A small village etched in Himalayan mountains, Tashigang - nearly 15,256 feet above sea level in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti district, is the world's highest polling station. The district election officer, Ashwani Chaudary said that the area has a total of 48 voters comprising 30 male and 18 female voters.
For previous elections, the voters, mostly Buddhist monks of the Tashigang monastery and surrounding Gete village, used to trek down 15 kilometres from their homes to the nearest polling booth at Hikkam village - which earlier held the record of the world's highest polling station at 14,567 feet above sea level. Hikkim village has a total of 196 voters.
Tashigang is also just 29 kilometres away from India-China border and is one among 17 assembly segments of Mandi - the second largest constituency in India.
There is no proper road connectivity till Tashigang as its weather conditions differ substantially from the neighbouring hamlets of Lahaul Spiti. It is mostly buried under snow for a majority part of the year which has made the roads unsafe for vehicular movement. There is still no mobile connectivity in the region and on the polling day of May 19, the election officials are planning to use a satellite phone.
The district election officer reportedly said that for his team taking the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and other election material to the polling booth would be a challenge considering Tashigang is still under 4 feet of snow. This village is nearly 35 kilometres away from Kaza subdivision of the Lahaul Spiti district and is non-motorable, the officials said.
The in-charge election official said that the aim behind setting up the polling booth was to facilitate the voting process in the two villages which remain cut off from the rest of the state, most of the time.
"We have already informed the Election Commission of India about setting up of the polling booth at Tashigang and will ensure that all the facilities are available there," Chaudary said.
Some pictures of scenic Tashingang: