Sandwiched by prominent tourist destinations, Spiti lies in between Leh and Kullu Valley. The name Spiti itself means the middle land, it is located in Trans Himalayan Mountains at an average height of 12,500 ft. Although most people visit the other two places this stunning valley is yet to be explored to the fullest. Covered by thick layers of snow almost half of the year, this place displays beautiful summer hues during the months of May to September. Winters in Spiti are harsh and only local people or extreme adventurous can bear the coldest nights. Bearing this, one can hike along Snow Leopard and Himalayan Wolf habitats Moreover it’s the best time to get familiar with the introspective culture of Spiti. In this coldest of nights, you will meet warmest of people.
This valley is full of surprises, changing its view drastically with increasing height, starting with alpine forests followed by lands where the grass is a little darker and ending in semi Himalayan barren deserts. Scattered small picturesque towns and thousand years old monasteries make this place more exciting. If you’re fond of gazing at the stars, this place is heaven for you as you can see whole Milky Way sleeping under a blanket of millions of stars shining brightly. The exhilarating landscapes of the barren deserts and snow – tipped mountain tops in the background make this place heaven for nature lovers and photographers. Prepare yourself to travel to the world where village appears like dream world destinations; green river meandering between snow clad mountains and blue lakes consisting crystal clear water. Given a background here is the list of places you can visit during the Spiti valley trip.
Kaza is a small but centrally located town on the banks of the Spiti River at an altitude of 14800 ft. Being located in the center, it is the headquarter of Spiti Valley and provides access to every other town. The town is divided into two parts Kaza Soma popularly known as the new town and Kaza Khas the older one. Well known for its Sakya Tagyud monastery and colorful festivals, the town is a base for trekking and mountaineering activities in Lahaul-Spiti. World’s highest petrol pump is located here. If you want to take away something besides beautiful memories, this place is famous for its carpets, pure wool shawls and woolen clothes.
Langza is located 50 km away from the Kaza at an altitude of 14000 ft. The small village having fifty odd households is the best location for one day trip from Kaza. People living here belong to a Sakya pa sect of Buddhism. People who have been there describe the hamlet as “The Switzerland of Spiti”. The main attraction is Lang Temple believed to be 1000 years old. You can walk through the town and explore a land very rich with fossils of Marine animals and plants as this place was submerged in Tethys sea millions of years ago. If you want to stay overnight, most of the houses provide Homestay. One can have quality time with families at the time of dinner when old people tell you stories of their hard life and harsh winters. You can also visit nearby towns, Hikkim where world’s highest post office is situated and Kibber supposedly one of the highest inhabited villages in the world.
3) Key monastery
How many of you remember the scene from highway movie where Aalia ask Randeep whether he likes mountains or not? It is the same place portrayed in that scene. It is the biggest monastery in Spiti, built in the 11th century. Located at an altitude of 13,670 ft. just 7km away from Kaza this place is celebrated as a conspicuous center of learning and refuge for Tibetans. It has ancient Buddhist paintings and scriptures as well as books of high aesthetic value and collection of ancient murals. Peaceful surroundings and calm environment to attract many people seeking for meditation.
Situated 47 km away from Kaza, Tabo is the second largest town of Spiti. Popularly known as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’. The best thing about this hamlet is Tabo Monastery, which is 1020 years old, famed for its ancient paintings describing the life of the Buddha along with life-size statues of bodhisattvas. This monastery is not only the oldest, but also the most beautiful. Spiti River flows next to this monastery with the mountains all around. Last but not least this place is a UNESCO world heritage site.
5) Chandratal Lake
The name literally means Moon lake and no other name could describe this place better. Crescent Shape Lake, located at an altitude of 14,100 ft. changes its appearance according to the pictures created in the sky. You can stay in camps and enjoy the night view of the lake.
HOW TO REACH SPITI?
There are two routes available to reach Spiti. One starts from Manali and takes 12-14 hours to reach the destination, other starts from Shimla and takes two days to reach Trans Himalayas. Later is a better choice given you have enough time as it lets your body acclimatize to the high altitude condition which is of utmost importance.