Spiti valley is a heaven for lovers of cold desert valley, meadows, pine forests and adventurous driving. It is situated at the Indo Tibet border in the Himachal Pradesh district of India. Having an altitude of above 12500 feet, Spiti valley offers magnificent views and ancient culture for you to enjoy. If you are planning for a nice location such as Spiti Valley, please don’t plan for a short trip, as in a short time you will be busy calculating distances. But then also if you have a crunch of time, please let me help you in planning a trip to this magnificent Spiti valley.
Spiti Valley is famous for
Spiti valley is a combination of two regions namely Lahaul and Spiti and this geographical beauty attracts many tourists every year because of its fascinating and adventurous meadows. This valley has an age-old culture and tradition with people mainly following Buddhism. Hence, you can easily see ancient yet well-preserved monasteries in every village. Villages in the valley are least populated with strength from 20 to 200, having Kaza as their most populous hub acting as the centre of the valley. Along with the beautiful monasteries and ancient culture, you can have a glimpse of the amazing Chandratal lake and Pin Valley national park enroute while passing through yet another majestic entrance of Kunzum Pass.
Best Time to visit Spiti Valley:-
The timing of your trip is important and Spiti Valley is accessible through high mountains and deep valleys which usually cannot be travelled throughout the year. Spiti is a cold desert valley that is subjected to an extremely cold temperature during all seasons. But in the year, the summer season remains friendly for travel as the temperature in this season rises from freezing sub-zero to 15 degrees in the daytime.
April to June End & Mid-August to September End is the summer season and it is the best time to explore the valley and its unmatched beauty. Bikers generally prefer this season to visit the Valley and you can find a lot of Bikers on a daily basis ferrying from Kaza to Rohtang Pass and in the opposite direction as well.
July to Mid-August is the Monsoon Season and if possible can be avoided as Roadblocks and landslides can cause discomfort and harm to the journey and spoil the trip as well.
October to March is the winter season here and let me clear that winter here in the Valley is rough and quite chilled. So negligible options are found in the way to halt and rest except major destinations en route like Narkanda, Rampur, Spillow, Chango, Tabo, Kaza, and Losar. So it’s better to plan accordingly and if you really want to enjoy the chilled weather then only I will recommend it.
How to reach Spiti Valley:-
Spiti Valley has Kaza as the main market centre and last stop for tourists and from Kaza; travellers can plan their journey back. There are a lot of things to see and do in and around Kaza which I will discuss in a short while in the same blog. Valley is connected to the rest of India via Road only and there are two routes which one can adopt to travel
First Route to Spiti Valley is via
This route is not comfortable for those who are prone to motion and mountain sickness as this route has a sharp increase in altitude along the way.
The second Route to Spiti Valley is via
This route has a gradual increment of the height along the way. Spiti valley is at a height of 3800 Meters approximately, so persons prone to Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS) should take the second route. Buses of state transport are available between Kullu to Kaza and Shimla to Kaza but are very less in frequency. The Bus departs daily from Kaza at 0700 AM to Manali & 0700 PM to Shimla while the bus from Manali to Kaza departs at 0400 AM & 0630 PM from Shimla. The bus reaches Shimla via Narkanda, Rampur, and Nako.
The Bus from Kaza to Manali departs daily from Kaza at 0400 AM while the Bus from Manali to Kaza departs from Manali at 0530 AM on a daily basis. The fare of the bus is around 400 Rs and it takes around 11 hours to reach Manali via Kunzum Pass and Rohtang Pass. For more information on the timing and schedule of buses that keep on changing due to prevailing weather there at Kaza, you can contact at 01902-252323 which is the contact number of Manali Bus Depot, and additionally can click on the official website by simply clicking:
By Train to Spiti Valley :
There is no direct Railway connectivity to reach Spiti Valley however, the nearest railway station is at Joginder Nagar (345Km) and at Shimla (422 Km). It will take another 8 Hours from Joginder Nagar and 10 Hours from Shimla to Reach Valley via Taxi. You can easily fetch privately hired vehicles to reach Kaza from both the cities or from Manali as well.
