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Komic: Visit one of the highest motorable villages in the world

Komic monastery also known as the Tnagyud Monastery has the honor of being one of the world’s highest motorable monastery at 4587m overlooking the Komic village and mountain peaks. There are a few stories behind the existence of this monastery and they go like this:-

As per the sacred ‘Gum Maro’ (Red Box) kept in the monastery, it was foretold in Tibet that a monastery would be built in Spiti in the backdrop of a mountain with the shape of a snow lion on the left and a beheaded eagle on the right-hand side with 4 springs in the vicinity. The area in between these mountains was to be in the shape of the eye of a snow cock, which was foretold as the exact location where the Monastery would be built. On the basis of this, the area was to be named Komic (‘Ko’– Snow Cock, ‘Mic’– Eye). The monastery is known as the Komic Lundup Tsemo Gompa and dates to the early 14th century built like a fortified castle with massive slanted mud walls and battlements with vertical red ochre and white vertical stripes.

Due to a drought, the monks of Komic decided to shift the Komic monastery to the nearby, relatively lower-lying village of Hikkim. The Mahakal statue, believed to symbolize the Protector of Dharma, however, refused to move from its foundation in the ground of Komic, despite numerous chipping and lifting efforts by the monks. When the entire monastery moved to Hikkim, the statue remained adamant at Komic, together with one monk who would continue to pray before it. In 1975 or earlier, an earthquake rocked the high altitude villages of Spiti, reducing the Hikkim monastery to ruins, still visible atop a small hill. The Mahakala statue in Komic held its ground even amid the devastating tremors. Convinced that Komic was the holiest place for a monastery, the monks decided to move back to Komic, where the monastery stands to this day. Females are not allowed in the section where the statue of Mahakala is kept.

Legend has it that many hundreds of years ago, robbers tried to steal the main deity from the Komic Gompa. The deity although not more than 3 feet in height became so heavy once taken out from the gompa, that the robbers had to abandoned the deity and it was brought back to the gompa. It remains here till this date in the old prayer hall.

The gompa also has some hidden treasures which due to security reasons are made public once every 60 years. These are the egg of a dragon, the horn of a unicorn, the upper tooth of a sheep, the ribcage of a giant demon and the tail of a prehistoric man. The monastery is part of the Sakya sect of Buddhism. The Sakya Monastery in Kaza is part of the Komic Monastery and was built many years after Komic.

In Komic, there are only about a dozen houses with the total population being between 50-60 people. Other than this, there are the Lamas staying at the monastery throughout the year. The most interesting part is to imagine people living at such an altitude where mobile phones don’t work, the climate is harsh, there is no source of basic amenities and the village is completely cut- off from the rest of the world during the winters due to snow from November to March. The winter characterizes harsh winds and heavy snow where temperatures fall to -30 degrees Celcius. Oxygen levels are low due to the high altitude and travelers normally face breathing problems.

Next to the monastery is a small hill with prayer flags on it. The prayer flags are clearly visible from the monastery area. We suggest that everyone should spend an afternoon sitting on this hill and see the sunset. We wonder if there is any better sunset than this.

If you want to stay in Komic, then homestay and 2-3 rooms in the Gompa guesthouse is the only option here and booking it first in Kaza should be preferred.

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