Lari, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India, 10 July 2017, 1215 hours
The trouble with a drive is that even with a lot of time on your hands, you are still focused on getting to a destination … and so, you end up giving a miss to mesmerising little hamlets along the way – like Lari village on the way to Tabo.
I wonder where I would have been if all the opportunities and teachers and great people I have met in life, had just driven by and given me a miss. Hmm?
Then again, maybe I would have been sitting under a tree watching a flock graze as the breeze did its own thing, and raise an eyebrow at the occasional car driving by. Maybe I would have been sitting in that field I am passing right now, and maybe I would have been watching a car like this with people from the city enjoy the stunning landscape and wave at me.
That would have been nice. And this is something that I think of every time I spend time in the Himalayas. That it is a very good thing that these places are so remote that people think several times before coming on over. Because if this land comes onto a regular tourist map, everything would change, and it would be a real pity if all of us could just take a limousine bus or drive our own SUVs into the Himalayas. Trust me I know what I am talking about – several city vehicles from the plains down below have passed us by in the past few days, and they are all in a tearing hurry, honking their way through in a land where the local people drive with the utmost respect, spotting vehicles from three mountain-turns away, stopping at places where they know vehicles can pass, smiling and catching up on road conditions, and then moving on slowly carefully once again.
Yep, in my limited viewpoint, it is best that sleepy hamlets stay sleepy … God, this land is really beautiful. And even driving through at a lazy pace gives you so much time to ponder existential and civil matters.
You know what’s funny? At some point in time, Lari is said to have been fairly important around these parts. That’s before Tabo came into prominence, so that would be before the 10th century, and definitely before Tibetan Buddhism (based on Indian Mahayana Buddhism) started spreading in this region. Back then, nature-based animistic religions held sway in these parts (I believe researchers call it Bon religion).
Lari is significant today for the Chhumurthi (pronounced Chamurthi) Horse Breeding Farm, which is a part of a government initiative to protect and conserve Spiti Ponies in Himachal Pradesh. But that’s a story for a different day.