• Venkatesh Bhandare

A Complete Travel Guide to Spiti Valley

Updated: May 30



“Spiti is the change that has gone deep and permanent! ”

I spend most of my time scrolling through Instagram posts and stalking profiles of people who are obsessed with travel. I came across many pictures of the Buddha Statue and the Key Monastery, which belong to this valley. Since technology now let’s you deep dive to pictures through a hashtag, I thought of checking #spiti. I was amazed with its beauty and determined to visit it. While most friend groups would prefer travelling to Goa for domestic travel, I along with my friends decided to go to Spiti in Himachal Pradesh.


Do you dream of cold desert and mountains, extending as far as you can see? This is that magical land with wind-swept mountains and valleys, which not just fascinate you but also amuses you of God’s creation! Novelist Rudyard Kipling has described Spiti as “A PLACE WHERE GODS LIVE”. But Spiti, as it is illustrated, means “THE MIDDLE LAND”. Spiti is located in the north western part of Himachal Pradesh.


There are two roads that you can take to reach Spiti valley. The Manali-Kaza route is roughly 200 km and takes almost 11-12 hours to cover, provided there is no snow, rain or landslides. You cross two mountain passes - Rohtang Pass after Manali and the Kunzum Pass later as you close down to the valley. The second starts from Shimla and goes to the valley via Kalpa- Kinnaur region.


TIP: The only mobile network which works there is BSNL. You can carry a sim card, get one from the Kaza market or actually WANDER WHERE THE WIFI IS WEAK without one!


Below are the places I visited in Spiti Valley:


Kaza:

It was a pleasure interacting with the friendly locals and children of the Navodaya School. Kaza is the administrative headquarters of the Spiti Valley with the majority of people staying here and it is well connected with the other key places. It has a couple of cafes and restaurants to chill at and a marketplace. You will also find a bank and ATM here. Also the mobile operator shop to buy your BSNL sim card if you haven’t got it with you. The

World's Highest Petrol Pump is located in Kaza. There is no dearth of hostels and homestays

here.



Hikkim:

The feeling of sending a hand written post card from a place where the network is almost near to zero is far more amazing than sending a simple text message. India has the largest postal network in the world with around 1,55,000 post offices and more than 4,00,000 employees, but that's not it. Indians can brag about the World's Highest Post Office!! Yes, this is located at 15,000 feet in Hikkim and falls under the Lahaul - Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. It is run by a very friendly and enthusiast postmaster, Rinchen Chhering. The pincode of the same is 172114. Most of the people who visit Spiti send home these postcards and trust me, this is one of the best memories that will stay with you.


TIP: You can carry a postcard or buy one there, but make sure you have the complete address of the people you wish to surprise by sending a post card!


Key Monastery:

I'm sure you might have come across a similar picture before. The famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery located on a picturesque hilltop, is one of the most attractive places and the largest monastery in Spiti. You don’t just vibe with the prayers and chants that echo around here but can take your mind to another trance level. You will have a great time talking to the kids here and playing with them.



Komic:

Komic is a must visit because of two reasons - to dine at the World's Highest Restaurant and to see the Tangyud Monastery. Right from the Spiti Sandwich to the Sea-buckthorn juice, you shouldn’t miss out on anything. My taste buds still crave that taste. At the Tangyud Monastery you will come across a stuffed snow leopard, which has been preserved for many years now. Komic also happens to be the World's Highest Motorable Village.



Langza:

It is believed by the locals that this valley was completely submerged under the Tethys sea and so you will find many fossils here which are around a million years old. Langza is hence also known as the Fossil Village. You will also find a huge Buddha statue here which makes Langza a mandatory visit while in the valley.



Pin Valley National Park:

Established in 1987, Pin Valley is the slightly greener patch of Spiti Valley which is known to be rich for the flora and fauna. It is believed to be home to many medicinal species of plants as well as some extinct animals.



Kungri Monastery:

The Kungri Monastery happens to be the second oldest Monastery in Lahaul and Spiti Valley. Believed to have been built in the early 14th century, this is the only Monastery which belongs to the Nyingma sect or order of Buddhism which is known to be the oldest order in Tibetan Buddhism. It’s main attraction is the festival which conducts “Devil Dance” along with some other dances and plays. This festival takes place in the month of July



Kunzum Pass:

Kunzum pass connects the Lahaul valley and the Spiti valley. It is named after the Kunzum Mata temple located at the pass. The road to Chandratal lake starts from here. Due to heavy rainfall in the Himalayan range this pass remains close for around 6-8 months at times. It mostly opens up in summers which is around mid or end of June.


TIP: It is usually cold at the Kunzum pass and Chandratal if you are visiting early summers and so should wear or carry warm clothes.


Chandratal:

Chandra-Tal means “Moon Lake”, a crescent-shaped beautiful and blue lake located North of Kunzum Pass. This is the most beautiful place that I have been to and is not less than any dreamland. It is on the bucket list for almost all travelers as they seek the abundant beauty of this place. The best time to visit this lake is from July to October.


"Spiti is a world within a world" - Rudyard Kipling, Kim

Spiti Valley is a gem that one should not miss and visit this beautiful place at least once in a lifetime. You can thank me later. Cheers!


In case you have any questions related to Spiti Valley or need help planning a trip, you can contact me. I'll be glad to help you.

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Namaste! I’m Venkatesh. I always wanted to share pictures and stories of the places I visit, the people I meet and things I do to keep myself motivated.

 

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