How To Plan Your Trip To Spiti – Ultimate Guide To Spiti Valley

hrtc bus service in spiti valley to kaza

Spiti valley is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh.The name Spiti means “The Middle land “i.e the land between India and Tibet.

Lahaul and Spiti is surrounded by High mountain ranges. This beautiful valley with the breath taking mountain scenery offers a journey of lifetime. Spiti is a cold desert where rain never comes. Its beauty lies in its narrow valleys and high mountains. A century ago, Rudyard Kipling, a famous writer called Spiti “a world within a world”. And “a place where God live”. In Spiti you can find Buddhist monasteries, small villages high altitude lakes and some rare glimpses of natural beauty. Now as due to the opening of Rohtang pass people are planning bike expeditions to Leh but still some people prefer visiting Spiti instead of Ladakh or Leh. So if you are planning a trip to Spiti valley then this is going to act as perfect guide for “exploring a world within a world”- Spiti Valley. Here in this post I am going to discuss everything from best time to how to reach Spiti Valley or in other words I can say this is a complete guide on how you can plan your trip to spiti valley

It borders Tibet in the east and Ladakh in the north. Spiti is also called Little Tibetas it has similar terrain, vegetation, climate, culture like that of Tibet. The valley experiences extreme of climate and temperature.

Best Time To Visit Spiti Valley

gyspy in spiti valley

image source – sunny thakur

For more than 4 months of year Spiti valley remains obscured by harsh winters.The ideal time to be in Spiti is from May to October. This is the time when region experiences summer. Winter is very cold and should be avoided.

Mid July to August is time of Monsoons there can be heavy rainfall, so its good to avoid Spiti at this time. September to October when autumn colors of Spiti is blooming with orange leaves on the trees enhancing its beauty to maximum. Its nice time to visit but you should check weather updates always especially in October. The best time to  go would be from mid February till March.There is high chances of snowfall near Shimla, Narkanda, Kufri and Kaza at this time. In June till September Spiti circuits remain open. While Spiti does not experience much rain, roads leading to valley can be still closed due to landslides in Monsoons.Chandratal is open during this time, this is additional advantage if you are traveling in June or early July, your trip will be pretty much eventless. However Monsoons would have arrived around Shimla and Kinnaur valley by late July bringing in chances of landslides along with it.You should be careful around this time or better to avoid journey at this time.By September Monsoon would have gone now valley will be colorful all around which makes it ideal time to be traveling here.

So if you aspire for safe trip, lush green hills and with colors of Spiti on your mind,  then June, early July and September is best time to visit. If you want adventure and heavy snow is your preference then February and march is the best month to go but do remember life is Spiti in winter is not easy and can be very challenging.

There are two routes that go to Spiti valley .One via Manali and other via Shimla.

From Manali – Rohtang pass- Gram Pho – Batal – Losar – Kaza

From Shimla – Narkonda- Rampur – Jeori- Reckchong- Peo- Nako- Tabo- Dhankar – Kaza.

Here are top 13 places to visit in Spiti.

1.Kunzum Pass 

kunzum pass gateway to spiti

Kunzum Pass , is a high mountain pass on the eastern Kunzum Range of the Himalayas . It connects the Kullu Valley and Lahaul  Valley with the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh India. There is also a 9 km trek to the Moon Lake also called as Chandratal from the Kunzum Pass. At the top of the Pass lies a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga and it is considered auspicious to do Parikrama of the temple and get blessings before going further into journey.

2.Key Monastery

key monastry spiti valley

Key Monastery is Tibetan Buddhist Monastery situated near Spiti river. Key Monastery  is the largest Monastery in Spiti valley situated close to Kibber village, the highest mot arable village in the world. It is the Religious training center of Lamas. In the past it has face some damage due to war, fire and violent Earth quakes. So it has been renovated and reconstructed several times which has given rise to its irregular box like structure.Here you can see Lamas studying, playing, singing which is a pleasant sight.The walls of the Monastery are decorated with beautiful paintings, valuable manuscripts and unique wind instruments. All together an unforgettable experience to cherish lifelong.

