7 Best Things To Do In Spiti Valley

Spiti Valley

About Spiti Valley

Spiti Valley is located in the remote corner of the Northern Himalayas in India. Majority of the people residing up here follow Buddhism like Ladakh and Tibet. This valley is a Barren deserted valley surrounded by the high altitude snow covered Mountains. This valley has no proper roads, rough terrains and no civilization for miles. Spiti Valley weather is constant and receives very less rain even during rainy seasons. In Winters the temperature drops down to -20 to -25 C where as in summers the temperature is still near to 0 to 5 C. Spiti valley days are hot but Spiti valley nights turn extremely cold. Activities like star gazing or constellation viewing can be pursued during night. Best time to visit Spiti Valley is summer time i.e., June-September unless, you are not looking for a snow trek. Spiti Valley tours can be categorized majorly in two parts, Winter White Spiti Valley trek and Regular Spiti Valley trek tours. Major attractions of this valley are Key Monastery, Chandratal Lake, Kaza, Highest Post office in the world, Highest Village in the world and much more. The literal meaning of Spiti is “The middle Land” and this valley was named Spiti because it lies between the India and Tibet. Hotels in Spiti Valley are few as compared to other destinations because of its high altitude location along with harsh weather conditions. To experience Spiti in its true sense and to have insight into the harsh and struggle filled life of locals Home stays are a popular concept and a practical viable alternative option of accommodation. Interaction with families while in a home stay gives you immense joy and sense of satisfaction like no Hotel in Spiti Valley can offer.

How to reach Spiti Valley

There are two major ways to reach Spiti one is via Shimla and other from Manali. Although both the route are almost same but yet I would prefer you to go via Shimla as the altitude increase is gradual and you would get properly acclimatized along the way.

From Shimla

There is no direct bus service for Kaza-the main town of Spiti valley, from Delhi. Kaza is around 750 kilometers from Delhi and the journey to Kaza can be done in two phases.

  • Delhi to Reckong Peo (570 Kilometers)

There is a direct bus for Peo from Kashmere Gate ISBT New Delhi ,which departs at 8:20 PM. It takes around 18 to 20 hours of bus journey depending upon the traffic via Shimla-Narkanda and Rampur. You can easily get hotels near the bus stand ranging between 500 to 1000 INR. CHITKUL which is also the Last village of India on Indo-Tibet Border, can be considered as an alternate destination to Reckong Peo. Many travelers heading to Spiti include Chitkul in their respective itineraries.

  • Reckong Peo to Kaza ( 195 Klimoeters)

There is only one bus for Kaza from Reckong which departs early morning by 07.00. There is a huge rush for tickets, you should reach bus stand at least an hour before to get tickets. It takes around 7-8 hours to reach Kaza from Reckong.

From Manali

The frequency of the buses between Delhi and Manali is quite high and you can easily board a bus anytime from New delhi. It is advisable to get off at Kullu (25 kms before Manali) and  stay here as it is nearly impossible for you to get a ticket from Manali for Kaza. You ought to reach the Kullu bus stand an hour before to easily get the tickets for the bus to Kaza as there is only one bus and that too  leaves early morning by 05.00. From Manali, Kaza is around 210 kilometers and it takes around 8 to 10 hours to reach Spiti. 


Now Let us Discuss About the 7 Best things you can do in Spiti Valley for an Amazing Experience


Gue Village

Gue Village, Spiti Valley
Gue Village

Gue or Giu or Gheun Village is a small and quaint hamlet located about 40 kms from the Tabo Monastery. It is an off-beat and away- from- Civilization kind of serene place located near Sumdo Valley in Spiti. Gue village lies on the ancient trade route between India and china. Apart from traders who traded wool, sugar, spices, salt, precious stones this village was frequented by the Monks and lamas. Almost every travel head in India or around the globe knows about Spiti and giu village but hardly there are people those who know what Gue Village is actually known for. Even I got to know about Giu Village on my 3rd trip to Spiti. I had only heard and known about Mummies concept either in Hollywood movies or in Egyptian Dramas. But I was shocked to know that even here in India there is 500-years-old Mummy of a Buddhist monk. Yes, this mysterious mummy of the monk, is the reason why Giu village is popular and known far and wide.

The mummy of an old monk, named Sangha Tenzin, who gave up his life while meditating lies inside a glass cabin in a small room which is located in the outskirts of the village. It is the only Buddhist mummy in the world, that too, in a sitting position. In Tibet there were numerous mummies but they were all buried by the Tibetans before the Chinese invaded the Tibet.

