Background and Information about Limi Valley

Limi Valley is a very remote Himalayan valley in the tucked away in the steep mountainous terrain of North West Nepal. Geographically and culturally it belongs more to the Tibetan Plateau than Nepal. As such it is an isolated pocket of Tibetan culture which has avoided the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It is very much a Shangri La.

So remote is Limi Valley that Michael Palin erroneously described it as inaccessible. However, there are two very arduous footpaths into this valley which have been used for centuries. Each footpath takes 3-6 days to walk along from the administrative centre of the district. This centre called Simikot and is itself remote with no road to it.

However while its remoteness has helped to preserve the indigenous Tibetan culture and Buddhism it has been at the cost of education. There has never been a school in Limi. This is something which troubles the families in the Valley and something which they have wanted to address for a while.

The inhabitants of Limi are divided into three villages called Til, Halji and Jang. Each village has about 50 households with Halji being slightly larger. The three villages lie at an altitude of about 4000 metres. The total population of the Limi Valley is about 1700.

During the summer months, life in this Shangri-La revolves around cultivating the small terraced barley fields. These fields are planted and May and harvested in October and during this period the whole family, including children must help out. In addition to this various family members must look after the herds of yak in the high pastures up the side valleys. This is not really suffice to make ends meet so the villagers also trade commodities between China and Nepal using their Tibetan connections.

During the winter months the valley is snowbound and the fields and pastures buried under heavy snowfalls. The villagers now retire to the confines of their citadel type houses from December to March. Some of the villagers may even migrate to Kathmandu for the winter months but most remain. In the winter months the village-bound families spend a lot of time maintaining properties, traditional handcrafts, socializing and in prayer.

Unless it is local or grown in the valley everything must be carried in. This includes all the building materials except for stone. Indeed the timbers have o be carried in from the forests around Simikot on the back of yak. The yaks can carry about 70 kg or two lengths of timber each for the 3 day journey over the 5000 metre Nyalu Pass.

Further reading