Spiti - Trekking Mecca And A Virgin Paradise:- Famous for its splendid views and untouched natural beauty, Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan culture, Spiti is a destination for trekkers, hikers - only the string hearted.
The Lahaul and Spiti district comprises of both the valleys which are separated by Kunzum pass.
One of the most undiscovered destinations, Spiti or Spiti valley is situated at a very high altitude in the eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. The terrain of Spiti Valley is highly difficult and the entire region becomes completely isolated during the winters.
A visit to Spiti would remain incomplete without visiting the monasteries here. The Ki/Key Monastery and the Dhankar Monastery are must-visits. For adventure enthusiasts, there are a few trekking trails and mountain biking routes that they must go for. The Chandratal lake and Surajtal lakes are some of the most beautiful lakes in the world and are among the highest lakes in the world. Number of festivals are celebrated with a lot of fervor, which includes burning of the devil, chaam dance and Pauri festival in this region.
- Best Time To Visit Spiti
This region experiences summer season during the months of May to October and the temperature ranges from 0 to 15 degrees Celcius. This is the best time to visit Spiti. Winters are very cold over here and should be avoided. The road connectivity is also unreliable during the winters with Manali-Kaza highway being cut-off.
- Summer (March - June) This is the best for a visit to this destination, with the temperatures rarely dropping below 15 degrees Celcius. The days are hot but pleasant if you are visiting in the months of May and June. This is the best time for trekkers and campers, and hence also becomes the peak season for traveling to Kaza.
- Monsoon (July - September) Although the monsoon season receives moderate to heavy rainfall, this is not exactly the best time to visit Spiti, owing to the frequent downpours and dangerous landslides.
- Winter (October - February) Beginning from October, the winter season is the least advisable time for a visit to Spiti, owing to extremely chilly temperature and inhospitable roads.The roads connecting Spiti Valley to the rest of India are blocked most of the time in this season.
- Upcoming Events in Spiti
Activity: Mountain Biking
(July - September)
Among the highest biking tours in the world, experience the surreal beauty of the Spiti Valley, while being one with nature, on the back of a mountain bike.
- How To Reach Spiti
The Rohtang pass and Kunzum pass separate Lahaul and Spiti from Kullu and it lies on the Manali-Leh highway. This route is fine to reach Spiti valley during the summers, but due to heavy snowfall, it is inaccessible for most parts of the year. However, Spiti valley is accessible throughout the year though from Shimla via Kinnaur (except for occasional disturbances due to landslides or heavy snowfall). The buses through both routes in summers, are run by the Himachal state transport, however just a bus through the Shimla-Kinnaur-Kaza route.
The nearest broad gauge railway station from Spiti which have good connectivity is in Chandigarh. Nearest to Spiti, is Jogindernagar which also has a railway station, but it has very poor connectivity. Direct buses are available from Chandigarh, Shimla, Kullu, Manali and some other parts of North India. The nearest airport is in Kullu (Bhuntar airport), however the nearest international airport is in New Delhi. One can also take a taxi from nearby places to reach Spiti. However, a lot of people also reach Spiti valley by trekking or by using motorcycles.
- How to Reach Spiti By Flight
There is no direct flight connectivity to Spiti Valley. The nearest airport is in Bhuntur, near Kullu, 245 km away from the same.
Nearest Airport: Chandigarh Airport (IXC) - 211 kms from Spiti
- How to Reach Spiti By Road
Regular bus services ply to and fro the city of Spiti Valley. They operate on a daily basis, whether day or night, from places like New Delhi, Pathankot, Shimla etc. You can also take shared taxis or cabs for the same route.
- How to Reach Spiti By Train
There is no direct rail connectivity to Spiti Valley. Pathankot railway station is the nearest railway station to the site, around 500 km away from the same.
- Commuting Within Spiti
Lahaul and Spiti are separated by the Kunzum pass (4,590 m). Lahaul and Spiti are connected by a road, but are cut-off from each other during some parts of the year due to heavy snowfall.
