Spiti Valley is a famous cold desert mountainous region located in northeast Himachal Pradesh. You must be wondering what ‘Spiti’ means. Well! It means ‘the middle land.’ It is the land located between India and Tibet. You will be amazed to know that this place is amongst the least populated ones in India and adjoining Tibet. Lahaul and Spiti together form the Spiti Valley region. Geographically, Spiti Valley is separated from Lahaul Valley by Kunzum Pass. Some people call it the virgin paradise. It is still untouched by mass tourism due to its elevated location at 12,500 feet above sea level. The paradise is cut off from the rest of the country for almost half the year, due to heavy snowfall.
Some of the must-visit places in Spiti Valley are Kunzum Pass, Chandratal lake, Key Monastery, and Suraj Tal and Dhankar Monastery, to name a few. The valley has a mixed tradition and culture between that of two regions. You will find Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples aplenty in the region. The people are also quite superstitious and dependent on nature for various answers about life. The place celebrates many fairs and festivals. So, you would be lucky, if you dropped in there on one such occasion.
Background of Spiti Valley
It is needless to say how beautiful Spiti Valley, along with Lahaul is one of the most beautiful cold deserts in India. You will find many natural formations and monasteries in the region, owing to the religious nature of the people. It also remains one of the most visited places, for archaeologists as they keep on unearthing some historical remains or the other. You will find a few historical monuments that are behind the huge tourism pull factor. Long back, no one really know about the place due to its dangerous terrain and rocky landscape. Moreover, foreign invaders paid less attention, as well.
Only after the Indian army, built roads across the region did it open up to the entry of tourists. In the year 1847, the Dogra Kings of Kullu and Kashmir took over the region. And thus, the British established their administration there. The region has always maintained strong links with Tibet. The Tibetan Government has also played a huge role in the development and proliferation of religion and culture in Spiti.
Popular Tourist Attractions
Although the Spiti Valley is a cold desert region, you will find lots of places to visit there. There are terrains that are rocky, devoid of greenery, and there are places which have rich vegetation. You can witness a wide variety of terrains and landscapes across the valley. Moreover, you will see rivers and streams flowing across the rocky boulders in certain places and glaciers in others. The place is strewn with tiny hamlets and monasteries. What more? You can truly enjoy authentic Tibetan culture there as well. If you are an adventure enthusiast, you can also engage in mountain biking and motorcycling across the snake-like pathways.
But that is not all that the place has on offer. You will be greeted by myriad celebrations. Some of the biggest festivals, that you cannot miss in Spiti Valley are La Darcha festival, Fagli festival, and Pauri fair, to name a few. You can witness various traditional art forms, like music and dance, during such times.
These are a few of the most popular places there:
- Key Monastery
- Chandratal Lake
- Suraj Tal
- Pin Valley National Park
- Tabo Monastery
- Kunzum Pass
- Dhankar Lake
- Nako Lake
These are just to name a few. You will find many hidden hamlets there, on your visit, as well.
Activities That You Can Indulge in Spiti Valley
Apart from touring the Spiti Valley, and discovering the beautiful spots around the place, you can also engage in numerous activities. Find the list given below.
- Camping – If you want to enjoy the unadulterated atmosphere at Spiti Valley, it has got to be under the stars. You can camp in Spiti between the months of April to June. The best spots for camping are Dhankar Lake, Chandratal, and Komic Village.
- Village Life Experience – You can head to Nako Village, which is a small village in Nako Valley. Interact with the locals, and immerse yourself in their culture. You will be able to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle there. You can explore the entire place on foot, during the summer season.
- River Rafting – The Spiti and Pin rivers provide you with myriad opportunities to practice river rafting. View the surrounding landscapes, monasteries, and glaciers en route. You can indulge yourself in this exciting activity even if you are a novice, but under expert guidance.
- Ride a Yak – This is another activity, which you cannot miss in Spiti Valley. These sturdy and calm bovines are quite common in Spiti, or for that matter, across Himachal and Tibet. They also play a vital role in transportation. You and your family can climb on a few and travel across the undulating landscape.
- Trekking – This is another activity, which you cannot miss in Spiti. You can trek to Chandratal, Suraj Tal or Dhankar lake, and camp there as well. These are moderate- level treks that last from 5-9 days.
- See the Mummy of Giu – If you thought that you can see mummies only in Egypt, you could be so wrong. The village of Giu has a mummy in a glass case. It is the mummy of a monk, who died 500-600 years back. The villagers visit the place, to seek blessings.
How To Spend a Few Days in Spiti Valley?
You can spend a few days or around a week in Spiti and come back energized. April to June is the best time to visit Spiti Valley. However, September is also good, but it may start snowing at any time. Most tourists reach Spiti from Delhi. The first point, is Reckong Peo. You can spend some time around Kinnaur or head straight to Kaza. Kibber and Key are the places, you can cover on the second day. It is important for you to check out Asia’s highest bridge, Chicham Bridge. Kibber is a very charming hamlet with unbelievably beautiful terrain. Moreover, the houses look the same, with whitewashed walls, maroon roofs, and blue and white patterns. You can also check out Key Monastery on the same day.
The monastery is almost 800 years old, and is a visual spectacle. Langza, Hikkim, and Komic are the places, you should visit next. All these villages are also located at a higher altitude, so you need to acclimatize at a lower altitude beforehand. Do check out the Buddha statue at Langza. The highest post office is at Hikkim. So, you should definitely post a card from there. You must also check Dhankar Lake, and Dhankar Gompa on this trip. On your way to Tabo, do check out Kalachakra Stupa and Tabo Monastery. You can check the best of places on your Spiti Valley trip.
How To Reach Spiti Valley?
You can enter Spiti Valley, via Shimla or Manali. Many tourists across India start their journey from Delhi. International tourists often disembark from their flights at Delhi and continue with their onward journey. The route from Shimla is longer but open throughout the year. However, the route from Manali is shorter but very bad. You can take overnight buses from Delhi or Shimla to reach Spiti Valley. Shimla has an airport and a railway station as well. So, you can also take a flight or train to Shimla. You can also go on a road trip, but you have to take the same route as the buses.
Places to Stay
You can stay at various types of accommodations in Spiti Valley. There are homestays, budget hotels, and five-star properties as well. Some of the best ones are Hotel Sakya Abode, Hotel Spiti Heritage, Spiti Valley Hotel, Hotel Deyzor, and Hotel Kunphen, to name a few. You can stay in PWD guesthouses in Sarahan, and also at the monasteries, which offer rooms at economical rates. Guest houses are quite common and a lifeline for travellers.