3.Chandratal Lake

chandratal lake in himachal pradesh

Chandratal, the Moon lake is situated in the Spiti part of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape .The lake is situated on Samudra Tapu pleatue which overlooks the Chandra river.The sweet water lake is around 2.5 km wide.The lake can be visited only during the three summer months. The best time to visit lake is from June end to September end. For the rest of the season the lake remains cut off and frozen.

It has been said in Hindu Mythology that Indra, the king of Gods, came down on his chariot to transport Yudhishthira, eldest of the five Pandavas, in his mortal form to Swarga {heaven}. Locals believe that fairies visit lake at night.

This beautiful lake gives traveler all the surprises and uniqueness which traveler craves for.The best way to experience this lake is to take a stroll all around and watch the lake changing color in itself. Its a perfect stop to enjoy the calmness and beauty of nature.

 

Chandra Tal offers magnificent view at night (after sunset). While temperature drops below Zero degree Celsius during pre-winter, the sky is filled with count-less stars & offers Spectacular Milky way view.

 

Possible road routes from Delhi to Chandratal by road are

 

Delhi – Kullu- Manali- Rohtang La – Gramphoo- Chatru- Battal – Chandratal.

 

Delhi- Shimla- Narkanda- Karcham- Powari- Puh- Nako-Tabo-Kaza- Losar – Kunzum La –Chandratal.

 

Nearest airport is Bhuntar near Kullu and Jubbarhatti near Shimla.And nearest railway station is at Shimla.

5.Tabo Monastery

tabo top place in himachal pradesh

Tabo Monastery was situated in Tabo village of Spiti valley Himachal Pradesh. It was founded by the Tibetan Buddhist Lotsawa {translator}Rinchen Zangpo  {Mahauru Ramabhadra }the king of western Himalayan kingdom of Guge. There are many priceless collections of Thankas (scroll paintings), manuscripts, well-preserved statues, frescos and extensive murals which cover almost every wall. It is the preserver of Buddhist legacy .The monastery has fine collection of well preserved paintings.

There are nearly 36 clay statues attached on the wall of assembly hall and believed to be as old as Monastery. It is also considered as historic treasure of India.The Monastery complex comprises 9 temples, 23 chortens, a monk’s chamber and an extension that houses the nuns chamber.

6.Dhankar Monastery

Dhankar Monastery spiti valley

Dhankar monastery is built at highest location in Spiti valley. It is one of the five main Buddhist centers and tourist destination in Spiti region. Centrally located in Spiti region Dhankar monastery offers panaromic view of the Spiti valley. It is located 29 km from Kaza.Dhankar originally called {“Dhak”,cliff and “Khar Palace”} literally means “Palace on a cliff”.Dhankar is also of historical importance for art lovers.

The Monastery consists of a number of multistory buildings that stand together, giving it fortress like impression, an image of Vairocana or Dhayana Buddha, consisting of four complete figures, seated back to back is the highlight of this Monastery.There are Buddhist scriptures in Bhoti language and elics such as paintings and sculptures.Two Gompas are housed in this Monastery Lha Opa Gonpa and Lkhang Gonpa. The former is supposed to date back the 12th century and the second Gompa is more prominent with its splendid mural which represents the life of Buddha.

 7.Baralacha la

baralacha la pass spiti valley

Baralacha la or Baralacha pass is one of the highest mountain pass. It means Pass where many roads meet. Here you can see mountains covered with snow all around which makes it heavenly experience. Baralacha pass connects two prominent mountain ranges of India Pir Panjal and Zanskar valley besides the great Himalayan ranges.

It is advised that one should make visit in this Himalayan region during the summers.The Bhaga river originates from Surya tal lake which is situated at  few kilometers from a pass towards Manali.It is at comparatively low altitude than some of the other passes in this region, its on the Leh Manali highway and offers great views and beauty .

