Leh is getting more and more mainstream. Earlier you could find accommodation at the first camp site near Pangong Tso, but one has to now go extra 7kms to Spangmik Village to find the night accommodation. Each year there are more tourists and the number of accommodations is sprawling too soon. Once you turn away your sight from the beauty of Pangong Tso, all you see is a city intimidating you with all features and luxuries one will not expect at the world’s highest salt water lake.
That is why, we chose the road less taken… The road that turns left from Koksar towards Spiti valley does not look anything like a National Highway. It is full of challenges, adventure, risk and yet breathtaking landscapes. If you have covered the Jammu to Leh stretch covering the mud mountains, lunar landscapes, magnetic hill etc, you cannot expect Spiti valley to surprise you, yet it enchants you.
Our intention was to have evening tea at the highest village in Asia, Kibber Village and we crossed all the hurdles with a smile. It was only at Keh Monastery, we realised that the road to Komic Village has been built and the highest village tag has moved. The issue with tags of the highest, longest and brightest is that they can always be challenged. Unfazed, we changed our direction and set course towards Komic which was 21kms farther and much higher than the erstwhile highest village, Kibber. Not sure of what to expect, we were greeted by a narrow tar-less road uphill and a lot of dust, enough to change the colour of everything it touched. As we escalated up, the landscape kept getting more appealing and colourful. At last, we reached Komic village, the signage read a height of 4587 meters and a village population of 114 inhabitants. There was still no sign assuring of the highest-village-in-Asia claim. It was only after exchanging words with the indigenous lamas that the title was confirmed and we swell our chests with pride. Komic Village has a total of dozen odd houses and a 14th century old monastery which is the abode of Lamas. Most of the lamas keep shuffling between the Komic and Kaza as Kaza is the activity hub.
Komic means Snow Cock Eye. There are legendary stories associated to the village as robbers trying to steal the main deity but were unable to lift it after a point as it kept getting heavier, hidden treasures such as egg of the dragon, horn of a unicorn etc. Even the carving shapes of some stones will yell of delight. The earthquake in 1975 shattered the whole place around yet the deity statue at Komic held its place.
With one look around at the settling Sun flickering over the Kaza mountain range, the thought of having tea at Asia’s highest village soon turned into the will to have dinner. We requested the head lama to let us stay the night and we were offered a room. We will never be able to forget the delicious vegetable rice ‘pulao’ that the lama cooked up for us learning that we were hungry. We also gorged over vegetable ‘thenthuk’ for dinner. Well for tea, we are not sure how much we consumed as it tasted better than any other elixir in the world.
The village remains cut from civilization for 5-6 months in a year due to snow and no roads. The villagers are hospitable and are undaunted by lack of infrastructure or public services, we cannot live without. The trip to Komic is an essential escape for city dwellers to connect to the Lama life, to view landscapes and mountain ranges at the same height as yours and more so to understand the true meaning of minimalism which cannot be taught better by anyone but the inhabitants of Komic village.