Visit Spiti: A Detailed Guide To Planning Your Vacation in Spiti Valley (2021)
Spiti is a valley in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India and is one of the most beautiful destinations in northern India. Spiti valley is a cold desert mountain valley located in the north-eastern part of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name also has a distinct meaning. The name “Spiti” means “The middle land” which means it is the land between Tibet and India. Spiti valley is a paradise on earth and it will leave one wondering about the marvels of nature when you are here.
The place has a rich Buddhist influence and you will find many Buddhists residing here and there are beautiful monasteries here. There are Tibetan refuge settlements here and you can listen to the famous Buddhist chant “Om mani padme hun” in the air at this place. The weather at Spiti is cold throughout the year given the point that it is located at a very high attitude. The place has been attacked by many kings and kingdoms in ancient times and has been ruled by many rulers in history. Tourism has increased considerably in Spiti during the last two decades as the place has been discovered and traveled by backpackers and adventure seekers. You will be able to enjoy the beautiful moonscapes, scenic Himalayan lakes, highlands freckled greenery in the middle of the cold dessert.
The place is said to be blessed, nourished, and thriving by the prayers at the thousand years old monasteries located here. This is a perfect place where you can enjoy adventure activities, relax in the lap of nature. There cannot be a perfect getaway than Spiti if you want to enjoy nature in its purest form and calm your body, mind, and soul to live in the lap of nature for a few days away from the chaotic life.
How to Reach Spiti Valley?
Spiti valley lies on the Manali-Leh Highway and is separated from Kullu by Rohtang and Kunzum passes. There are two routes to connect the Spiti valley for you to make your journey to this heavenly place. The Manali-Leh highway is accessible to reach Spiti during the summers. However, this highway is blocked the rest of the year because of heavy snowfall. But you can take Shimla vis Kinnaur route to reach Spiti and it is accessible throughout the year. This is if you are having a road trip to Spiti which ideally is the best way to spend some time in this heaven and look at the views on your way. However, you can take a flight, train, or a road trip to Spiti. The options are mentioned below:
- By Air: The closest airport to Bir is in Bhuntar which is near Kullu airport, which is located at a distance of 35–40 kilometers away from Dharamshala. This is around 250 km from Spiti and you cannot get direct flights from many cities to this airport in India. The nearest international airport is Chandigarh airport which is around 550 km from Spiti. You can reach Chandigarh and take a connecting flight to Bhuntar airport and travel the rest of the journey via road. And you can book a taxi from the Chandigarh airport to Spiti which is quite a scenic drive and not to be missed.
- Trains: The nearest broad-gauge railway station closest to Spiti is in Chandigarh which is around 550 km from Spiti. Jogindernagar also has a railway station that is nearest to Spiti, but it has very poor connectivity. Honestly, traveling to Spiti via train is not an ideal option as it tires you and the connectivity is also poor. The best way to reach Spiti from Chandigarh is via road.
- Bus: Take a bus preferably Himachal Pradesh tourism from Delhi to Chandigarh. The Himachal state transport runs buses are available for both routes in summers, but it is advisable to take a bus through the Shimla-Kinnaur-Kaza route. Direct buses are available from Chandigarh, Shimla, Kullu, Manali, and some other parts of North India. You can take public transport from your city to reach Chandigarh and can get a direct bus to Spiti from here. There are many public and private buses running between Shimla and Kinnaur from 5 AM to 8 PM. You can also find overnight buses to Reckong Peo which is the headquarter of Kinnaur district and you can get these buses from the New Bus Stand as well as from the Old Bus Stand in Shimla.
- Taxi: Taxi is by far the easiest and the fastest way to reach Spiti from Chandigarh and probably the most comfortable as well. As you can stop and enjoy the view as per your comfort. It certainly is a little expensive at the same time as the average cost of a taxi from Shimla is around IMR 2500 – INR 3000 per day. And the prices depend on the season and your bargaining skills as well. You can also drive yourself to Spiti as many people choose these days. However, you should have some experience to drive on the steep mountain roads if you are planning to take your vehicle.
6 Amazing Attractions in Spiti:
Spiti valley is a hub of monasteries as the place is occupied by a majority of the Buddhist population. Adventure seekers also go to Spiti valley for hiking, camping, etc. as there are many hiking trails around the area. There is no need to mention that there are numerous picturesque spots in the valley as it is not some specific spots, but the entire valley is heavenly and breathtaking with majestic mountains blanketed in snow, mesmerizing landscapes, abundant trekking trails, ancient monasteries, and beautiful lakes. There are many places for you to see and enjoy in Spiti where you can enjoy your vacation in nature.
1. Chandratal Lake
Chandratal lake is a heavenly place but it is an unmatched paradise for adventure seekers and people who love to camp. It is a very popular camping site. It is said to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and is located at a height of 4300m in the Himalayas. It is situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau which overlooks the Chandra River. The name Chandratal has significance. The name “Chandra Taal” which means Lake of the Moon comes from its shape as this is a crescent-shaped lake. It is also one of two high-altitude wetlands of India and it attracts thousands of adventure enthusiasts from all over the world. The color of the water of this beautiful lake keeps changing from reddish to orange to blue to emerald green as the day ends. The lush green meadows around the lake offer a perfect camping site for the adventure seekers.
