The Folk Tales of Spiti Valley – Gods & The Prophecies

by Sayantan

If you are here, then I believe you have already read My Blog on traveling through Spiti Valley. In this particular post, I will be talking about the strange folk tales of Spiti Valley; about of the gods and the prophecies related.

The Monk of Giu

Long long ago, Giu was a prosperous village. It’s prosperity came from its strategic location; it was an important trading village along the Silk route. The traders with their beasts of burden; carrying silk and other things from China to India used to rest in this Alpine village. But, good days do not remain always. Newer and less hazardous routes were discovered for trade; and Giu gradually lost its importance.

With less frequent traders, lesser amount of money trickled in. To add more misery, the snow was less in one of the years. As a result, an infestation of locusts spread throughout the village and killed the crops. Out of hunger, the locals came weeping to the monk in the local monastery. Seeing the plight of the villagers, the monk assured them he will fast and pray to God; so that the woes of the villagers is forever gone. And so the monk prayed and fasted till death.

The Gods, being moved by the devotion of the monk, answered his prayers and brought rain to the parched fields. A rainbow appeared, signalling that Gods have kept his promise. The villagers mummified the mortal remains of the monk and kept it in a monastery. Till today, people visit the “Mummy Monk” and thus full filling the prophecy ”Thou village shall never be forgotten”.

The Fortress of Dhankar Monastery

Dhankar monastery was built like a watch tower or fortress on the edge of the cliff; overlooking the Spiti and Pin valley. It’s name signifies it with “Dhang” meaning cliff, and Kar meaning monastery). It is the oldest Gompa of Spiti region (a claim contested by Tabo monastery). Just above the monastery, is the ruins of the palace of the Nono Kings, who ruled Spiti in the 12th to 17th century.

Lhalung Monastery – The Tree that Never Dies

Lha means God, lung means land. So Lhalung actually means the land of the Gods. This small village is surrounded by the Tangmar mountains on one side, and the river Lingti on the other. The villagers regard Tangmar as The supreme God; the one who turns red when angry, and yellow when pleased. So long time back (10th century approximately); in order to please the God,the villagers decided to built a monastery.

They requested Rinchen Zangpo, Mahaguru and the disciple of Atisa Dipankar, to select a holy site for the same. The learned one gave the villagers a few twigs of Seabuckthron tree and told them to plant those at different sites of the village. Next day only one of those dead twigs bore a new green leaf. Rinchen proclaimed that place as holy, and miraculously next day a monastery appeared there. People believe that the Tree is blessed and it never dies. The Lhalung monastery is also known as the Golden Pagoda, because the interiors are gilted with gold.

Komik – The Prophecy

Long ago, the learned men made a prophecy that there would be a Gompa in Komik. The land on which the Gompa was to built would be like the eye of a snow cock; surrounded by mountains. The right hand mountain would look like a snow lion, and the left hand one like a headless eagle. Four mountain streams would be found near the Gompa. Hence it is named Komik; Ko meaning Snow cock, and Mik meaning Eye.

The Folk Tales of Spiti Valley

These were some of the interesting folk tales of Spiti Valley that I learned during my travel there. For a detailed version of my trip, read my travelogue at Spiti Valley – The Land of The Gods. If you know of any other folklore apart from the ones I listed, or know of more details on the ones mentioned; then please feel free to comment and add.


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