has travelled this way several times but didn’t know much about them nor had he stopped here before. And for once, The Wayfarer and Kaushal were also hunting information.

I made a note (to myself) to return to Shialkhar and see if I could find some tales and information from the sarpanch and other members of the village.

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