Spiti, the “middle land” between India and Tibet is culturally enchanting with its scenic beauty. This place exudes so much positivity that it is quite difficult to not grow fond of it. The landscape of pristine blue sky with little patches of cloud skeltering through is a balm to the sore eyes. The mighty barren mountains with snow-clad tops contrasts the insignificance of the everyday problems. As many of my friends and friend’s friends were querying about Spiti, I prepared an itinerary for everyone who is interested in travelling to Spiti.
Let’s take a tour of the land of majestic.
Spiti lies between east longitude 76° 46’29” and 78° 41’ 34” and east latitude 31° 44’57” and 32° 59’57”. A respectable constellation of old monasteries at Tabo, Dhankar, Kye, kungri and Lalung evidently speak of Buddhism prevailing in Spiti. It is locally known as Piti or sPyi-ti which is officially accepted name. In the local literature, the term Spiti is inscribed at times with a special epithet like sPiti Phi-lchogs, sPi-ti spi-lchogs or sPiti la-lchog. This epithet for Spiti is found in the Ladags Gyalrabs (History of Ladakh), namthar of Siddha rGod-tshangpa (12th century CE) and Siddha lama Rang-rig as-chhen (17th century CE). Surrounded by high mountains on all sides the region is located on the leeward side(where there is minimal rain) of the Trans Himalayas.The Spiti River, originating from the foot of glacial peak flows approximately 160km in a south-easterly direction up to its confluence with Pare Chu at Sumdo. It goes on to merge with the River Sutlej at Khab further downwards. Rock faces in the area are veritable storehouses of the geological history of the Himalayas, dating back to 500 million. The Spiti valley has an amazing proliferation of Precambrian/Cambrian era fossils. The valleys of the Lingti and the Pin Rivers have long been frequented by researchers for fossils. The Spiti area drained by the Spiti River which is bound by Lahaul on the North west, Kinnaur on the south and Kullu in the west and Western Tibet in the North and East.
People of Spiti are quite humble and hospitable. Everybody will offer you tea and food whenever you visit them.
Let’s start with the route
There are two routes to visit Spiti one is from Shimla via Rampur Bushahr, Reckong Peo, Spillow, Poh, and Nako. NH 21 to NH 5. While travelling through this route you will often find signboard saying “you are travelling on world’s most treacherous road” and “don’t be Gama in the land of lama”. No doubt roads are really adventures, but not meant for faint hearted people and novice drivers. So beware!
Other route is via Kullu & Manali, rohtang pass and kunzum pass. Personally, this is my favorite one. You may get the glimpse of this route in my previous blogs on Spiti valley. SPITI ESCAPE (Part I) , Spiti Escape(part 2) A picture Travelogue
Points to be remembered
- I suggest taking a full circle (which maximum people prefer), “start from Shimla route and come back via Manali route”. While selecting this “full circle journey” one should keep in mind that Kunzum pass should be open, otherwise you won’t be able to make it and have to opt for Shimla-Peo-Tabo-Kaza and return back through the same route. For your knowledge, I must update you here, that Kunzum pass usually open up around First week of June uptill mid October.
- While travelling through Shimla you can take a detour to Sangla valley. Visit the last village of India from this side i.e; Chitkul and enjoy the serenity of Kinnaur.
- Non-Indians will need an inner line permit to visit Spiti. You can get that either from Reckong Peo or from Kaza, if travelling via Manali.
- Reckong Peo is the headquarter of Kinnaur district. this town is basically a transit point of your journey, where you should fill the patrol tanks of your vehicles, as well as your empty stomachs ;-P because the next petrol pump will be 200 km away in Kaza(Spiti).
- Kalpa is a must visit, to witness the mesmerizing view of kinnar kailash range. It is just 20 km away from Reckong peo. If you are willing then you can book a night halt at Himachal tourism hotel at Kalpa instead of staying at Reckong peo. It’s actually worth it!
- You will experience breathtaking panoramic views, while travelling via Nako.
So lets prepare a day wise stoppage plan.
Starting point is Shimla and end point is Manali. You can make it other way around as well.
Day 1- Shimal to Sarahan- 163 km. you can visit the renowned Bheema Kali temple at Sarahan.
Day 2 -Sarahan to Chitkul- 119 km, Chitkul is the last village of Indian border from that side.
Day 3-Chitkul to Kalpa- 63 km, Kalpa to Nako- 100 km= 163 km. lot of homestays and hotels are available here, suitable for every budget.
Day 4– Nako to Tabo-150 km. staying at Tabo and visiting the Ajanta of Himalayas is a must. Timing to visit Tabo monastery is from 6 am to 5 pm. Ample of hotels, home stays, and restaurants are available here.
Day 5- Tabo to Kaza-48km via Dhankar village which is around 30 km. After visiting the Dhankar monastery you can go for a hike which may take around 1.30 hrs to reach Dhankar lake. Further you can also take a detour to Lalung monastery, situated approx 15 kms away from Dhankar village, and can come back to the main highway towards Kaza from Rama village. I must mention here that Lalung Monastery is one of its own kind!
Kaza is a sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti. Everything from daily needs to souvenir for friends are available here.Day 6. Visit mane, which is 45 km from Kaza. 3 hr hike to crystal lake at Mane. Home stay at Lobsang’s house.
Day 7 visit Komic and Langza via Hikkim. You can stay at Langza to experience some wonderful moments by star-gazing. One Can stay at lara home stay.
Day 8 visit Tashigang and Kibber via Key. you can stay at kibber or come back to kaza.
Day 9 Kaza to Chandertaal via Kunzum pass- 102 km
Day 10 Chandertal to Manali – 133 km
*(kunzum to Manali is 127 km)
Things you should definitely try at Spiti
- Eat local food and try to stay with local people instead at hotels. Almost every village has homestay.
- Few local dishes are – Momos, Thukpa, Alkyu, Thenthuk, Timmo, local green veggies, Sea Buckthorn tea and juice, Tsampa with curd or tea, butter tea.
- Lakes- at dhankar(1.30 hr hike), Mane(3 hr hike) and Chandrataal.
- Monasteries- Tabo, Dhanakar, Lalung, Khungri, Komic and Key
- Star gazing at Langza
- Camping at Chandrataal
- Retreat at Tashigang (half an hour trek) Tashigang Retreat (https://ektasingh10.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/tashigang-retreat/)
To my fellow travelers I would like to suggest further a few more things:
- Please do not litter. specially the plastic stuff, kindly carry an extra packet for your garbage.
- Be eco sensitive, do not waste water and other resources. There are many villages in Spiti which are facing water scarcity.
#Budget- 15k-20k, per head.
Few important contacts for a smooth stay and journey at Spiti valley.
- Guide Lara – High altitude Trek team- trans Himalaya, based at Kaza. Ph- 9418537689.
- Jeet, based at Tabo. One can contact him to book hotel or guest house at tabo. Ph- 8418984340
- Lobzang, homestay at Mane. ph- 9459313772
- Karan, Hotel Deyzor at Kaza. ph- 9418402660
- Phan Dhey home stay at Langza. Ph- 9418620454
Disclaimer: this article is not for advertising, it only aims at facilitating a smooth journey to Spiti. For further experiences you can read my previous blogs on Spiti Valley. However, the author does not guarantee the safety of the routes and especially the home stays. please do your due diligence before planning a tour. Travel safe!
*For further queries you can leave your queries in comment box.