Haunted story related to Baralacha la.

There is also a haunted story related to this place . The tale tells of a trio of soldiers who were trapped at the outpost for two months when they were hit by an uncommonly harsh winter, and no one could reach them for a rescue. When the weather got better and help finally arrived, it is said that there was a hunched over stranger at the post in the middle of devouring one of the dead soldiers amid body parts, pools of blood, and other half eaten bodies flung around him.

The stranger reportedly snarled and attacked the rescue team, who responded by shooting him down with their weapons. In the ensuing years, other soldiers posted at the site would complain of hearing mysterious phantom whispers or strange voices, as well as screams of agony, and there were occasional claims of seeing the sinister ghostly figure of a man holding a knife. Vehicles passing the remote outpost have also reported being chased by a knife wielding man who will suddenly vanish, as well as soldiers covered in blood standing in the snow, who will call out for help only to disappear into thin air if approached.

Read: 10 most haunted places in Shimla

8.Suraj Tal Lake

suraj tal lake in spiti valley

Image source- Hillography

Near below the Baralacha la  is having a beautiful emarld lake “The Suraj tal {Sun Lake} the source of river Bhaga. Suraj tal or Surya Tal is sacred body of water literally means the lake of The Sun God. It is the 3rd  highest lake in India and 21th highest lake in the world. The lake remains frozen throughout the year as it is one of the highest lakes in the the world. Legends say that one dip in this lake can purify human soul from all the sins. Small but beautiful lake with stunning views around Good spot for photo session and water give you lovely contrast to surroundings.

9.Dhankar Lake

dankar lake in himachal pradesh

Dhankar lake is situated above the village of Dhankar at the height of 4136 meters in the middle of hills.This lake lies above the Monastery of Dhankar in Spiti.This lake is approached by a trek from the Monastery. It spreads over large area with its crystal clear water.The color of the lake keeps on changing. It is surrounded by barren hills. It offers a beautiful site to eyes and soul.

There is a small temple being built by local people on the side of the lake.There is a pole with lots of prayer flags on the other side of the lake. Despite its remote location, the Shrine is visited by large number of Buddhists. It is a dream come true for people who have passion for photography. It is an extremely photogenic site. The lake with its changing colors makes the scenery ethereal and the photographs absolutely magical.

10.Pin valley National Park

PIN VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

Pin Valley National Park is located in Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.The region is a cold desert. It is home of endangered animals like Snow Leopard and Siberian Ibex. Pin Valley National Park was established by India in 1987. High peaks towering to elevations of 6000mts surround this valley from all sides. A large part of the total area of this park was under permanent cover of snow.

Nearest town – Kaza . Nearest Rail head and airport – Shimla.

11.Trilokinath Temple

trilokinath temple lahaul spiti district

The Shri Trilokinathji temple is situated in Udaipur subdivison of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Ancient name of Trilokinath temple is Tunda Vihar. It is Sacred to both Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus.Hindus consider Trilokinath Deity as Lord Shiva while the Buddhist worship the Deity as Avalokiteshvara ,a form of Buddha. The temple is situated in the panoramic and lush green valley with the serene river Chandra Bhaga flowing by.

The temple is built in ancient wooden Pagoda style and decorated by Tibetan Prayer flags at entrance.In the Indian Religious thought many a times Shiva and Buddha are one and identical. At the gate of the Temple inside courtyard stand two pairs of Parallel pillars close to each other. It is said that sinner cannot pass through these pillars even if he is as thin as leaf, in case the person is not sinned he can easily pass even he is as fat as pumpkin.The silver Idol of Kali as Mahishasurmardini was installed by Thakur Himpal in 1959-60.

12.Komik village

komik village spiti valley

This  village is said to be highest in the world. It has motorable road, and is situated at a towering altitude of around 15,027 ft above sea level. Komik  Village Is also famous for Lundup Tsemo Gompa  Buddhist monastery. It is said the monastery has the Matrey Buddha or the future Buddha. Festivals are part of life in the village. Even tourist can enjoy the festivals. For adventure lovers there are lot of opportunities for trekking.

