Lying in the idyllic Himalayas of North India is the Spiti Valley. It is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. Spiti also means ‘The Middle Land’ that is the land in between of India and Tibet. Spiti lies in between of Ladakh, Lahaul, Tibet, Kullu and Kinaur. It is surrounded by high mountain ranges on all the sides and is a stark high-dessert. Spiti is also called as ‘Little Tibet’ because of the similarity of its vegetation, climate and terrain with Tibet. It also possesses a unique Buddhist culture similar to the one found in Tibet and Ladakh. There are very few villages in Spiti, making it one of the least populated regions in India.
There are two basic approaches to reach the Spiti Valley.
The first being from Manali via Rohtang Kunzum La is one of the best routes to reach to Spiti as it is a sight to behold with desert landscape and no human civilization anywhere on the way until Kaza. There is a bus service available to reach till Kaza which is an ideal base at Spiti Valley. However, you can also hire a SUV from Manali which would be a better option. But check the road conditions before going due to the harsh weather conditions here. Also, this route is open only from June to October. On the way there is a small village called Chhatru having a Government Guest House and four shops where you can get some food. This is the last place to get mineral water and soft drinks. After almost five hours from Rohtang pass you will reach the Kanzum pass which is the highest point on the road.
The second route is from Shimla via Kinnaur valley. This route is open from May to October. This is a longer and a fascinating route with typical Himalayan landscape unlike the Manali route. If you plan to take on this route then you can stay overnight along the way at Reckong Peo.
Finally, make sure that the SUV driver that you hire is an experienced one as this will give you a better opportunity to make the best of your travel and to visit some spectacular places. Also, the accommodation beyond Shimla and Manali is very basic so don’t have very high expectations. However there are few new hotels built at Kaza but are still basic.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Spiti Valley is during summer that is from the month of mid May to mid October. As this region is covered by snow throughout the year it gets difficult to gain access to this place during winter. Also the Rohtang Pass remains closed during the other time of the year.
THINGS TO SEE
This is a one of the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley. It is situated on the top of a hill at about 4166 metres above the sea level and is also very close to the Spiti River. The view from the top is very beautiful. There are about 300 monks living here along with the many students from surrounding villages.
This is a Buddhist temple situated at a height of 3894 meters in the Spiti Valley between the two towns Kaza and Tabo. This is a 1200 year old monastery home to about 150 monks.
This is one of the oldest functioning Monastery that was built in 996 AD. Some of the original wall paintings and artefacts are still present in the monastery. It is about 50 km away from Kaza.
Just downhill from the village of Dhankar there is a small museum which you could visit. There are certain costumes, instruments and antique Buddhist devotional objects at display over here.
Pin Valley National Park
There is a national park in the region of Spiti which is also the coldest area. It was declared as a national park in the year 1987. It is home to some of the endangered wild animals like the snow leopard, lynx and blue sheep.
Chandra Taal Lake
This means the lake of the moon. It is situated at a height of 4300 metres in the Himalayas. The name of the lake is so given because of its crescent shape just as that of the moon. It is a beautiful picturesque location.
Amongst the other places includes the Saskyagongmig Monastery, Ghungri Monastery, Dhankar Tso, etc. There are also many famous places where you can go trek. With the help of the locals you can arrange for a trek. While trekking, you can also camp near the Chandra Taal Lake. It is one of the best experiences here. And while in Spiti it is recommendable to have a home stay as this gives you a better insight into the life of the people there and their way of living.
If you are a travel junkie and a mountain lover then a visit to this place is a must. Also Spiti is very popular for its age old monasteries located high on the mountains which will give you a good insight into the Buddhist culture. This place is a must visit for its beautiful landscape. Thus, the less explored region of Spiti by humans is definitely once in a lifetime experience.