You will also see an array of different wildflowers during springtime around the lake. There are many hiking trails around the place and the hike from Batal to Chandratal is quite a tedious trail. The views this place offers, and the charms are worth visiting once in a lifetime. but the captivating views and charm of the place will be worth it.
2. Key Monastery
One of the most beautiful and important places to visit when in Spiti valley and the surrounding area is Key Monastery as it the biggest and oldest monastery in Spiti and attracts thousands of tourists. The place houses many ancient Buddhist books and murals which are historically and religiously important. The key monastery is also known as the Kye Monastery and Ki Monastery, it is believed to have been founded by Dromton, who was a student of the famous teacher Atisha in the 11th century. This monastery is also a very famous training center for the lamas. The monastery is over one thousand years old and about 300 lamas receive education from this pace every year.
3. Kunzum Pass
Kunzum passes also known as Kunzum la is one of the most famous and one of the highest motorable roads in India. It is located at a height of 4551 m above sea level. Kunzum La offers an incredible 360-degree view of Bara- Shigri Glacier which is the second-longest glacier in the world.
You can see a spectacular view of the Spiti valley from Kunzum pass. This awe-inspiring view of Kunzum Pass is a photographer’s dream and a must-visit place for others once in a lifetime.
4. Pin Valley National Park
As the name suggests Pin valley national park is situated in the famous pin valley. It is the home to the rare species of famous Himalayan snow leopards and Siberian Ibex whom the leopards’ prey on. The most famous attraction of Pin valley national park is the trek which is famous all around the world. But you need to get all the permits before you visit this place. Another point to note here is that the foreign nationals are not allowed in this park.
The national park is sprawled across an area of 675 sq km while its buffer zone is extended over almost 1150 sq km. There are more than 20 rare species of flora and fauna in the national park. This includes the endangered snow leopard which is the most significant inhabitant of Pin Valley Park.
5. Dhanker Lake and Dhanker Monastery
Just like other famous monasteries, the Dhanker monastery is one of the famous monasteries in Spiti and what makes this place more attractive is the Dhanker lake. This is a beautiful and breath-taking site one must not miss. It is a blessing to be at peace, and breathe in the cold air once and make memories of a lifetime.
Every place in Spiti and Lahaul is worth visiting. Everyone should come on a holiday here at this beautiful place at least once. Kibber is a small village, also known as Kyibar, which is located in the Spiti Valley at an altitude of 4270 meters in Himachal Pradesh. This beautiful village is surrounded by picturesque mountains and barren landscapes and is considered as the village located at maximum height on a motorable road.
The village is particularly famous for the local monastery and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Being at a high altitude, you can feel the fresh air in your lungs while breathing here. Another important fact about this place is that it has only 77 houses and around 350 people residing here.
Things To Do While You Are In Spiti:
Spiti valley is one of the most beautiful places to be in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. As the population of this place is very less, there are many lush green trails where you can have an adventurous hike and set your camp around the place. Here is a list of things you can do while visiting the Spiti valley.
Camping at Chandratal lake: One of the best things to do while in Spiti is to camp at Chandratal lake and enjoy the beautiful landscape and breathe fresh air and live in the lap of nature for a night.
Biking and Hiking in Nature: This is one of the best places to enjoy a bike ride. All you will hear is the sound of your bike in the cool thin air of the valley. If you are on a hiking trail, you will listen to the leaves rustling under your feet. It is quite an experience to be at Spiti valley.
Some of thee famous Hiking trails around Spiti valley are Pin Parvati trek, Dhankar lake trek, Chandratal lake trek, Baralacha pass, Kanamo Peak trek, Parang La trek, Pin Bhabha Trek and there are many more not so famous yet beautiful trails you can discover yourself while walking in this beautiful place.
Best Time To Visit Spiti Valley
The best time to visit Bir is during summers from March to June as the roads are almost clear during this period if you are planning a road trip. They say winters in Spiti are for the daring when the temperature drops below zero degrees and it gets really difficult to survive there without the centralized heating if you are not accustomed to living in a cold environment. The temperature during the summers is between 0 – 15-degree Celsius, which starts in March and lasts until June.
Places To Stay In Bir
Often known as the cold desert of India, you will see nude mountains and the majestic views of the valleys you have ever seen from the beautiful hotels in Spiti valley. There are several hotels and resorts to stay in Spiti valley and you can choose a place based on your budget. You can also choose from several homestays at this place that you will enjoy which will give you a comfortable vibe and homely feeling.
Make sure you book the place before visiting during the season because it gets really difficult to find accommodation if you land in the town without any arrangement to stay in summers.
Where to Eat in Spiti Valley?
All food you will eat in Spiti valley is clean and organic. You can enjoy the local pahadi food during your stay here. You will enjoy good Tibetan and local Chinese food at Spiti valley as most of the population residing in this area is Buddhist. You will have one of the best Tibetan meals in the valley.