 13.Kibber Village

kibber village spiti valley himachal pradesh

Kibber is a beautiful village located in Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh. It holds the distinction of Highest motorable village in the world.The unique thing about this village is that houses are made of stone and in box like shape, the place has school, dispensary and post office. Its a great place to experience local life of Himalayan people, one can also opt for homestay to understand  the lifestyle of hilly people. People here are very friendly and kind at heart.

It contains a monastery and the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary.  Kibber monastery is situated at the highest point in the village above all the houses. This monastery was founded by Serkang Rimpochhe of Tabo. Kibber wildlife sanctuary houses animals like Ibex, Red Fox, Himalayan Wolf, Blue Sheep (Bharal) and the majestic snow leopard.

Top Things To Do In Spiti Valley

Yak Safaris

yalk safari in spiti valley himachal pradesh

Yak and Horse Safaris are the best and some of the most popular and loved ways to explore Spiti region. A stocky, shaggy beast, the Yak must be respected for its strength and temperamental nature.

Thangka Painting

thangka paintings on monastry 3

A Thangka is a Tibetan Buddhist Painting on cotton or silk applique usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene or Mandala.Thangka is a unique art form that belongs to Tibetan culture. In Tibetan the word “ Than” means flat and the suffix ka stands for painting. Thangka is thus a kind of painting done on flat surface but which can be rolled up when not required for display.

The most common shape of Thangka is the upright rectangular form.

Tibetan shops

Tibetan shops in spiti valley

The are lots of Tibetan shops available in market where one can purchase Chinese made ceramic utensils, clothes and other local ornaments, stones, gems and jewellery etc.

How to Reach Spiti Valley

There are two ways of accessing Spiti valley. One is through Shimla- Reckong Peo- Kaza  and other one is through Manali- Rohtang – Gramphu – Kaza

Shimla- Reckong Peo – Kaza highway is open through out the year. But the only thing you need to check is the weather conditions and road conditions before heading to Spiti valley.

Manali – Kaza highway remain close for half of the year due to the heavy snowfall at Kunzum pass and Rohtang Pass. And the expected time for the opening of Rohtang pass varies from May to June.

Various Option for Travel

hrtc bus service in spiti valley to kaza

Buses from Shimla

You can take HRTC or private buses from Shimla to Reckong Peo. The buses run at regular interval from Shimla to Reckong Peo from 5 in the morning to 6 in the evening.

There are two government ordinary buses operate from Shimla to Kaza in the evening. First government bus departs from Shimla at 18:30 PM and second one (Hamirpur – Kaza) at 20:00 PM. But none of this bus goes upto Kaza

Buses from Manali

The total distance between Manali and Kaza is around 210km. Buses leave from Manali at around  5 in the morning and the ticket will cost you around 200 Rs per person.

Best Option To Reach

If you ask me personally the best option to Travel to Spiti Valley, then for me it is The Bike Expedition. The roads to Spiti Valley are muddy, rugged, slippery and believe me guys its an amazing feeling to drive a Royal Enfield on these roads. I remember my last trip where me and my friends hired bikes from Bhuntar and planned a expedition following the route Bhuntar- Manali- Rohtang- Gramphu- Spiti- Kaza- Reckong peo- Jibhi. Spiti is isolated with no human population. There will be no mobile signals so the only thing you need is to drive safe whether its your car or your bike.

There are number of Bike renting options in Manali. But due to peak season, prices in Manali could be very high. So I would prefer you to rent a bike from Bhuntar.

Renting a Bike from Bhuntar is always a great idea as you can also plan a small trip to Mini Israel of India – Kasol, Kheerganga, Tosh, Malana.

Read: How to Rent Bikes From Bhuntar

 

 

 

 

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