Now the question arises what is the mystery behind this Mummy. How did it come here? Or when did it come here? And the major question that arises is that how this monk’s body has managed to stay remarkably well preserved in its current state naturally without any use of chemicals and embalming preservatives?  It is a mystery how body has not shown any sign of decay as the nails and teeth of this mummy look like they are of a living human. The skin is unbroken and hair is still on the head.
So to be exact no one knows about this mystical mummy. All we have are theories and the anecdotes told by the local folks. Local folks believe that the monk is performing some occult yoga posture which has helped the body to self preserve.  No matter what the belief or theory, at the end of the day it is a wonder to witness a non-living human body which has mysteriously preserved itself for past several hundred years without any chemicals
It is said that his body got buried under the snow during an avalanche and was not founded for hundreds of years till villagers of Gue village found it in 1975 when earthquake struck the area. Indo Tibetan Border Police(ITBP) during one of its earthquake rescue assignments in the Spiti valley took this mummy safely out. After being found by ITBP it was brought to Gue Village and a small shrine was built around it. Being a restricted area and under the control of ITBP no one knew about this mummy until in the 1990’s when a freelance photographer and his  fellow biker –an auto and travel magazine writer  first photographed it and bring it to the notice of the world.

So, if you are heading to Spiti with your friends or family or solo, spending a night in this village can be an exceptionally outstanding choice to make.


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Key Monastery

Key Monastery, Spiti Valley
Key Monastery

This magnificent Buddhist monastery, situated remotely encompassed by the snow crest mountains, is among one of the most renowned and distinguished Monasteries in Spiti and is largest training centre for the Lamas in Spiti region. It is so famous that obviously anyone visiting Spiti would have Key Monastery surely in its list of places to be explored. It is believed that Key Monastery was built by a Buddhist disciple named Dromton way back in 1100 CE but its exact age is still uncertain. If you are a photographer then this place is going to be a heaven for you. There is an exact spot little high and distant from the main area from where you can get a full view of majestic monastery along with the valley. Perched at an height of 4116 meters above sea level , Key Monastery nicknamed as ‘Little Tibet’, is nearly 15 kilometers away from the main city of Kaza.

Kaza is often referred as the Heart of the Spiti. The early structures in Gompa built by the monks were comparatively lower than the present existing structures. The Gompa was restructured time and again due to numerous invasions and natural disasters. As a result it now gives a impression of a box shaped fort with temples atop one another. Key Monastery is well known for its Pasada style of architecture, which is influenced by the Chinese style of building design that came into prominence in 14th century.  Key monastery hold within itself valuable manuscripts, remarkable Thangkas (embroidered Tibetan Paintings), unique antique wind instruments and a collection of weapons which were earlier used to defend the monastery from the invaders and attackers.

Somewhere during the summer time (months of June-July ), Key monastery holds the festival of Chaam. During this festival a procession of Chaam dancers reaches ritual grounds inside monastery and the wind instruments safely kept in monastery are put to use while a demon statue made from butter is set on fire. In Key monastery, an old age home is also run by locals for people wishing for salvation in old age. Last time when I went there, I was lucky enough to witness the gathering of the little (kid) monks, who were training for the morning rituals. There is no bus from Kaza to Key Monastery, so the best thing to reach the monastery is hitch hiking. Currently around 280 lamas (monks) reside inside the monastery and their daily routine is spiritual training, traditional farming and most importantly keeping the wonderful ancient traditions, culture and rituals alive.


Hikkim (Highest Post Office in the World)

Hikkim Village, Langza Valley
Hikkim Village

The heading itself gives an idea that we are just going to talk about the world’s most extensive postal system in the world. Hikkim is an isolated village which is 23 kilometers away from the main town of Kaza. There is nothing much to see in Hikkim other than the traditional culture of Spiti and obviously the Highest Post Office of the world. Last time when I was there I was lucky enough to have a chitchat and Tea session with the postmaster. This post office was opened on 22nd November 1983 and even today this post office bears the same Post Master who started serving the Post Office at the time of its opening. Obviously one thing which holds the utmost importance in Hikkim is getting clicked with the board hanging on the wall of the post office which states “The world’s Highest Post Office. Height- 4440 Meters”.

Hikkim Village
Highest Post Office in the World

The local monks around the valley receive their Passports from this very Post Office so that they can embark on Foreign Pilgrimages tours. This Post Office is also the place where the locals and farmers of this region maintain their saving accounts. For the travel heads like us the best practice is to send the souvenir Postcards to our loved ones from this on- of-its- kind Post Office. The two runners from Hikkim Post Office collect and take all the mails on foot to Kaza every Morning. From Kaza the collected mails are sent to New Delhi via Shimla and finally from New Delhi to their respective destinations.  An extraordinarily amazing fact here is that these post runners at Hikkim are quick enough to reach Kaza on foot before anyone could, even by their car from Hikkim.


