The government of Himachal Pradesh has set up a gymnasium at Kaza, the seat of the scenic Spiti Valley, at an elevation of 12,000ft, claiming it to be the highest gymnasium in the world.
The gym, with equipment worth ₹10 lakh, was set up at the Kaza Sports Complex and aims to promote physical fitness among local youths.
“The gymnasium is the highest in the world. We are in the process of having it verified by the Guinness Book of World Records,” said the state’s Tribal Development Minister, Ram Lal Markanda.
“Local youth will have the opportunity to spend time engaging in physical activity rather than being lured into unhealthy lifestyles, including addiction to electronic gadgets and substance abuse. As well as keeping residents fit, it will help visitors acclimatize to the high altitude region,” the minister said.
In recent years, the tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh have seen general development but reduced physical activity. Local residents complain that lifestyle-related illnesses, such as heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes, which were previously unheard of in this cold desert, are now surfacing.
“The set up of the gym is good. It will channel the energy of young people, who are otherwise addicted to electronic gadgets,” says Dolma, a 65-year-old resident who only has one name. “The government also encourages women to use the facility,” she adds.
The government hopes that better facilities in the tribal district will reduce the incidence of winter migration. For decades, residents of Lahaul and Spiti districts remained cut off from the rest of the world due to snowfall at Rohtang Pass which connected the valley to the outside world. With the opening of the Atal tunnel at the pass, the trend was reversed. The government organized a winter carnival in Spiti last winter in addition to the national ice skating and ice hockey championships to promote winter sports among the tribal youths.
* Atal Tunnel under Rohtang Pass on Manali-Leh highway is the longest road tunnel in the world above 10,000 feet. It is the longest freeway monotube tunnel above 10,000 feet with a length of 9.02 km.
* The world’s tallest post office, housed in a mailbox-shaped building, was recently renovated in the village of Hikkim in the Spiti Valley at a height of 14,567 feet.
*Situated at 15,500 feet, Komic in Spiti is the highest village in the world to be connected to a motorable road.