Nestled between the mountains in a bowl shaped area in the Spiti Valley is a small remote village named Langza. This village is situated at an altitude of 14,500 feet above sea level in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh in northern India.
Langza is also considered to be one of the highest villages in the world with a motorable road. Owing to its proximity to Tibet in China, the population of the village is predominantly Buddhist and belongs to the Sakyapa sect of Tibetian Buddhism. The village has a population of about 137 people living in 33 houses.
Langza is divided into two sections; Langza Yongma (Lower) and Langza Gongma (Upper). The main occupation of the villagers in the olden days was mud craft. This art prevails in the village to this day. Vessels of all shapes and sizes are produced and sold all across the country. Agriculture is another major occupation in this village. Crops such as rice and potatoes are cultivated here.
At the first glance of the village, one will instantly notice a huge Golden coloured Buddha statue which is believed to be around 1000 years old. All the houses in the village are built below this statue. The houses are made of mud and have prayer flags tied around them. As the tourism in this region has increased in the past few years, more and more houses have turned into home stays providing the travellers with accommodation and food options.
There is no other kind of accommodations available in the village yet. The rooms at the home stays are quite basic and have only beds and blankets. The washrooms are generally located right outside the house which is nothing more than a hole in the open covered with walls on four sides. Inside the rooms, one can also spot the mud crafted vessels and fossils neatly placed for display and for sale.
The food at these home stays are very basic and comprises of local food such as rice, chapati, dal and mix vegetables. The locals of Langza are very welcoming and willing to share their homes to accommodate the needs of the travellers. To experience the authentic village life of Langza it is highly recommended to spend a night at this village.
The main attraction at Langza is to collect fossils and to visit the monastery. Fossils of marine creatures and plants are found in plenty under the sedimentary rocks. These fossils are around millions of years old. Although possession and collection of fossils are illegal in India, the locals in the village sell these collectibles to the travellers visiting their village.
Young kids can be seen running around the village collecting and playing with these fossils trying to persuade the travellers to buy them in return for money. The local name of fossil here is ‘chaudua’ and can be easily found in and around the village. The fossils are Cephalopoda.
A visit to Langza is not complete without fossil hunting, the easiest way to find these fossils are to go higher around the mountains in Langza and to look for them under the rocks.
There are also two high altitude lakes around Langza namely Tsonyeti and Chumo Tso. These lakes are around 3-4 hour hikes from the village which could be difficult for travellers, owing to the low oxygen and high altitude of the region.
Langza being located at a high altitude, one can spot many endangered species such as snow leopards, Tibetan wolf, Himalayan griffon, etc around the village during the winter months of December and January. While walking around the village at any given time of the year one will see yaks and sheep roaming freely in herds or with the shepherds. The yaks plough the fertile fields which is refreshingly different.
Snow capped mountains around the village also add to the beauty of the village. Kaza is the district headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti which is around 16km away from Langza by road. All the basic necessities for the village are transported from Kaza. The nearest medical centre is also located at Kaza. To reach Langza one can take a bus from New delhi or Manali to Kaza and then hire a private or sharing vehicle to reach Langza.
Twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the government buses ply from Kaza to Langza and back. The best time to visit Langza is during the summer months of July to September. Although the village is open to tourists throughout the year, during winters the roads leading to the village are generally closed due to heavy snow fall. To reach Langza during winters one will have to either hitch a ride to the village or hike up 10km from Kaza. To explore Langza a day or two is sufficient enough.
If you have interest in archaeology then a visit to Langza is a must as there is endless excavation possibility.