- Top Places To Visit In Spiti
A) Chandratal Lake
Chandratal Lake is often referred to as one of the most beautiful lakes located at an altitude of about 4300 m in the mighty Himalayas. It is a camper and trekker's paradise. The name “Chandra Taal” (Lake of the Moon) comes from its crescent shape.
Legend has that it lies in the vicinity of a place from where God Indra’s chariot picked up Yudhishthira, the eldest of Pandava brothers in Mahabharata. This fact renders the lake sacred and thus, is flocked by a lot of Hindu devotees. The color of water of this holy lake keeps changing from reddish to orange to blue to emerald green as the day ends.
The lake is also a part of the Samudra Tapu plateau which overlooks the Chandra river. The trek from Batal to Chandratal can be quite a tedious trail for those who are going to trek, but the captivating views and charm of the place will be worth it.
- Best time to visit Chandratal Lake
The best time to visit Chandratal Lake is from June to October.
- How to Reach Chandratal Lake
Cars can be hired from Manali to Chandratal. However, this will be expensive. Another option is to take a bus to Kaza in Spiti Valley and get down at Batal. From Batal, Chandratal lake is a 14 km trek. Those who are not willing to trek can hitch-hike.
1. Be very careful if you choose to hitch-hike.
2. Make sure to catch a glimpse of the spectacular night view of the lake.
B) Key Monastery
It is one of the biggest and oldest Monasteries in Spiti and hence is the most important tourist destination in this region. It enshrines idols of Buddha in Dhyana position and also has a collection of ancient books and murals.
Situated at a height of 4112 meters, this Monastery was built in the 14th century and its architecture is influenced by Chinese style.
C) Kunzum Pass
Its a high mountain pass situated on the eastern Kunzum Range. The pass connects the Kullu and Lahaul Valley with the Spiti Valley. It can be reached from Kaza. From here, a trek of 9km is also there for the visitors to the Moon Lake of the Chandratal. The valley top offers a picturesque landscape with stunning view of the Chandra Bhaga ranges that surrounds it on the north sides with snow clapped peaks. Chandratal Lake is 7 km from Kunzum pass.
Kunzum Pass, that is called as Kunzum La in Chinese. It stands at the elevation of 4,590 m. The distance is at around 122 km from Manali. Its a high mountain pass situated on the eastern Kunzum Range. The pass connects the Kullu and Lahaul Valley with the Spiti Valley.It can be reached from Kaza. From here, a trek of 9km is also there for the visitors to the Moon Lake of the Chandratal. The valley top offers a picturesque landscape with stunning view of the Chandra Bhaga ranges that surrounds it on the north sides with snow clapped peaks. One can drive to Batal after seeing the pass and do night stay in the Rest House.
- Top view from the hill
Kunzum Pass is one of the highest passes across the Kunzum range. It is situated at an altitude of 4551 m . From Lahaul to the Spiti valley, it serves as an entrance pass. Visitors take a round around the temples to seek blessings from the Goddess.The valley top offers a picturesque landscape with stunning view of the Chandra Bhaga ranges that surrounds it on the north sides with snow clapped peaks . On the other side , the Spiti valley is there accompanied with its dessert like terrain. The view from the top is breathtaking. Spiti valley is on one side and to the other are numerous Chandra-Bhaga range peaks.
- Mythological fact related to the pass
Goddess Kunjum dwells in a temple that is located on the Kunzum pass and it is believed that she keeps a look over the pass and protects it from the evil powers. The temple is dedicated to goddess Durga. The visitors who pass Kunzum, they stop at the temple to pay respects to the goddess.
- How to Reach Kunzum Pass
No vehicular movement is possible the rest of the year via Manali and Kunzum Pass. The nearest village is Losar which is 16 km away from the pass.
While going to this pass, do not miss the panoramic view of Bara-Sigri glacier . It is really enthralling and inspiring to watch the scene.
