Previous day we had been to Kibber (4300m/14200ft) twice, in morning as well in the evening. Purpose was to send a letter from Kibber post office. We had the impression that world’s highest altitude operational post office is in Kibber. We were disappointed to see the post office closed. So next day we went to Kaza post office to inquire about the timings and if possible send a letter from Kaza post office with stamp of Kibber, outrageously lazy idea. Upon inquiry we came to know that Kibber is now second to Hikkim. We asked for the directions and changed our plan to visit Hikkim. Very seldom we have opposite thoughts when it comes to travel.
On the way we spotted a vehicle going in same direction and assuming that the only place the road could go was Hikkim, we decided to follow that vehicle. We stopped in front of big Buddha statue. There we had chat with those people who provided us the complete orientation of the nearby villages. We were in Langza (4400m/24500ft) village. Those people were going to Komik (4587m/15050ft), highest altitude village in Asia inhabited throughout the year. At the back of his mind we had heard about the Monastery in Komik being one of the five major monasteries in Spiti. Earlier on the way, we also met with a biker who said that the road to Hikkim was blocked by ice. Since Hikkim was on the way to Komik, we decided to follow those people to Komik and then go to Hikkim. Since they were locals and knew the conditions well, that could be good help if required.
On one turn we saw that the road was covered with thick ice. The car ahead (Innova) wobbled as it went past that ice. We applied breaks in apprehension and stopped right over that ice block. Our car started to slide down the road over the ice. To say the least, it was SCARY! We had no clue what to do as our car was on big ice skate board. The Innova ahead stopped and people ran toward us. Fortunately the car didn’t go down the side of the road and we all managed to push it below the ice block. How to cross this hurdle? One simple solution was to turn around and go back. \
The next thing that we decided is perhaps the reason we both have been travelling together since last couple of years across the country. We both were on agreement that we have to cross this block and go ahead. So we asked the people if they can help us drive our car though this block. And one of them actually took the wheel and zoom passed the block. Remaining of us was trying to cover the ice block with the mud to get some hold on ice. After that, apart from few risky ice turns there was no major hurdle till we reached Komik.
While visiting the monastery at Komik, we realized that the man who drove our car over the ice block was explaining the people about the monastery. We also asked few questions and he did provide the answers to us. After coming out, we got hold of him to start the conversation. He was training those people about the information on monastery paintings so that they could act as guide when the next season starts in July. He also belonged to an organization working to harvest the solar energy for cooking and heating the monastery and houses in Kaza during winter. It as he who initiated and started the system of home stays in Kaza. He was like an encyclopedia on Kaza! We interacted with him and got the information about the significance of Komik monastery (old and new), Kaza’s culture & tourism, life in winter, surrounding villages (Langza, Hikkim, Tashigang, Chicham, Demul) and many more things. This is one of the biggest advantage of the off season travel. You can spend time even with the busiest people of the area.
We spent couple of hours with him before leaving to our original destination of Hikkim, en route our way back to Kaza, for our much awaited purpose.
For more information on Hikkim refer Wiki