Located in Himachal Pradesh, in a piece of land between India and Tibet, is a cold desert known as the Spiti Valley. It is widely known for its beautiful landscapes and rich culture of Buddhist traditions and attracts trekkers, nature lovers, and adventure enthusiasts worldwide. This charming travel destination in India boasts pristine rivers, snow-capped mountains, green meadows, monasteries, and small pockets of beautiful villages. If you plan a trip to the Spiti Valley, this article will tell you everything you need to know.
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How to Reach Spiti?
There are two ways to reach the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh – from Manali or Shimla.
- Manali: On this route, the nearest airport is at Kullu, where you can take a taxi or a bus to Spiti. The journey to Spiti would be roughly 12 hours by road. You can also reach Manali using overnight Volvo buses from Chandigarh and Delhi. Although there is no direct train to Manali, you can use one to reach Chandigarh and then take a 9-hour cab to Manali.
- Shimla: On this route, the nearest airport is in Chandigarh. You can then take a bus or a taxi to Spiti, which will take you through Shimla, Manali, and other great destinations. If you want to cover the Sangla valley, Rohtang pass, Kunzum pass, and Chattru in your travels, this route can be a great option.
When to go?
Before traveling to Spiti Valley, you must know which months you can visit this beautiful valley. Spiti is cut off from the world for almost half a year as the thick Himalayan snow moves vehicles near impossible in the mountain passes. Even the Shimla-Kinnaur route becomes challenging to travel. The best times to visit Spiti are May to September, as the snow gradually melts and softens up to expose the valley’s beauty. Winters in Spiti can be pretty tricky, as the temperatures can drop to almost -30 degrees Celsius. However, the locals endure by stocking up on food and liquor and participating in various festivities to spend their time. The most extraordinary travelers can only explore this part of Spiti.
Things to do when you are traveling to Spiti Valley
Spiti Valley offers many adventures and attractions to its visitors. Here are some of the things that you must include in your travels.
1. Camping at the Chandratal Lake
Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, 14,000 ft above the mean sea level, is one of the gorgeous lakes in the Spiti Valley – the Chandratal Lake. Camping here can be an experience as it will allow you to explore nature at its finest. If you are fortunate enough, you might also get a chance to see the Milky Way galaxy in the night sky. Just remember to pack warm clothes as the temperatures drop drastically at night.
2. Dhankar Monastery and Dhankar Lake
If you seek an adventure, you must include the Dhankar Lake trek in your plan. The mesmerizing lake is atop a 4,270-meter-high cliff above the Dhankar Monastery. The hike takes around 2 hours to complete but is well worth the effort when you see the magnificent views of the lake and snow-clad mountains.
3. Key Monastery
Located near the Spiti River is a Tibetan Buddhist community called Key Gompa, which is a must-visit monastery when you plan your Spiti travels. Built sometime in the 11th century, it is widely known as one of the most significant and most established monasteries in the Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal.
4. Highest Post Office in the World
Located in Hikkim at an elevation of 4,389 meters, you would find the highest post office in the world. You can reach it can be easily from Kaza via a vehicle. This is a must-visit spot owing to its uniqueness. Don’t forget to mail a letter to a loved one from this post office when you get a chance to visit.
5. Visit the Pin Valley National Park
The Pin Valley National Park is famous for being the home of the Himalayan snow leopard. Travelers from around the world visit this park to glimpse the beautiful Himalayan Ghost cat. This park can be easily accessed by road, and with the Rupi Bhabha Sanctuary located close by, you would be able to cover two parks in one go.
Do you require a permit to enter Spiti Valley?
Although international tourists require a permit to visit certain places in the valley, Indian tourists can travel freely. The only exception is the Rohtang Pass, for which both Indian and international travelers require a permit, documentation, and identification to enter.
With this, we have covered everything there is to know about traveling to the Spiti Valley. Remember to prepare well for your travels, as a visit to this region requires a lot of planning. Mobile connectivity can also become a problem as you proceed higher into the mountains, so it would be wise to keep that in mind.