Komic Village

Komic Village, Langza Valley
Komic Village

It won’t be a surprising or interesting fact for you anymore If I’ll tell you that Spiti not only has the highest post office in the World but also has the highest village in Inida. Komic, which literally means Eye of Snow Cock, is officially the highest village of the world. Again the best thing to do in this tranquil picturesque village is getting clicked with the Board that bear the words “Highest Village in the World connected with a Motorable road”. There is a sacred Gum Maro( Red Box) kept safely inside the monastery. As per this holy Gum Maro it was foretold in Tibet the exact location where this monastery will be built in future in Spiti. So, exactly on the basis of this divine prediction this particular region (as per the holy prophecy-backdrop of mountain with shape of a snow lion on left and a beheaded eagle on the right side with 4 springs in the vicinity) in the shape of the eye of the snow cock was discovered and thus named Komic.

Highest Village in the World

In 14 th century the Monastery was established and named as Komic Lundup Tsemo Gompa. This isolated though lively village is located at an amazing height of 4587 meters with an average temperature of around 0-2 C in summers and -20 to -30 C in winters. The population of this charming Komic Village is 130 according to the Population Census 2011. Mostly, Lamas stay in the monastery throughout the year.During the winter season(Nov-March) this high altitude place with harsh climate, bereft of basic ameneties is completely cut-off from the rest of the world because of the heavy snow.  Other than its Title of Highest Village in INDIA the main reason for travelers to come here is its neighboring Langza Valley and Hikkim Village. Langza village located high in the meadows  is also known as the Fossil Village of India. Fossil tours are arranged on a regular basis for a incomparable awareness about the Himalayan history. For millions of years Spiti was immersed into the Tethys Sea and fossils of sea creatures can be distinctively seen lying in and around the village. So, we can say that if you want to do the local sightseeing in Kaza then your first preference can be Langza-Komic-Hikkim circuit. Before Komic Village, Kibber used to be the highest village in the world because by that time Komic was not connected by the road to the civilization.

Usually, the best way to reach Komic from Kaza is to hire a Taxi. It would approximately take around 45 Mins to reach Komic. It is not advisable to use Public transport for Komic as it has no fixed departure time and also daily public transport service is unavailable. Talking about mobile networks, BSNL is the only mobile network, with very weak signals, that is available in this spectacular village. Usually the oxygen level is low and travelers face breathing problems. Very few home stay and Gompa Guesthouse with 3-4 rooms are the only options for accommodation in Komic village, and booking of these accommodations at Kaza prior to visit at Komic is preferable as far as the availability is concerned.


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Tabo Monastery

Tabo Monastery, Tabo
Tabo Monastery

Tabo is another major village in Spiti which is famous for its Barren Beauty and Tabo Monastery. People mainly stay in Kaza only when they plan a trip to Spiti which makes Tabo insulated from the modern curses. The famous monastery of Tabo located at an altitude of 3100 meters on the snow covered, cold desert of the Tabo Valley is one of the most sacred and largest Buddhist monasteries founded in 998 A.D. The famous Kalachakra initiation ceremony of the Buddhist people was held here in 1996 by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. This holy event of initiation and Buddhist teachings held on the occasion of millennium celebrations brought this secluded place into limelight and it gained both national and international attention. This monastery offers the richness of Spirituality and architectural integrity. This highly revered Monastery is also known as The Ajanta of The Himalayas because of its vast complex which constitutes of 9 temples, 23 chortens, monks chamber and spacious extension for nuns chamber. The astounding Tabo Gompa is known for elegant delicate murals and stucco sculptures which carry a distinctive and evident similarity with the paintings and statues found in Ajanta Caves. This historical significant monastery has collection of some centuries old rare paintings, extraordinary documentation of the history and marvelous culture of the period. Above the cliff on which monastery is situated, there are numerous caves carved into it. These caves are used by the monks for meditation. The current spiritual head of the monastery is Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche. Because of the proximity of the valley from Tibet the majority of people here follow Buddhism. Tabo Monastery is considered to be the National Historic Treasure of India and is preserved by Archeological Survey of India.

How to reach
Tabo monastery is around 50 Kilometers from Kaza towards Reckong Peo. Daily bus service of state transport is available from Kaza from Reckong Peo in the early morning around 07.00. So one can reach Tabo on bus by 09.00 or 09:30 if one boards this bus. Homestays are available starting from 600 INR to 2000 INR and if you are a backpacker then Zostel can be a great option for you.


