When 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 miles. But then also if you have a crunch of time than let me help you in doing that a bit for you please. So you can plan as follows:
Best Time to visit Spiti Valley:-
First, the timing of your trip is most important and as Spiti Valley is accessible through high mountains and deep valleys which usually can not be traveled throughout the year so the best time to visit the valley in Mid April to August but if you can avoid July it will be better as the heavy rains on the way can cause roadblocks.
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 daily basis ferrying from Kaza to Rohtang Pass and in the opposite way 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 Winter season here and let me clear that winter here in 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 Lossar. So its 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 center and last stop for tourists and from Kaza, travelers 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
→→ one is via Delhi-Chandigarh-Manali-Lossar-Kaza
This route is a bit not comfortable for them who are prone to motion and mountain sickness as this route has a sharp increase in height along the way.
→→ second is Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla-Narkanda-Rampur-Reckong Peo-Chango–Kaza
This route has a gradual increment of the height along the way. Spiti valley is almost at a height of 3800 Meters approximately, so persons prone to Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS) must go for the second route.
Buses from state transport are available between Kullu to Kaza and Shimla to Kaza and back but are very less in frequency. The Bus departs daily from Kaza at 0700 AM & 0700 PM to Shimla while the bus from Shimla to Kaza departs at 0400 AM & 0600 AM 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 Bus from Manali to Kaza departs from Manali at 0500 & 0530 AM on a daily basis. Fare of the bus is at 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:
Nearest Railway Station 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.
Nearest Airport 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 than you have to head toward the Nearest Airport in Kullu which is Bhuntar Airport at 250 Km from Kaza. One has to go to reach Kaza from Kullu airport through Manali and Lossar using privately hired vehicles from Kullu or 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 till Kaza the road conditions are not good and you have to be very slow if going on personal vehicles or Bike.
Then come to the worst and dangerous roads of the world from Kaza to Rohtang Pass on the return way to Manali and be assured that if you are coming by bus then be ready for rock n roll and if coming by personal vehicle or Bikes and driving than ready to be a perfect driver if you are and if not so good in driving then please these roads are not meant for you to drive and to exploit your skills here. Then from Manali to Chandigarh roads are much comfortable except 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 which 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.
One 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 rest 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 around 2000 people as habitats 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 also Banking and other essential services are available here. Kaza is the only place after Rampur till 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 your vehicle from Rampur till Manali except some minor habitats where you will get fuel only from shops 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 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 to explore are villages like Hikkim, Komik, and Langja which are remote villages and are on the International Border of Indo-China.
Tabo is a village en route Rekong 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 Apple Orchid 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 center for attraction to tourists and caves are found on the Monastery and founded in ancient times. It is believed that caves were used by Monks for meditation for years in these caves remotely. 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 only and situated at 140 Km distance from Rekong Peo. The village is some 2 Km sideway on branching road from the road connecting Rekong 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 can reach Kaza that means you can easily reach Langza, so time to visit here is the same as of Kaza or Spiti Valley. You will find a massive Budhha statue-like 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 same Oceanic process. That is the reason, fossils of the marine animals actually present in Tethys sea that time is found nowadays in the village. So if you start digging somewhere in and around the village, it is not an amazement thing if you come across fossil remains of marine animals. But we must know and respect the archeological 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 one can travel from Kaza and have a tour to Langza.
Local people in Langza and surrounding villages are selling the fossils of the marines dating back to the Jurassic era, and nowadays travelers start making purchases of those and taking to their home. It resulted in the extinction of the fossils and so I request all my fellow travelers to please not buy these fossils remain instead go for mud replica of the remains.
# Pin Valley National Park
Pin Valley is formed by the Pin River which originates from 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.
Wildlife sanctuary founded in 1987 named Pin Valley National Park is situated in this beautiful valley and Snow Leopard is believed to exist here only 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 them will lead to the famous Parvati Valley and pilgrimage site Manikaran Sahib through Pin Parvati Pass. while other track will lead you to Bhawa valley into Kinnaur.
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. Total 38 Km of distance passing from the Gulling, Kingri, Mikkim, and Mud villages. Mud village is the start and endpoint for the trekking to Bhawa and Pin Parvati pass and at a distance of 52 Km from Kaza.
Road to the Mud village is not a tarred one but quite OK if you are good at driving, but the mesmerizing location of Pin valley will stress you out. You can also 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.
Chandertaal is a sweet water lake situated in the dry desert of Spiti Valley at an altitude of 4200 Meters. Chandertaal is named from the shape of the lake as the moon and, it is a perfect camping and trekking destination to adventure lovers.
Hotels in Spiti Valley:-
While going from Chandigarh to Shimla en routes one can get accommodation at cheap prices to stay at Shimla, Theog, Narkanda, Rampur, Sangla/Chitkul, Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Spillow, Pooh, Nako, Tabo, Kaza, Lossar, Manali. Please be mentally aware that except Shimla, Rampur, and Manali all other destinations are small in size so you should not expect five-star facilities there.
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.
So it is my humble advice to all that if anyone planning to travel from Kaza to Manali in one day then please either left Kaza as early as possible so that can cross dangerous stretch at least in daytime till Rohtang Pass and after that can easily approach to Manali or have camping arrangements for Chandertaal and if not then one can find PWD Rest House at Batal and Gramphu/Chhatru but there is no surety that one will get room to stay there, as the rush is always there, but one can get a small Dhaba type in Chhatru 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 for it. But if anyone is highly choosy and expecting the same foods which you can get in plain areas like Dhabas and Hotels than I am sorry you are in the wrong place. You will get food which can make you feed to stay healthy and alive 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 traveling and also rain wears are also must as rains are not frequent but expected anytime so one should have his /her arrangements.
As medical facilities are very rare from Rampur to Kaza and Kaza to Manali so one must have at least minimum required tablets/drugs with them such as pain relief, headache, cold and flu, etc
Finally, the trip to Spiti valley is full of mesmerizing locations and scenes, attractions on the way, and the most beautiful thing I noticed in this trip was that while on way from Shimla to Kaza then Manali to Chandigarh you will go all along the riverside of river Satluj till Kaza and then will come back along river Beas. So please carry good quality camera and storage devices with you to store your memory forever.
Note: if anyone wants to have a clear vision of starry nights than 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 Chandertaal and Dhatru where one can halt and have a glimpse of the clear starry sky.
Services Available in Spiti Valley :
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,
Plan a week-long trip as–
Chandigarh-Shimla-Narkanda- Reckong Peo-Kaza-Pin Valley-Lossar-Manali-Chandigarh
Nearby destinations to Spiti Valley to enjoy:-
* Reckong Peo 200 Km
* Manali 200 Km
* Shimla 450 Km
* Keylong 185 Km
* Narkanda 350Km
General points should abide by:-
* Don’t throw Plastic and spoil the beauty of Hill station.
* Please left this beauty for our next generation to enjoy as well.
* Carry sufficient Cash in hand which will save you from some situations where no card facility exists.
* Try to taste local foods wherever you go.
* Be polite with serving staff.
* If time and your will permit please help locals to collect garbages thrown over there by visitors like us so that we can think to plan same destination again
At the end don’t forget
* To take your Camera + addition batteries + memory cards to allow you to capture memorable moments forever without any glitches.
* Wherever need please hire local guides.
* Try to enjoy the time there and don’t just keep clicking images unnecessary.