Limi Valley: Tibetan Influenced Isolated Valley
Although the parts of central and lowland area of Nepal has been draped with the modern development, the major part of this country is still a mystery and are so remote where time seems to have rewind.
In those majestic Himalayas, which has captivated us and made us covet the glory, lies the most remote lifestyle, whose custom and practice are as intact as they were centuries before. Well, it seems like the Himalayas aren’t the home of mountains only, but has also been providing sanctuary to the people for centuries.
Limi Valley is the rarely visited, a distant land located in Humla District of Nepal. Located amid the Hills and Saipal Himal in the backdrop, Limi Valley is still untouched of modern amenities, which makes you feel like stepping back in time. Adhering to the centuries-old Buddhist tradition interwoven with shamanistic influences is still an important part of people in Limi Valley.
Going through weeks-long trekking, facing exhaustion, exhilaration, and excitement, Limi Valley trek lets you unravel the most exotic and intact natural beauty.
Also, bestowed with the title of “off the beaten path trek,” Limi Valley trek takes you along the ancient salt trading and pilgrimage route to the border of Nepal and China while crossing Nara La pass at 4,620 meters.
As the valley is yet to fully explore, it is no less a mystery and quite mystical as well for its existence under the shade of extremity. Limi Valley is definitely for those who want to be surprised and experience something more and different.
ABOUT LIMI VALLEY
Limi Valley is Tibetan-influenced, and even its very name is inspired by it. Le meaning “land between two rivers” and Mi meaning “people living on land between rivers” in Tibetan dialect, Limi Valley is rooted in Tibetan culture on many levels.
As per the legends, Tibetan traders who would come to Nepal and Tibet border for business and some of them got settled in Limi Valley because of its strategic location. So, traditionally and culturally, Limi Valley shares a strong connection with Tibet.
In today’s date too, the tradition of trade and cultural exchange lies between Limi Valley and Tibet. As the valley is remote and distant to other parts of Nepal, people of Limi Valley relies on trade with Tibet. Due to the lack of arable land, from a lump of salt to the basic necessities of food, they are dependent on the Chinese side.
It is saddening to say that when the world has gone way too ahead, Limi Valley is still struggling with the basics of life. The valley has also not been able to receive any benefit, even the subsidized salt provided by the government to people of Humla.
Trekking to Limi Valley is more than walking along with a beautiful setting of nature; it is a rare privilege to experience the extreme struggle in an isolated and remote part of the world draped in the most distinctive and unique culture.
Limi Valley opened its doors for the first time in 2002; however, it is still one of the most protected and restricted areas of Nepal. Limi Valley trek surprises more than an off-the-beaten-path trail, Tibetan culture, an array of pristine and austere beauty; the valley also harbors some wildlife like wild horses, wolves, marmots, wild yaks, blue sheep, barking deer and the elusive snow leopard.
Another thing to heed for those who want to embark on Limi Valley trek is, it is camping trek; meaning, there is no guesthouse accommodation in this trek. Well, seems like you are totally up for an adventure in Limi Valley trek.
ATTRACTIONS OF LIMI VALLEY TREK
Tibetan-Influenced Culture and Practise
Once you have been to Limi Valley, the lifestyle can really awestruck you. Despite being a part of Nepal, Nepali is a secondary language, and Tibetan is more mainstream.
Although there are several Himalayan settlements of Nepal in the proximity of Tibet, Limi Valley’s Tibetan is much closer and cleaner than other Himalayan communities to central Tibetan.
Limi Valley also follows Tibetan Buddhism and has embraced it as a part of their life. Another interesting thing about this valley is, there is no class structure like in the rest of Nepal; however, two distinct groups exist based on family size and ancestry.
Estimated to be around 1000-year old, Rinchenling Monastery lies in the largest village of Limi Valley, Halji, thus also sometimes referred to as Halji Monastery. The monastery acts as an important cultural and spiritual center of Limi Valley.
As per the legend, during the second renaissance of Buddhism, King of Guge sent 21 students to Tibet to translate the text from India’s Kashmir, and only two of them returned. One became the famous translator Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055), who built 108 monasteries in his life; one of them is Rinchenling Monastery.
Rinchenling Monastery is one of the last few surviving monasteries from that period as rest were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution which began in Tibet in 1959.
Along with the religious and spiritual essence, Rinchenling monastery also consists of valuable artifacts and relics that are kept hidden. Only a few visitors are allowed to see them because there is fear that antiquities might be smuggled.
Rinchenling Monastery is not only taken as spiritual cornerstone but is also an important part in governance and sustenance of Halji Village of Limi Valley.
The whole complex of Rinchenling Monastery consists of two buildings; one is the monastery itself, and another is Mani Lha-Khang. It is a village temple run separately by locals, sometimes used for ceremonies.
Located in the south side of the Monastery complex, Mani LhaKhang temple consists of a vestibule and a Mani room, which has a large Matic (Prayer wheel). You will witness the images of Guru Rimpoche, Chyaranji, Chaptong Chengtong (Avalokitesvara) and Sakyamuni while the vestibule has six prayer wheels.
If you move towards the western part of Mani LhaKhang, you will see the three different rooms divided as the kitchen, a preparation room and a store used for certain ceremonies.
One of the three main villages of Limi Valley, Til is located at an altitude of 4,100 meters and is one of the main attraction of this trek. The village is very picturesque with stunning dancing barley fields. Sharing the name with their village, the people of Til are called Til-Wa.
Til Village falls en route of Limi Valley which has a beautiful entrance of the small wooden bridge, after which you will get past two-footed stupa. No matter the distant location, Til Village is charming with well-constructed houses from dry stone. A Large Prayer Wheelhouse and telephone room at the center of the village gives a sight of the religious and modern value of Limi village.
Kunzum Do-Nag Choden Monastery
As Limi Valley is centered to Tibetan Buddhism, there are several monasteries and gompas, that has remained as the point of reverence of locals for centuries. Likewise, Kunzum Do-Nag Choeden Monastery is one of such holy places in Limi Valley, which is more than 300 years old.
As you walk around the Til Village, you will see falling water on right side of the village, and to its right lies the Kunzum Monastery, one of the best places to look for during Limi Valley.
Zang Village of Limi Valley lies at 3,930 meters elevation, where you will arrive after Halji Village. Of three villages, Zang is the easternmost and well-situated settlement from a geographical point of view.
Exploring this isolated village of Limi Valley which is neatly arranged in two clusters separated by fields, there are very less agricultural activities, but the vast hinterland of yak, sheep and goat grazing is an overwhelming view.
The biggest village in Limi Valley, Halji is the very much awaited by trekkers for many reasons. Situated at an elevation of 3,650 meters on the northern banks of Limi River, Halji Village homes the oldest Tibetan monastery in Nepal.
Limi River cuts through the Halji village which is at the edge of the village, and it leaves a fertile basin for life to sustain. Life in Limi Valley is far more than “remote,” along with the challenges of food, glacial flash flood ravages the villages and takes away a chunk of fertile land every year.
Despite such remoteness and impending threats, the hardworking and determinant people of Limi Valley always find the strength to flourish.
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