Spiti means “the middle land”. The land which stands between India & Tibet. Spiti valley is a cold desert mountain in the northeastern part of Himachal Pradesh near the China Border. It lies on the Tibetan Plateau at a height of more than 11000 feet and is considered as one of the most peaceful and less visited places in India. In this post I will guide you on how to reach Spiti Valley and experience the best of this amazingly beautiful place.
Spiti valley is accessible only during the summers as the roads are blocked with heavy snowfall throughout the year. Most of the people living here follow Buddhism and lead a very simple and basic life. You won’t find mobile operators, only BSNL & Landline is accessible that too in some of the prime villages. Most of the tourists visiting Spiti are adventure seekers, trekkers, and bikers.
Spiti Valley is a destination with a difference and makes for an ideal getaway for backpackers and travelers. If you are a cultural enthusiast, a history buff, an adventure addict, or simply a hungrily eyed nomad who wants to see some amazing landscape, then Spiti is the place for you. Once you reach Spiti Valley, You should give a minimum of seven days to explore the beauty of this place. However, you will need 1-2 days to get acclimatize to the high altitudes and you may feel the lack of oxygen in air and experience minor headaches. Things become quite normal once your body is properly acclimatized.
How To Reach Spiti Valley
There are two ways to reach Spiti valley, One is from Manali & the other is from Shimla. You can start your journey from either of the places and end on another making a round trip. It is recommended to hire a private car with a local expert driver, self-drive, or even book a bike trip organized by many tour operators.
Manali: If you are starting from Manali, you have to take the route through Rohtang pass on Manali- Leh highway. Turning right from Grumphu, passing through Chhatru and Batal. Then crossing over the Kunzum Pass (4600 meters) driving towards Kaza.
Shimla: From Shimla, you will have to take take NH-22 route passing through Narkanda, Rampur, Wangtoo and Kharchham. Later continue the journey through Kinnaur towards Nako and reaching Kaza.
The Best Time to Visit Spiti Valley
The best time to visit Spiti valley is from June to October. One must make a note, it is not advisable to plan a trip to Spiti other than these months. The reason is simply because most parts are not accessible and are blocked with a heavy layer of snow.
Places To Visit Once Reach Spiti Valley
Kaza is the main village/ town of entire Spiti. It is also considered as the capital of Spiti Valley. It is situated at an altitude of 3800 meters. You will find most of the hotels, restaurants, and small markets along with a hospital located here in Kaza.
Dhankar (Dhankhar) was the former capital of the Nono Kings of Spiti. It is well known for its 1200-year-old Dhankar Gompa built on a rock with a barren rock slowly drowning in a river. The monastery is influenced by impenetrably motivating ideas. It is also an endangered site as the river is slowly destroying its base every year. The beautiful site of the confluence of the Pin and Spiti river can be seen from here.
Tabo Gompa is Dalai Lama’s favorite monastery and a world heritage site which was founded in 996 AD by the great translator – Rinchen Zangpo. The Monastery of Tabo is also known as Ajanta of the Himalayas because of Indo- Tibetan art. Gompa has huge statues of Bodhisattva and elegant wood carvings. It is located at a distance of 48 km from Kaza.
Key Monastery is also known as Ki Monastery and Kye Monastery. It is the biggest monastery in Spiti Valley and is more than a thousand years old. It is one of the religious training for Lamas and is situated at an altitude of 4100 meters. The Key monastery holds cultural and religious importance for the people living in Spiti.
Chandrataal Lake in Spiti Valley
Chandratal is the most beautiful place you will find in the entire Spiti. The lake is situated at an altitude of 4300 meters surrounded by the mighty Himalayas. The name Chandratal means Lake of the Moon and is inspired by its crescent shape. Few camping sites are also available near the lake.
The National Park Of Pin Valley is the home of rare snow leopard & the ibex of the Himalayas. You can enjoy trekking here which is an amazing experience in itself. Make sure that you obtain the necessary permits to enter the park. Please note that foreigners are not allowed inside the park.
Kumzum La pass, located at an elevation of 4500 meters is one of the highest motorable roads in India. The area is safeguarded by a small temple of Goddess Kunzum and almost all the drivers will stop here to offer prayer. It offers 360-degree view of the magnificent mountains covered with snow for almost all round the year.
World’s Highest Post Office
Hikkim Post Office located at an altitude of 4440 meters above the sea level is the highest in the world. You can try posting a letter to yourself and see how many days it takes to reach your home.
Local Food & Beverages
Thukpa, Churpe, Momos, Tsampa, buckwheat chiltas are some of the must-try local dishes of Spiti Valley. You can also try Chhang which is the local beer made from barley. Yak cheese is also very popular amongst the local living in the high altitudes
Shopping In Spiti Valley
Kaza market is a great place to buy souvenirs from this beautiful part of the world. You can buy local potteries, artistic handicrafts, local shawls and winter wear, Buddha statue, prayer flag, local jewellery, and accessories.
Festivals Of Spiti Valley
Losar is the biggest festival of these regions. Losar is also known as Tibetan New Year celebrated somewhere around January end or starting of February. Cham Dances which depicts the victory of good over evil are organized at different places throughout the year. Dachang is celebrated at the end of winter which organizes dances in traditional clothes and sword dance. Ladarcha is the biggest fair in Kaza held in the month of August.