Something Hidden. Go find it. Go and look behind ranges – something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go. ~Rudyard Kipling
Kunzum Pass or Kunzum La at 4950 mt ASL is a high mountain pass in Himachal Pradesh, India connecting Kullu and Lahaul Valley with Spiti Valley. It’s one of the highest motorable pass in the world that remain closed for 7-8 months in a year thus every year it exhibits its mighty importance by forcing people to foot walk the high glacier mountains to reach other side. It’s a divine place on earth surrounded by the grandeur of Himalaya which not only connects two important valleys but also signifies the confluence of two cultures i.e. Hinduism of Kullu and Lahual with Buddhism of Spiti.
One has to pass many ordeals from either side to reach this place but at the end each ordeal pays heavy dividend in the form of pristine beauty on either side of this Pass. Kunzum Top has a definitive allure which pull you towards it which I never felt anywhere ever. Goddess Kunzum is the residing deity and keeps guard over this pass. Every passerby has high reverence towards her and without paying due obeisance no one passes from here as they believe Goddess Kunzum wards off all the evil and peril of this treacherous road.
To witness the might and the beauty of Kunzum Range we started our road trip from Kaza side and it was a 70 KM journey along River Spiti – a last leg of extreme adventure high adrenaline filled with all adjectives one can think of for a road trip..It was offbeat, off-track, adventurous, Self-elevating, risky, scary, heavenly etc etc. Each turn of the road from Kaza to Kunzum brings another breathtaking awe and thus we stopped every mile to capture the expanse of visual scenery spread in all directions.
On this road while driving up steep incline, I started to believe that God of Landscaping must have started to paint the Canvas of Spiti Valley while sitting at Kunzum Top overlooking entire Spiti Valley and certainly Spiti is his most beautiful art form. With best of all his skills and knowledge he colored every inch of Spiti Valley and then he created the Kunzum Pass to guard his pristine beauty from the outside world.
After crossing sparsely populated hamlets such as Rangrik, Murang, Hull, Kyata, Losar and enjoying all around amusement recreated by nature we reached Kunzum in 4 Hours. A series of Chortens decorated with Buddhist Prayer Flags welcome us, however, I got the overwhelming kick by standing next to the Sign Board confirming our arrival to Kuzum Top. Another landmark achieved and it was invaluable.
The entire set-up is a symbol of mutual respect people of this region have for Hinduism and Buddhism as Chorten with Prayer flags resemble Buddhism but the Goddess inside the Chorten is Hindu Goddess Durga revered at Goddess Kunzum here. A gravel road off-shootong from main road encircles this Hindu Temple before merging with Main road. Local people and truckers revere this as path of good luck and insist on everyone to circumambulate the temple before going further, so we also took this path to keep lady luck on our side. Another ritual to follow here is to stick a metal coin on a statue inside the temple through the window. Success in doing so confirms you as a person with good karma and failure ask you to keep trying. I was the third person of the day who could successfully stick the coin. Woohooo..
Further, we spend 10 minutes on this pass and I could sense over joyous calm seeping deep inside my mind and filling my soul with blissful elation. This in all senses was a self-elevating experience which I never felt earlier and more so because I reached the top of the world on my hatchback and this realization doubled up the joy. But the grand presence of the Himalaya amidst the vastness of nothing all around made me feel humbled and I bowed again before the residing deity before pulling the ignition of my car.
Some More Photographs of my road trip from Kaza to Kunzum:
How to Reach Kunzum:
This can be reached only by road triping either from Manali/Keylong side or from Kaza Side.
From Manali/Keylong: Both routes from Manali and Keylong merge at Gramphu which is 60 KM from Kunzum. Manali to Kunzum is 130 KM and Keylong to Kunzuum is 110KM.
From Kaza Side: 70 KM drive from Kaza mostly along Spiti river takes you to Kunzum Pass.