I’ve been a fan of the fecund pastures of Pattan Valley for a long time. I have ogled at them every time I passed through it to reach the likes of Killar from Keylong. However, I always felt that Pattan Valley deserved more time and coverage. So, this time I got to Keylong with Shubham, initially planning for a repeat of Pangi. But we gave up on that due to various reasons and eventually decided to venture into Pattan and reached the Keylong bus stand in the morning having spent the previous day loitering around Keylong.
I’ve always loved this part of travel in Himachal. Arriving at an HRTC bus stand without a fixed plan, checking the timetable, surveying the oyster that is my world, fantasizing about multiple options, and then finally choosing a place. That day, we took a Udaipur-bound bus but booked tickets only till Jahalman. We passed through the usual landscapes of the valley and reached Jahalma in a couple of hours. We had some intel that there’s at least a homestay or two in this place and we duly found one. We noticed a signboard and found the lady of the house too. We settled for a room for INR 500 per head (including food). Gone are the days of 300 per day!!!
Anyway, we asked her to give us whatever she had cooked for the family and we quickly got some rajma chawal. She also promised to get local liquor for the dinner (that she brewed herself). It was around noon and it was a long summer day. So, we still had a lot of time. So, she suggested we visit Othang and come back before dark. Now, as I have mentioned in some previous posts, I was still battling with fitness issues around that time, which started due to the long period of inactivity and personal problems during the lockdowns. Till the previous day I was even struggling to walk, however, that day I was finally beginning to feel fitter. I was hesitant about the hike but decided to continue.
We started through the backyard of the homestay and came across some classic Lahauli vegetation including willows and blue pines apart from cauliflowers, cabbages, broccoli, lettuces, etc which are the main cash crops here. After 10 minutes, we reached the main trail which was going higher up. I saw the gompa at the hilltop, which looked far away, and to be honest, I was still doubtful. Nevertheless, the hike continued. As we gradually gained altitude, the classic view of Pattan Valley and Chandrabhaga river became clearer with every step and we clicked to our heart’s content.
We noticed that this area is full of roses, probably rosa webbiana. These roses had given me one of my most cherished frames, the Serpent and the Roses photograph from Shashur Gompa back in 2016. After more than an hour of hike we suddenly reached a motorable road. This is when we realized that the trek was actually optional! There’s a longer but motorable road right to the gompa and there is even a bus to Othang although no one could tell us the exact timing.
Anyway, it was good to be ignorant as I had challenged myself for the trek and finally began to feel normal. We didn’t care about the road and kept going up through the steeper hiking trail that kept giving us more and more roses. Eventually, after two and half hours, we reached the village of Othang with its picturesque houses and locals working on the limited space to plant peas. The monastery also became visible although it was further up.
We got to the monastery and soon found the head Lama of the gompa and started chatting with him. We found out that he is actually from Zanskar, which is hardly a surprise because I have found people from Zanskar in a place as far as Lhagyala Gompa in Arunachal! He informed us that the new shiny Gompa is not very old, and we got a tour of the interiors too. But he also showed the nearby smaller house, which was actually the old Gompa. Peas were flowering even in the land of the Gompa along with some delightful lupines.
We spent an hour out there at the gompa. We also talked to the Lama ji about Zanskar. He informed us that the new road has made life easier and he himself drives his car to his village via Darcha Padum road. Eventually, we left and returned to Jahalman. The descent was much easier and we were back in slightly more than an hour. Miraculously most of my troubles also had disappeared and I didn’t get any muscle ache next day maybe due to the blessings of the Gompa or because of the drink served at the homestay that night.
What and where exactly is Pattan Valley?
Pattan Valley is one of the three main components of Lahaul region. It roughly includes the area between Tandi (Tandi) to Udaipur along the Chandrabhaga.
Read more in the detailed Lahaul Guide.
Origin of the name Pattan Valley?
There are different stories about the odd name. None of them are verified though. I found this story in ram Nath Sahni’s book Lahoul: Mystery Land in the Himalayas. As per this story the settlers where were from Jammu, and were part of Zorawar Singh’s army that attacked Tibet. After his fall, they run away and came here but they were originally from Pattan in Jammu and so named this place so. Another more simplistic explanation is that Pattan means Flat Land in and this area is comparatively flatter than neighboring valleys.
How to reach Pattan Valley?
How can get buses from Malai or Keylong to various parts of Patttan. Keylong will have more options. Read this post for a .ore detailed guide and bus timings of Lahaul. Some major points are located on the main road and you’ll get them as you travel from Tandi to Udaipur. However, a few of them will require some detours.
Where to stay in Pattan Valley?
Various villages have Homestays while one village now has a backpackers hostel by a big national chain. Major places to stay include Jahalma, Rashil, Trilokinath, and Udaipur.
What to see in Pattan Valley?
Pattan Valley still remains barely explored. You can enjoy the picturesque villages, go for small local hikes, or even go for multi-day hardcore treks. The most famous major trek here is basically a pilgrimage to the Neelkanth Lake Trek via Naingahar. Other small detours include picturesque villages like Jahalman, Rashil, Lote, Thirot, Zobrang etc. Jahalma to Othang Gompa as I have described above is a pleasant day hike with excellent views. The valley ends with Udaipur, which is famous for the Mrikula Devi Temple. Then there is of course the Trilokinath Temple in Tunde which is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists and one of the most important temples in Himachal. This is also the gateway to Miyar Valley as well as Pangi Valley and there are more serious treks that connect it to Zanskar and Chamba.
Phone and Data Connectivity in Pattan Valley?
Phone and Data Connectivity is pretty developed nowadays along the highway in the main villages. It may be difficult if you go deeper and trek into more remote areas.