Camping at Chandra Tal

Chandra Tal, Lahul & Spiti
Chandra Tal

Chandratal can be considered as a best adventure experience in Lahul and Spiti District of India. In short we can say that it is the camping paradise for the explorers or the adventure seekers. The lake is surrounded by the rocky terrains and the snow covered mountains which makes it similar to the Pangong Lake in Ladakh. Chandra Tal literally means “Moon Lake” and it is located at an altitude of 4270 meters and is the source of Chandra river. It is believed by the locals here that the Yudhister (Eldest brother among Pandavas of Mahabharata epic) was taken to heaven from Chandratal  in its mortal form. Camping is available here which means that you don’t need to carry your own camps with you if you wish to stay here at night. But this option is not always available, especially in winters, so if you are an extreme adventurer and wish to explore the Chandratal in winters then maybe you need to carry your own camps and sleeping bags. Although reaching Chandratal in winters can be considered as an achievement in its own, yet there are adventurers those who visit Chandratal in winters for camping.

How to Reach

banjara camps
Banjara Camps at ChandraTal

Chandra Tal is accessible in two major ways, one Via Shimla-Rampur-ReckongPeo-Kaza-Kunzum Pass-ChandraTal and another one is Mandi-Manali-Rohtang Pass-ChandraTal.  Last motorable point from the lake is 1.5 kilometers away from where you have to trek to reach here. People usually doing Hampta Pass trek add one more day to their itineraries to have a camp night in ChandraTal. The temperature is quite cold up here even in summers and you need to have proper arrangements for the night. Talking about winters the average temperature during the night here is -20 C. The lake is around 140 Kilometers away from Manali and a State transport bus which leaves by early morning 05:00 for Kaza can be the best option to reach ChandraTal from Manali. After Boarding the bus from Manali you need to get off at Batal from where the lake is around 14 Kilometers.


Dhankar Gompa

Dhankar Gompa
Dhankar Village

Dhankar Gompa also known as Dhangkar gompa is approximately 1000 years old monastery situated in Dhangkar village at an height of 3895 meters in Spiti. In local parlance Dhang or Dang means cliff and kar means fort. Hence, Dhangkar means Fort on a Cliff. So as the name signifies, this spectacular monastic complex is settled perfectly atop a cliff and wondrously overlooks the confluence of Spiti and Pin rivers. The statue of Vairochana ( Dhyana/Meditative Buddha) consisting of 4 figures seated back to back inside Dhankar Gompa complex is one of the major attractions for the tourists. Besides it the other thing worth viewing is the collection of various centuries old Thangkas. Since 15th Century this Gompa belongs to the Gelugspa School of Order. Earlier in the historical times it was also known as Nyingma-pa, Sakya-pa and Kagyu-pa determined by  the religious loyalty and devotion of the ruling Sovereign  family. Dhankar was the traditional capital of the rulers of Spiti Valley Kingdom, namely, the Nonos. They were the monarchs of the region and were famous for the harsh penalties they gave as justice to the people of region, until ousted by the Britishers. In 1975 an earthquake destroyed the Dhankar Fort to ruins. Meanwhile, due to deteriorations,  some sections of the Dhankar Gompa have been desolated and a new Gompa has been established downwards the cliff. But the ruined deserted Fort is still worth a visit if the vast stretch and extent of Spiti is to be witnessed. The World Monuments Fund has identified Dhankar Gompa as one of the 100 most Endangered Sites in the World.

Dhankar Lake
Dhankar Lake

Dhankar Lake is a fresh water lake situated at an height of 13500 ft, about 1.5 km above Dhankar Village. Surrounded and encompassed by the flourishing vigorous green pastures, this fresh water lake is a perfect camping site for visitors and trekkers alike. But as this lake is the primary source of water supply for the whole village, the locals do not allow camping at the lake anymore. Still the trek upto this pristine lake is a stimulating one as it reinvigorates the mind and refreshes up the body.



About

Hi, I am Karan and I love writing about isolated destinations. My life revolves around the change in Longitude. I drink Room Temperature Water and Smoke only Oxygen. I believe that Vacation Calories don't count so think less and Travel More. I am on a mission to travel the world and this Bio pretty much Sums Up my Life!

1 Comment

  • My Lib May 19, 2019 at 11:21 pm Reply

    Formed in a crescent shape, and situated at 4,300 meters in the lap of the Himalayas, this lake is amongst the popular things to see in Spiti Valley. What makes an experience more wow-worthy there is camping by the lake with incredible views around. So, you know where to stay, at least for a night in Spiti.

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