By Flight to Spiti Valley:-
There is no direct connectivity of Flights to reach Spiti Valley or Kaza from any city of India. If you are planning to travel by air then you have to reach the Nearest Airport in Kullu (Bhuntar Airport) at 250 Km from Kaza. You can reach Kaza from Kullu airport through Manali and Lossar using privately hired vehicles. Alternatively, in summer, you can catch the state-run bus from Manali to Kaza operating daily at 0500 AM from Manali.
Condition of Road to Spiti Valley:-
If you are going via the second route then you will find quite good roads till Rampur except for some minor hitches. After Rampur to Kaza, the road conditions are not good and you have to be very slow if going on personal vehicles or bikes.
Then come to the worst and dangerous roads of the world from Kaza to Rohtang Pass on the return way to Manali. Be assured that if you are coming by bus then be ready for rock n roll. And if you are coming by personal vehicle or Bikes and if you are not so good at driving then these roads are not meant for you to drive and to show your skills. Then from Manali to Chandigarh roads are much more comfortable except for some loops.
Things to do in Spiti Valley:
There are many destinations available for an adventurous lover and Traveler if you are comfortable with a lot of traveling. Spiti Region is famous for its Monasteries and Monastery is the place or Spiritual center where Buddhist thoughts and Beliefs are taught and learned and practiced by Monks.
# Dhankar Gompa:
It is a small village at a height of 3800 meters and actually an ancient monastery that was founded in the 12th Century. It was the capital of the Kingdom at Spiti during the 17th Century known as Nonos. New Monastery is built in the village named Shichilling (8 Km) which has a strength of more than 100 Monks. Dhankar Gompa is located at a 300-meter spur where the confluence of River Spiti and Pin River took place. Dhankar means Fort in Local language and the Monastery actually used to protect Valley from outside invasion in ancient times by Spitians.
You can hire a Taxi (Approx. 800 Rs for one side journey) or can Opt for Government Bus to reach Dhankar from Tabo or Kaza. Two Buses from each location are available to reach the Shichilling village. From Shichilling village, the remaining 8 Km distance can trek up to Dhankar Gompa.
Kaza is the most populous settlement in the Spiti Valley and it acts as an Administrative HQ for the Valley since ancient times. Kaza has a population of around 2000 people and the small hamlet has one main street which leads to the market. In the market, there are some good restaurants available for Dining and Banking and other essential services are also available here. Kaza is the only place after Rampur to Manali where you can get all the required services available.
The world’s highest Fuel station is stationed here and it is the only place where you can refuel in your vehicle from Rampur to Manali. You can get fuel in loose bottles while passing through some minor habitats provided you have containers with you to store.
Key Monastery which is situated at a distance of 8 Km from Kaza in Kibber Village is a major tourist attraction and it is an example of great architecture from ancient times. It was founded in the 11th century and is located at an altitude of 4000 meters on the bank of the Spiti River. It is the biggest Monastery of the Valley region and religious training and preaching center for Monks.
Key Monastery has a collection of Buddhist Images and books related to the Buddhists Culture. Other destinations near Kaza are villages like Hikkim, Komik, and Langja which are remotely located and are on the International Border of Indo-China.
Tabo village is situated en route from Reckong Peo to Kaza on the bank of river Spiti. It is the largest area covering the maximum Buddhist complex in it with Nine Temples. Tabo has an Apple Orchard located in between the cold desert area.
Tabo is known as the oldest Buddhist enclave in India and the Himalayan region. Tabo Monastery was founded in the year 996. Tabo caves are the main centre for attraction to tourists and caves in the monastery belong to ancient times. It is believed that caves were used by Monks for meditation for years. Some of the caves are still being used in case of harsh winter by Monks as assembly halls. Tabo caves can be clearly seen from the Tabo village itself.
Tabo on the bank of river Spiti can be reached by Taxi or Bus and is situated 48 Km away from Reckong Peo. The village is some 2 Km sideway on a branching road from the main road connecting Reckong Peo to Kaza.
# Langza Village:
Langza village is the remotest village in the Spiti Valley and located at an altitude of 4400 Meters. It is just 18 Km from Kaza which is the center of Lahaul & Spiti. If you have reached Kaza, that means you can easily reach Langza. The time to visit here is the same as in Kaza or Spiti Valley. You will find a massive Budhha statue guarding this small hamlet.
