Langza: A Fossil Village in Spiti Valley Of H.P

Langza, a small village situated in the remote corner of Himachal Pradesh, is one of the remotest villages of India.This picturesque village has gained popularity among offbeat travelers in recent years due to its rare "Fossil village" and cultural heritage.In this article, we'll take a closer look at Langza and why it's worth a visit.

Location and Geography

Langza is located at an altitude of 14500 feet or 4420 meters and is set at the base of Chau Chau Kang Nilda mountain, also known as the Princess Mountain.  Langza is believed to have derived its name from ‘La’ (mountain pass) and ‘Za’ (from Zama). The village is divided into two parts, Langza Yongma and Langza Gongma. The lower part of the village is Langza Yongma, while the upper part is Langza Gongma, which houses the local village temple, Lang. 

The village is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, and it boasts green fields on brown hills and distinctive houses constructed in Tibetan-style architecture. The most popular picture of Langza on the internet is the monumental Buddha statue that guards the village from the top of the hill. 

The Langza Buddha Statue

The monumental Buddha statue is the village’s highest establishment, positioned at the very top of the hill, and the most ideal place to visit in Langza village. The statue is a ten-minute trek from the base parking area. The statue is believed to be 1,000 years old. The great Buddha statue and the Langza Gompa, where deities live, protect this village and its inhabitants. 

Rare Fossil Village 

One of the unique features of Langza is its rare fossil village. Tourists can find fossils of marine animals and plants that were found in the Tethys Sea millions of years ago. There’s a Chaudua Centre (local name for fossil) that one can visit and know more about such fossils. Geologists believe that these fossils are much older than the Himalayas, and a lot of research has been done on them. 

The common fossils found in Langza include coral reefs of the Triassic period, aged between 250 and 199 million years, and ammonoids of the Triassic-Jurassic period, also 199 and 145 million years old. Due to the value of these million-year-old fossils, some people started collecting and selling them at low prices to tourists. However, this led to the Himalayan Pradesh government banning the sale of marine fossils to tourists visiting Spiti Valley a few years ago.

History of Langza Village 

Langza and many other villages in the Spiti Valley were submerged under the ancient geological Tethys Ocean more than 200 million years ago. It was home to many varieties of Mesozoic marine animals. Around 50 million years ago, the Himalayan range and the Tibetan Plateau emerged from the collision between the tectonic plates of two supercontinents (Laurasia and Gondwana), which made the Tethys ocean disappear. Fossils of marine animals living under the Tethys Sea are found today in Langza and neighboring villages. 

Zama Pottery 

In the olden days, due to the extremities of climate and difficult terrain, residents of the Spiti Valley lived in complete isolation from the outer world. This isolation was the reason why they were able to preserve their culture and local craft. 

One such ancient art form is Zama pottery, which was the main occupation of Langza village traditionally. This heritage form of clay pottery originated in the Spiti Valley due to the presence of yellow and black clay in the region. The necessity to make pots for various household uses gave birth to Zama pottery. 

Nowadays, steel, plastic, and china wares have become widely available in the valley, prompting the craftsmen to diversify into making decorative pots, lamps, and other artifacts. Some potters at Langza inherited the art form from their forefathers and still practice it. 

Endangered Animals 

Langza village is home to many endangered animals such as snow leopards, foxes, and wolves. Visitors should be respectful of the natural habitat of these animals and avoid disturbing them. 

Preserving the Unique Geographical Features 

Finding a marine fossil in the Himalayas is one of the most unexpected and exciting things to do in Langza. However, it is equally important to realize the archaeological importance of these fossils and preserve this unique geographical feature of the Himalayas. Visitors should avoid buying or collecting fossils and instead learn about them from local experts. 

In conclusion, Langza is a hidden gem in Spiti Valley that's worth a visit for those who love offbeat destinations, history, archaeology, and culture. The fossil village and Langza Buddha statue are the main attractions of the village, but there's more to explore in this picturesque hamlet.

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