Tholang – Tiny Village of Lahaul Loaded With Super-achievers

Manali: The tiny village of Tholang with just 36 families, in the snowbound tribal belt of Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh, boasts of having produced over 50 professionals which include several IAS, IPS, HAS officers, doctors and engineers and in the fashion world over the years.

Anecdotally, the village, just 113-km from the tourist hub, Manali, has produced the most officers from a single village. Tucked away between rock-faced rocky mountains in Lahaul Valley, Tholang is a mere speck on the map of Himachal Pradesh.

Yet this tiny village of 300-odd people has contributed more personnel to the top-rung government services than almost any other village in the country. In the last four decades, eight of its inhabitants have made it to the premier civil services-including three in IAS.

Scenic Tholang village of Lahaul (Photo credit: Ankush Kapoor on Twitter)

Not surprising, the Buddhist village has 100 per cent literacy, with 90 per cent of its women being graduates. By accepting education early the village has made the most of the government policies on tribal welfare.

A.N. Vidyarthi, batch IAS officer from Tholang, the first from the village.. The village produced its first IAS in 1968, AN Vidyarthi, later who went to become the state’s chief secretary.

Owing to the tough topography, majority of the villagers have moved either to Kullu or are now settled in Manali. A substantial number, who have settled outside Tholang after retirement, have taken to the hospitality industry. Those settled outside are not interested in voting. Like other villages across Lahaul and Spiti, Tholang loses connectivity with the rest of the state for six months a year, when the valley is closed due to the snowfall.

Vidyarthi, whose selection to the IAS, inspired others. Vinod Largae, a resident of adjacent village of Tandi said, “It was just the harsh life in the village that encouraged people to venture out,” he told Hillpost over phone from Manali. “There was no road connectivity and electricity. Villagers had to travel quite a long distance to reach even the most basic facilities.

The primary school was set up by Christian missionaries as early as the 1920s. “Hard life made us more enterprising,” says Vinod. What gave a major boost to education was the ST status which is a passport to government jobs.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Sunil Kumar Satpathy

    Very interesting ofcourse. We would like to visit Tholang when we move on our trip to Spiti in September, 2023. A reputed journalist whose book titled ‘Madam President’ has been printed by The Penguin will be accompanying. We may meet if time permits and you are available. Glad that you pursue your hobby and not abide by your qualification. It is freedom.

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