Onwards to Spiti "At last they entered a world within a world - a valley of leagues, where the high hills were fashioned out of mere rubble and refuse from off the knees of the mountains - surely the Gods live here - this place is no place for men" - Rudyard Kipling on Spiti in Kim In Kipling's days, Spiti was probably barren and remote. Now its a magnet for BCMT members, bikers of every sort, and a whole host of other travellers ! Yes there are lots of us, but in many places it can evoke the charm which captivated Kipling. Yes, Spiti is magic. Whether you just do the tried and tested circuit or trek from Kibber to Tso Moriri, everywhere it is magic. So, when I can sample the magic without the ardousness of a trek, why not. I did only the standard route. After all I am a "senior" BCMTian, in age if not in badge ! The once dreaded Malling nallah has been tamed. Just like the roaring rivers of India, which in recent times have been reduced to a trickle, so too Malling nallah. First port of call, Gue, of course. But no mummy photo; let he be undisturbed. This is better ! (see the mummy, sure, but also look at this) Tabo Most travelers to Tabo skip staying here , dash in and out of the monastery and move on to Kaza. I didn’t know Tabo would be so pretty, and when I saw its charm, decided to tarry. What an excellent choice it turned out to be. (a really charming place) The Tabo Monastery is lovely, of course. It is the oldest monastery in the region. It was set up by a Buddhist King Yeshe O'd in 996 AD. It has been renovated multiple times, the last of which has led to a new monastery. Splendid wall paintings decorate the walls. The morning prayer session at the Tabo monastery is at 6.00 AM. I got up at 5.30 AM in sub zero temperatures to go there. Today it was an individual prayer session and not the group chanting that is often more absorbing to the layman. As it’s a monastery, there are basically young (very) monks and a few old supervisors. It's an experience in the cold sun to listen to the chants of the Manjushri Mantra - Om Ah Ra Pas Tsa Na Dhi Dhi Dhi Dhi Dhi ...... (the morning prayers) (better to bask in the sun and chant than be cooped up inside) Boys will be boys everywhere. The littler ones tried their best to play truant or gossip, leading to constant reprimands from the master. A few teenage monks however recited with obvious fervor. I don’t think its a good idea to push boys as young as 7 or 8 into a monastery, but then who am I to judge.