This village is famous for ancient Geographical events attached to it, as it is believed that Langza and surrounding villages were submerged under Tethys Ocean during the Oceanic process. That is the reason, that fossils of the same marine animals are found nowadays which were actually present in Tethys sea at that time. So if you start digging somewhere in and around the village, it is not an amazing thing if you come across fossil remains of marine animals. But we must know and respect the archaeological and geographical importance of villages to our Nation.
There is nothing much to do in Langza except to live and experience the thousand-year-old culture of Spitians. Some Homestays are built here in Langza to reside at night otherwise you can travel from Kaza and have a tour to Langza in the daytime.
Local people in Langza and surrounding villages are selling the fossils of marine animals dating back to the Jurassic era, and nowadays travellers start making purchases of those and taking them to their home. It resulted in the extinction of the fossils and so I request all my fellow travellers to please not buy these fossil remains instead purchase the mud replica of the remains.
# Pin Valley National Park
Pin Valley is formed by the Pin River which originates from the Kungri glacier. The river runs across the valley before merging with the Spiti river and There are around 16 to 17 villages in the Pin valley which has a population of approximately 1700.
The wildlife sanctuary was founded in 1987 and named Pin Valley National Park. The national park is situated in this beautiful valley and Snow Leopard is believed to exist only here in India. This national park is also home to several other endangered species of animals like Red Fox, Golden Eagle and many more. There are some tough trekking options available in the Pin Valley for adventure lovers. One of the treks out of them will lead to the famous Parvati Valley and pilgrimage site Manikaran Sahib through Pin Parvati Pass. Bhawa valley into Kinnaur is another famous trek that originates from this valley.
The road to Pin Valley bifurcated from the main road between Kaza and Dhankar just near to Attargo Bridge. As the road is crossed using the Attargo bridge, a straight road leads to Pin Valley on the right bank of river Pin. This road has a length of 38 Km passing through the Gulling, Kingri, Mikkim, and Mud villages. Mud village acts as the origin or last point for the trekking to Bhawa and Pin Parvati pass and is situated at a distance of 52 Km from Kaza.
Road to the Mud village is not a cemented one but quite OK if you are good at driving, but the mesmerizing location of Pin valley will take out your stress. You can reach Pin Valley using state transport, as the bus starts from Kaza to Mud village at 4 PM daily. If you missed the bus, don’t worry you can share the taxis from both Kaza and Dhankar at a marginal rate of 80 to 90 Rs. There are quite simple but lots of options available in the Pin Valley to reside and enjoy the park and valley.
Chandratal is a sweet water lake situated in the dry desert of Spiti Valley at an altitude of 4200 Meters and it is actually a heaven for trekkers and bikers. Chandratal is named from the shape of the lake as the moon and it is a perfect camping and trekking destination for adventure lovers. This pristine lake of Chanratal can be reached by drive from Batal or by trekking from the beautiful Kunzum Pass. You can further trek up to another beautiful lake known as Surajtaal from here and you can take an exit through Ladakh highway to Manali.
Hotels in Spiti Valley:-
There are enough options available for you to reside while planning a trip to Spiti Valley and you can book your stay here. Spiti Valley has enough options to reside and you can book cheap hotels online or offline while payments can be done through all available methods of Plastic money like Credit cards and others. There are many deluxe and luxury hotels also available in close proximity of (within 1 km) of the main town of Kaza where you can choose your stay.
From Kaza to Manali, once Losar gets crossed then till Manali, it is very tough to find good accommodation in between for around 180 Kms OR SO. The road from Lossar to Manali is also very dangerous and driving here is risky which is not a cup of cake for everybody. Besides having their own camping arrangements at Chandratal lake, you can stay at Batal and Dhatru.
From Kaza to Manali, once Lossar gets crossed than till Manali, it is very tough to find a stay in between for around 180 Kms OR SO. Above that, the road to this distance is very dangerous and risky, except at Chandertaal where one can have their own camping arrangements.
It is my humble advice to fellow travellers that if anyone is planning to travel from Kaza to Manali in one day, then you must leave Kaza early and drive a bit smooth but carefully so that you should be able to cross Rohtang Pass by evening. Because the road stretch from Losar to Rohtang Pass is very dangerous and you have to be very careful in your driving. Or else you must reside at Batal or can camp at Chandratal lake. There is one PWD Rest House at Batal and Gramphu/Chhatru each, but there is no surety that you will get accommodated, as the rush is always there. But you can get a small Dhaba type in Chhatru and Batal, where you can get Bed at 200 bucks to spend the night.