- Open Time: Best time to visit: Mid May to Mid July (Timings: sunset to sunrise)
D) Suraj Tal Lake
Just below the Baralacha pass, is a lake, one should not moss while here, especially if they are into photography. The Suraj Tal, is one of the most dream-like and photogenic lakes.
The lake is fed from the glaciers of Baralacha La and the area around makes for a great trek and biking tour. The lake is at a distance of around 65 kms. from Keylong.
E) Pin valley National Park
Set amidst semi-frozen rivers in the Pin Valley, this national park is home to the rare species of famous Himalayan snow leopards and their prey, the Ibex.
Visit this national park to witness species and sceneries you do not get to witness everyday. With the picture-perfect backdrop of snow covered mountain ranges, a trek to Pin Valley National park is a delight for all its visitors.
Located in the Lahaul and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, the Pin Valley National Park is within the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve. The park joins the separate districts of Lahaul and Spiti. The elevation of the park ranges from about 3,500 metres near Ka Dogri to more than 6,000 metres at its pinnacle. The Pin Valley Park starts from Dhankar Gompa on the Tibetan border.
- Open Time: Best Time to visit is during day hours in favorable seasons.
- Food Availability
You will not find eateries at any place during your trek. It is always a good idea to carry your own food during trekking.
- Water Availability
Carry your own water as well during the trek. However, you might get an opportunity to refill your water stock from the rivers flowing during the trek.
Pin Valley does not offer any proper accommodation for the trekkers. Most of the tourists carry their own sleeping bags and tents. Camping is allowed at Mud Farka.
- General tips and tricks
1. Make sure you carry warm clothes irrespective of the fact that what season you are traveling in.
2. Carry your own trekking gear and equipment and be always prepared.
3. Carry a medical aid kit and your usual medicines for the way.
4. A good pair of trekking shoes is a must.
5. Carry rain gear no matter if you are traveling during monsoon season.
6. Make sure you obtain all the permits well in advance required for trekking in the region.
7. Make sure you carry spare batteries and film roll for camera as there will be no electricity supply.
8. A well informed and trained guide is very important and do make sure to sought out all trivial things well in advance to avoid misunderstanding.
- History of Pin Valley National Park
Steeped in historical and present day Buddhist Tibetan culture, the area has many Tibetan Buddhist influences. Pin Valley National Park was established by India in 1987.
- Flora and Fauna of Pin Valley National Park
Due to the park’s high altitude and extreme temperatures, the vegetation density is sparse, comprising mainly of alpine trees and groves of Himalayan cedar aka Deodars. In summer, rare birds such as the Himalayan snowcock, chukar partridge, snow partridge and snowfinch flourish in the park.
Because of its snow laden unexplored higher spots and slopes, the Park forms a natural habitat for a number of endangered animals including the snow leopard and Siberian ibex.
Twenty-two rare and endangered medicinal plant species, have been discovered in and around Pin Valley National Park, which are distributed over 10 different habitat types.
About Pin Valley National Park
Approx trekking distance (Both sides) : 20 kms
Base Camp : Mikkim
Highest point of trek : 4,551 m
Nearest Airport : Bhuntar, Kullu
Nearest Railhead : 443 km
Region : Spiti Valey
Starting point of trek : Manali
- How to Reach Pin Valley National Park
Well connected through main city via all means of transport. Bus services quite prominent.
Carry camera, torch, light and fully covered clothes, proper footwears, munchies, beverages and water along.
F) Dhankar Monastery
This Monastery is situated on a cliff between Kaza and Tabo. An amazing view of the Spiti river can be seen from here. This Monastery has a statue of ‘Vairocharan’ displaying four statues of Buddha seated in the 4 directions, along with ancient paintings, murals and texts.
A true insight into Buddhist religion and culture can be procured by a visit to this Monastery. It can be accessed by a motorable road.
- Open Time: All days of the week: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM.