History & Culture

Nako is situated in the upper Kinnaur region. The village has not any extant textual record, such as royal chronicle, genealogy, or lengthy inscription record. Rather the village seems to have resided at the margins, both physically and politically, of the major power centers controlling the region to which it belonged. Given the accumulation of Buddhist art and the numerous temples constructed in Nako from about the twentieth century onward, this villages must have had a substantial body of patrons and enough wealth to uphold robust patronage practices. This would indicate that Nako may indeed have been an important node along pilgrimage and trade routes running through what was once considered the larger Ngari kingdom, and sculptures provide a valuable historical record that provide insight into Nako’s religious history and its potential connections to both Ladakh and Ngari.

Buddhism stepped into the small village of Nako back in eighth century with the great efforts of Master Rinpoche and later great translator Rinchen Zangpo founded monasteries between 996 AD. Nako monasteries are testimony of well developed Vajrayana Buddhist iconography in India.

Chortens and temples emanating an air of serenity and cultural diversity in the village and its surrounding areas are worth visiting. Buddhist culture dominates the village. Food natives eat and clothes they wear are very similar to that of Tibetans’.

Cultural landscape of this remote area of upper Kinnaur is gradually making a drift toward contemporary modernism in the wake of huge tourist influx. What it would be like in next couple of years is hard to predict, hopefully the spiritual influence it carries doesn’t fade away in sands of time.

Dialects

The dialect in which this small village exchanges dialogues is ‘Kinnauri. As you climb up, the dialect starts to show minor changes in words and tone, which are entirely incomprehensive to an outsider. By the time you reach Sumdo, you will find locals interacting in entirely a different dialect; but again you won’t be able to figure out the difference.

Once you spend some time in the heart of this beautiful valley of dry fruits and homebrewed grape wine called angoori, you will gradually be able to identify variation in dialects. According to classification of languages made by the Linguistic Survey of India, Kanauri comes under Tibet-Chinese Family of Languages. It has further been classified as language belonging to Western Sub-Group of Pronominalized Himalayan Group belonging to Tibeto-Himalayan Branch under Tibeto-Burnab Sub-Family (Census of India 1961, Vol. 1 India, Part II-C(ii). Languages Tables.P.CL.XVI). In total, there are about nine different dialects spoken in various sections of Kinnaur district.

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