Food in Spiti Valley:-
One can easily get food throughout the route and there is not at all any problem with it. But if anyone is choosy and expects the food of plain areas like Dhabas and Hotels then I am sorry you are at the wrong place. You will get food which is healthy but not as per your taste. But one can get Maggie, Egg items, etc throughout the route.
Must Carry items to Spiti Valley:-
The temperature in mountains usually dips to the sub-zero or very low range at night time so one must have proper winter clothing with him while travelling. You should also have rainwear with you, as rains are not frequent but expected anytime. As medical facilities are very rare from Rampur to Kaza and Kaza to Manali so one must have at least a small travel medicine kit with you every time containing basic medicines.
Note: if anyone wants to have a clear vision of starry nights then a trip to Spiti Valley is best for you. From Kaza to Manali, there is a perfect destination for watching a breathtaking view of a clear sky named Chandratal and Dhatru where one can halt and have a glimpse of the clear starry sky.
Services Available in Spiti Valley :
As far as availability of services enroute Kaza is concerned, you can not find any of the services enroute except main towns like Kaza, Rampur and Reckong. Services like Mobile network, Bank or ATM, Hospital, Pharmacy, Automobile repair shops, Police station, courier are available in these towns only. You can find hotels or homestays en rote in other locations as well like in Tabo, Spillow, Puh etc.
1. Mobile network —— yes but of selected network
2. Bank/ATM —————-yes
3. Hospital —————— No
4. Pharmacy/Medicals ——Yes
5. Restaurants ————-Yes
6. Bars —————————Yes Liquor shop is also available
7. Automobile/Vehicle Repair ——Yes
8. Courier facility ——Yes
9. Massage & Spa plus Saloons. —— No
10. Police Station ——Yes
11. Parking space —– yes at selected locations
12 Fuel Station —– yes,
You can plan your trip as–
Nearby destinations to Spiti Valley to enjoy:-
* Reckong Peo 200 Km
* Manali 200 Km
* Shimla 450 Km
* Keylong 185 Km
* Narkanda 350 Km
Small but Effective Tips
⇒ Please adhere to simple but effective travel safety tips.
⇒ While planning trekking, you must go through 6 basic trekking tips.
⇒ Food and other required stuff are priced heavily at the isolated locations, hence it is recommended to carry sufficient stock.
⇒ Carry sufficient water and chocolates along in the trek to keep yourself energetic. Please keep filling your reusable water bottles from the waterfalls and streams you are going to cross during the trek. It will save your pocket and also it will save the environment in another way.
⇒ Don’t litter the place around you while at the peak or during the trekking, it is our moral duty to respect mother nature.
⇒ You must have enough cash available with you as there may be a non-availability of an ATM. Hence you should carry enough cash along with you prior.
⇒ No mobile network is available at the peak
⇒ You must carry a small travel medical kit with you on every trip to make you safe from small infections and allergies.
⇒ Try to have minimal weight in your backpack because a heavy load at the back can cause discomfort while trekking. You can go through a helpful guide to backpack for travel.
⇒Don’t throw Plastic and spoil the beauty of Hill station ( and U know Distilled water, Cold Drink Bottles are the main culprit)
⇒Please left this beauty for our next generation to enjoy as well
⇒Try to taste local foods wherever you go
⇒Be polite with serving staff
⇒If time and your will permit, please help locals collect garbage thrown over there by visitors like us so that we can plan the same destination again.
⇒Hotels can be checked online but if possible please visit Hotel personally and then only proceed for payment (especially in the Offseason). If possible book your hotel using Plastic money like Credit Card or Debit Card.
⇒Check your Hotel room for any suspicious things like a Camera and all as frauds are on the peak so Don’t compromise with your personal safety.
⇒To take your Camera + additional batteries + memory cards to allow you to capture memorable moments forever without any glitches.
⇒Wherever needed please, Hire local Guides.
⇒Try to enjoy the time there and don’t just keep clicking images unnecessarily.