Why you should travel – reasons to travel to Spiti valley and elsewhere

‘Twenty years from now you will be more dissapointed by the things you didnt do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’ – Mark Twain
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Travel to learn a new perspective – Instead of hanging around with the same friends, talking about the same things day in day out, during your travel you will meet people with a different and alternate way of thinking and a fresh take on life which could make you see things differently. Your travel will make you unlearn a lot of things so that you can learn new things. Learn to be kind, to see kindness in others, to love, to get love from others. Travel to learn that you can be wrong and that you know less that you thought.
Step out of your comfort zone – At home or work we are set into a routine. From the moment we wake up to when we sleep, it is the same well rehearsed routine again and again. While traveling you will be forced to do things for the first time, take decisions you would not otherwise take, go to places you may not have otherwise and trust people you may not otherwise.
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Makes you see the good in people – Media tells us that the world is unsafe, poor people would rob you, people of a certain religion may detest you etc etc. Everyone is bad and to harm you. During your travel you will be surprised with the generosity and hospitality that people of different races, ethnicity and religion might show in you, help you, feed you and be curious to hear your story. You’ll realize that our true nature is to be happy and help others. That we are all the same and mean only good.
You’ll come back with lots of stories – As long as you travel with an open mind, be willing to meet and talk to strangers you would come back with lots of stories and experience to share.
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Gain  self-confidence  After having spent time by yourself, doing things you otherwise thought were not possible for you to do, confidence you would get would be permanent.
You learn new languages -There’s a big thrill in hearing a language you didn’t know existed and learning new words.
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Grow as a person – Its true than when you travel life is fast forwarded. In six month or one year of travel you would see and learn more things than you would in twice the amount of time spent on work or continuing with the life you were leading before.DSC4848
Travel is the best education – There is no denying that the world is the best classroom.
Travel to get inspired – Listen to people’s stories, experience people living their lives different to your’s. Experience that anything is possible and there is no fixed right or wrong.
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Travel to feel alive – While traveling you will enjoy simple pleasures of life and to bring a renewed interest in life.
Travel makes you humble – The more you learn you realize the less you know. Travel puts you in situations which make you realize that the world is bigger than your perspective on it.
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Travel proves that dreams can come true and to continue dreaming
Travel to get a sense of adventure and freedom
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And lastly, travel so that your dance moves can be shown to the world
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Inspiring stories from Spiti

Karma Yoga

Karma and Soni from Pin village believe that their duty in this life is to help others. ‘People do not have time for the elders and the old people are lonely. We want to keep them busy and healthy.  By staying together they have company of one another and do not feel lonely. We want to create a community of old people so that the young can learn from them and listen to their stories. They should not be forgotten or made to suffer during their old age, ’ says Soni.

In  winter Soni and Karma take the elders from Pin valley to Rewalsar near Mandi where they are more comfortable.

In Rewalsar they keep themselves busy by taking koras of the lake and visiting the monastery. Soni and Karma rely on donations and you can meet them in Sagnam (Pin valley) to know more about their project. They are open to new ideas and welcome volunteers. They have plans to start a homestay to fund their project.

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The enlightened monk

Lama Gobind has been living in different retreats in upper Kinnaur for over fifteen years spending about years years at a time in a retreat. Having studied in Chandigarh lama Gobind gave up the worldly life and went to his first retreat in Malling, near Nako.

Believed to be a reincarnated Tulku, he says, ‘When I see others I feel we are all the same – inside and outside. Because of my meditation people think I am special. Meditation has made me  compassionate and when I touch/bless others I feel I am sharing my compassion.’ ‘In meditation there are many hurdles and these obstacles help us. It is possible for everyone to attain realization if we work at it’. ‘We talk about the mind but we cannot show the mind. For that we have to try the Dharma way. Millarepa way is of mantryanna – of mantras. It is very easy to say that god is like this or that. But to feel  and experience god  you need to practice meditation.’ ‘I have no connection with the body.  I am not scared of death, this is a big achievement for me.’ ‘ If you control the mind then everything is possible’.

His mother says that at the time of his birth two or three lamas possibly from Ladakh came looking for a boy who was supposed to be the reincarnation of their guru. HOwever at that time there was a shortage of boys in their family she lied to the visiting lamas and said that no boy was born in her house.

Currently lama gobind lives in Pooh in Kinnaur

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Helping the old and young

Norbu and Nawang are the driving force behind the Kachen Dugyal Memorial girl’s hostel and old age home in Spiti. From administration and funding, to the daily running of the project, Norbu and Nawang’s selfless work has positively impacted lives of girls within their community.

‘We hope our work inspires others to think about those who need our help’, says Nawang. The old age home takes care of the neglected and poor from the local community and the girls hostel provides an opportunity for girls to finish their high school who otherwise would not be able do so because of financial reasons. There are about forty elders staying in the old age home and between ten to fifteen girls every year who benefit from the hostel.

Michael joined the two in 2011 by teaching computers at the hostel. He brings in money from Canada from his family and friends and also puts in his own. Because of the scholarships that Michael provides the girls from Spiti get an opportunity to pursue college in Shimla and Kangra. He also employs them when needed for his archaeological work.

Michael and Norbu are also responsible for Spiti’s first museum. For the last 4 years both of them have been exploring Spiti for petroglyphs (rock art) which has helped local people better understand their own history. This project is funded from their own money and has broken lots of myths associated with the area.

You can meet the 3 of them at the Girls hostel in Kaza to understand more about their work.

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The 100 year old nun

Evi Pomo has been living a solitary life in the cave at Gangchumik for more than 35 years. She moved to the cave after the death of her husband . In 2016 Evi was said to have turned 100 years. When her husband was alive she had a strong desire for spiritual practice though she continued performing her household duties. After the death of her husband Evi gave her land away to her family and to the villagers of Pooh , retaining only a fraction of it. Nuns from different nunneries take care of Evi and her needs. She spends most of her time in meditation and sometimes meets devotees as well.

Evi Pomo believes that by leading a solitary life the mind is drawn inwards and made quiet by the repetition of mantras while by living amongst people the mind is drawn outwards and towards materialistic things. In 2016 Evi’s health deteriorated and she now lives in Pooh village where the villagers take care of her.

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Differences between a tourist and a traveler

Tourists take more selfies

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Tourists require their backpack to be taken to their room

Tourists expect room service everywhere

Tourists ask for their car to be cleaned by the hotel staff

Tourists usually have fixed itineraries

Tourists travel in big groups

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Tourists travel with far too much luggage

Tourists are more interested in seeing landmarks rather than talking to the locals

Tourists expect an attached bathroom in a campsite