For those of you who love the feel of cold weather, huge mountains and utmost peace, Spiti Valley makes for one of the best travel destinations. Located in the great Himalayas, Spiti Valley is one of the cold desert valleys in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The word ‘Spiti’ refers to ‘the middle land’, which signifies that the valley is situated in between India and Tibet. Isn’t it great that you get to experience both worlds by being in one place? But you must keep in mind that the road to Spiti Valley is one of the most dangerous roads you can ever come across.
Spiti Valley is a remotely located place and isn’t much travelled, but for those who’ve been there, it’s one of the most loved places to experience thrills, chills, and adventures. If you’ve not travelled to place before, you must do at least once in your life since doing so will give you an experience that’ll be cherished by you forever. However, before you plan your trip, you must keep in mind certain things in order to have a hassle-free trip.
How to reach Spiti Valley?
The serene and beautiful valley of Spiti is situated amidst the Great Himalayan mountains, which makes travelling a bit tricky. It is surrounded by an airport or a railway station nearby, which means you’ll have to change different modes of transportation. But, worry not. The place is much accessible, and I can bet you’re going to have an experience of a lifetime, be it even travelling! Well, here’s how you can reach the valley via different transportation modes. You can choose the route as per your comfort and ease and it will make you reach the magical place, nonetheless.
- By road:
You can reach the valley either by taking a road trip from Manali or Shimla. If you choose to go via the Manali route, you must cross Rohtang and Kunzam Pass whose entry is open mostly from June to the early days of October. But if you choose to via the Shimla route, you’ll have to go via the Kinnaur Valley. This route is accessible all throughout the year except for when there is much snowfall.
Himachal Pradesh state transport and many other private buses offer you with the ease of travelling from Manali. You can also rent cars and jeeps if you wish to drive by yourself and reach the valley. Here’s a map that would make reaching the Spiti Valley easy.
Manali route: Manali > Rohtang Pass > Gramphu > Chattu > Kunzam Pass > Kaza > Spiti Valley
Shimla route: Shimla > Kinnaur Valley > Kinnaur > Nako > Sumdo > Tabo > Kaza
Travelling by road to the valley is a bit risky since the Spiti Valley road is dangerous. But if you want to experience the beauty and serenity of nature around, this is one of the best modes of transport you can consider.
- By flight:
You can also travel by air if you want to take the shortest route possible. Since Spiti doesn’t have an airport of its own, the nearest one you can travel to is the one in Kullu, the Kullu Airport. It has a good connection of flights with all the important cities. You can further rent a taxi or a cab and reach the place. This journey is around 5 hours.
- By train:
If you like travelling by train, you can take one to either the Shimla railway station or Joginder Nagar railway station. These are the two stations that are near the valley. From the station, you can then rent a cab or take a bus and reach the place.
Places you must not skip visiting in Spiti Valley:
- Chandra Tal Lake
Named after it’s crescent moon shaped line, Chandra Tal Lake is one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Spiti. Surrounded by acres of snow and tranquil water, the lake is around 6km distant from Kunzam Pass. The lake stretches at about 2.5km and makes for a spectacular paradise for all the photography lovers. Also, if you wish to trek and camp, Chandra Tal Lake makes for the perfect destination. Don’t skip travelling to this place or you’ll miss out on the alluring beauty of nature!
- Tabo Monastery
Tabo Monastery is known amongst the most ancient places in Spiti. Consisting of about 9 Buddha and Tara temples, the monastery is also famous for the attractive paintings. You’ll be surprised to know that it was originated in the 10th century AD! Don’t forget to check out the huge wall paintings and scriptures when you visit the place!
- Langza Village
Langza Village is situated about 16km from Kaza when you travel northwards. It is one of the most scenic valleys and is known for its incredible prehistoric buildings, ancient monasteries and fascinating scenery. A huge Lord Buddha statue is known for guarding the village. A temple located just behind the statue is known to be more than 500 years old! Not only this, but the village also has dead remains and fossils of several marine animals and plants and is thereby visited frequently by anthropologists and historians.
- Pin Valley National Park
Ibex, the cold desert of Spiti Valley, features this beautiful Pin Valley National Park. If you adore different flora and fauna, you must visit the park. You’ll also get to witness a great variety of wild animals such as snow leopard, Tibetan gazelle, woolly hare and many more. Since the temperature here is usually cold and dry, you’ll get to see nature and animals that can withstand the climate, which you won’t find in any other place in the country.
- Komic Village
Located at a height of 18,000 feet above sea level, the Komic Village is one of the offbeat places to see in Spiti. The village became a famous tourist attraction since it amongst the highest villages in the world that features a road. The pristine surroundings and beauty of nature are what attracts the tourists. Komic monastery is a place you can visit here since it is utterly serene and pretty.
Things to know before planning your trip:
Travelling to Spiti valley is a bit different from travelling to most other destinations. There is certain preparation needed and you need to keep a few things in mind.
- Don’t take acclimatization easy and be prepared for a higher altitude
Since Spiti is located at a great altitude, it is obvious that there will be a lesser amount of oxygen. If higher altitudes don’t suit you, you may develop acute mountain sickness due to lack of oxygen. You can take the height gradually and get accustomed to it slowly, and it will ease out for your body. However, if you still have a sickness for altitude, you can carry a medicine called ‘Diamox’ along.
- Avoid drinking
Many of you might feel that drinking is essential when you are on a high altitude. The truth is, drinking alcohol might cause troubles even at an altitude and can give you a headache and hangover. And obviously, never drink and drive on the roads!
- Be extra-careful on the roads
I’m afraid to say this, but there are barely any good roads in the overall terrain of Spiti. You might have travelled a lot by roads or been on numerous road trips, but you must not be over-confident about these roads. The roads are narrow, full of stones, and covered by snow if you visit the place during winters. Drive slowly and carefully because a small mistake can lead your vehicle to go off the road and into the valley! It is a must that you be cautious if you decide to drive.
- Avoid rushing through the trip
Many people think that the entire trip to Spiti can be easily covered in a span of 4-5 days. Well, that’s not true at all. Most of your time will pass by in travelling and getting to the destination, and you’ll miss out on experiencing the beauty of nature. I recommend you plan your trip much in advance and spend at least 9 days. If you rush into finishing off with the trip it would increase the chances of unwanted accidents in the road trip.
- Carry enough warm clothes
Spiti Valley is cold all throughout the year and if you’re planning to visit the place during winters, you must think twice before doing so. The temperatures fall to upto -30°C which means you’ll have to layer yourself in the warmest clothes possible. Whenever you go, make sure you carry enough warm clothes, boots and everything you need to cover yourselves fully.
- Opt for homestay
Looking for a place to stay in Spiti can be quite challenging, but most of the people who’ve visited the place have chosen to stay inside the homes of the residents. The homes are generally tidy and clean, and people are welcoming and warm at heart too. A few years ago, not many people spoke Hindi, but now that’s not the case. If you are still uncomfortable, you can always choose the option to stay at a guest house.
Spiti Valley is one of ‘the road not taken’ kind of place which a lot of people aren’t aware of. But I must say, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Himachal Pradesh. Plan your trip well by keeping in mind these things and you’ll experience some of the most tranquil days of your life! It is one of a kind experience, beautiful, thrilling and exciting! Pack your bags and head straight to Spiti and you’ll thank me later!