Spiti Valley, the most adventurous valley of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, often visited by dare-devils and the most adventurous tourists to pacify their adrenaline rush and accepting the most robust challenge, while enjoying the nature's beauty when it is at its best is worth visiting. Otherwise, Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain valley in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayas.
The Spiti Valley is formed along the Spiti river, which originates from the foot of K-III, the glacial peak that flows close to 160 Km towards the south-east before it's confluence with the Pare Chu at Sumdo, the district border between Spiti and Kinnaur. Further downstream from there, it goes on to merge into the Satluj at Khab.
The literal meaning of Spiti is the 'middle land' and adapt to its name; it is the land between Tibet and India. Spiti Valley is famous for its cultural heritage, natural beauty, scenic views, ancient monasteries, temples, and stupas. The murals of these monasteries are a unique attraction for the tourists.
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How To Reach Spiti
By Road- One can easily reach Spiti via Shima. Shimla is well connected to major cities of India and is easily approachable from Chandigarh either via train or cab. Though, it takes a longer time in comparison to going from Shimla.
Still, the road is better and is motorable all year round. Usually, it takes two days to reach Spiti, assuming you drive eight to nine hours daily while breaking a journey during the night.
The Spiti Valley Road otherwise is one of the World's most robust and the most adventurous roads considered as probably more challenging than the Leh-Manali Highway. This route is deemed to be safe and better than the other way to Spiti, which is from Manali to Kaza.
By Air- Chandigarh Airport is the nearest airport to be at Spiti. From there one could easily reach Shimla or Manali via AC cab.
By Train- Kalka is the nearest railway station to come to Spiti. From there one can easily reach Shimla by train and can take a cab to reach Spiti.
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Spiti Valley - Connectivity
Kunzum Pass, at an altitude of 4,551 m, is the entrance pass to the Spiti Valley from Lahaul.
The Spiti valley is close to 21 Km from Chandra Taal, which is connected to Manali through Rohtang Pass.
It is connected to Shimla through the motorable road, which usually takes two days for the tourists to be here.
One can visit Spiti from two different routes depending upon the month and the course you opt for,
1) Via Manali – You could visit Spiti via Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Chattru – Kunzum Pass – Kaza (Spiti Valley).
It takes two days to reach Spiti while going via Manali.
This route via Manali opens only in June when the Kunzum Pass get paved, though the snow starts melting from April to Mid-May.
2) Via Shimla – Kinnaur valley: Shimla – Kinnaur – Nako – Sumdo (Spiti Valley) – Tabo – Kaza. This route has a seasonal breakdown.
It takes close to three days to reach Spiti while visiting via this route.
As the snow starts melting from April, the other routes, such as from Kaza to Losar, are, however, opened.
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Best Time To Be There
Mid-May to Mid- July is considered as the best time to visit Spiti when hordes of tourists visit there to sink in nature's beauty while others to appease their adventurer inside them.
You must note one thing that it takes at least three days to reach Spiti Valley from Kinnaur side and at least two days from Manali side.
Here Are Few Of The Most Prominent Destinations Visited By Tourists From Far Of Places-
Key Monastery Gompa
The Key Gompa is the largest, and the oldest Monastery situated in the Spiti Valley located at an altitude of 4166 m close to the Spiti River in Spiti Valley, believed to have been founded in 11th Century by Dromton a pupil of well-known teacher Atisha. Beautiful natural scenes, snow-clad mountains encircle it, and enchanting valleys attract thousands of tourists from across the world.
It is a masterpiece of monastic architecture studded with numerous attractive paintings, Buddha images, books, murals, wind instruments, and old manuscripts.
Kye Monastery has three floors with one underground level for the storage, and another one called Tangvur painted with several murals beside the ground floor with a cell for monks and beautifully decorated Assembly Hall.
Nowadays, this Monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect and can accommodate close to 250 monks.
It is one of the best monasteries to seek spiritual enlightenment and has become the central hub of nuns, monks, and lamas who come here from far off places to receive their religious education.
If you are seeking spiritual enlightenment, the Monastery is home to a large number of nuns, monks, and lamas who receive their religious education here. If you plan to visit during June-July, you’ll also get to witness the beautiful festival involving Chaam dancers, lamas, and a devil made out of butter!
You would be fortunate to witness their beautiful festival involving Chaam dancers in case you visit here during the month of June-July. A devil made out of the butter is the unique attraction of this festival.
Location – Spiti Valley
When to Visit – One can visit between May to October; however, June-July is the best time.
Dhankar Lake, a beautiful lake with serene, dazzling blue water, situated on a small hilltop at an altitude of 4100 m, is a unique attraction of tourists visiting Spiti Valley.
It is at the end of Dhankar Lake trek, which is famous for its snow-capped mountains, treacherous tracks, beautiful vistas, and mesmerizing beauty. The magical realism of the trek makes the adventure enthusiasts, as well as the nature lovers equally, spellbound.
From Dhankar village, it is at 5 Km on an uphill trek along an adventurous barren, dusty, and muddy path across the mountain range. While on the way to Dhankar lake, the trek witnesses changes in temperature from warm to windy to finally very cold putting a real endurance test for the adventurers to test their nerves.
Surrounded by the Great snow-capped Himalayas, it remains frozen for about eight months and is accessible from Mid-May to September only. The beauty of the lake is that it appears blue and green when viewed from different angles.
It’s worth all the courage to be there.
Location - It is at a distance of 2 Km close to one-hour trekking from Tabo Dhanker Monastery and 5 Km from Dhankar Village.
When to Visit – Mid-May to September
Dhankar Monastery, situated at an elevation of 3,894 m in the Spiti Valley, about 2 Km above Dhankar Village between Kaza and Tabo towns is often the most sought-after Monastery by the adventurers as wells as nature lovers. Its literal meaning is the ‘fort on a cliff’ as Dhang, or dang stands for cliff and kar for a fort.
The Monastery, built on a 300 m high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers in line with Central Tibetan pattern, is the most astonishing one for its breathtaking location.
The Monastery provides the best spectacular look of being perched so precariously among the rocks that it appears as if it will fall within seconds. You cannot resist clicking it. There is a statue of Vairocana made up of four figures seated back-to-back besides a small museum.
It is easily approachable by a motorable road, which is about 8 Km from the main Kaza-Samdu main road.
Location - It is situated at a distance of 2 Km from Dhanker Lake, and take close to one-hour by trekking. The confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers at Dhankar village is about 5 Km from here.
When to Visit – Mid-May to September throughout the week
Chandra Taal Lake
Chandra Taal lake, situated at an altitude of about 4300 m in the Himalayas on the Samudra Tapu plateau, overlooked by mountains of scree on one side and enclosed by a cove on the other, is a prominent tourist destination for trekkers and campers. The lake got its name from its shape as it resembles a crescent shape.
It is accessible from Batal as well as Kunzum Pass from late May to early October only and that too on foot. A motorable road is also nearby with forced parking at about 2 Km from here. From Suraj Taal, it is close to 30 Km away.
From Kunzum Pass, it is a two-hour walk. The Accommodation is available at close to 5 Km from the lake. It is the best tourist destination for adventurers as well as the shutter burgers.
If you enjoy experiencing nature at its best glorious splendour, there’s nothing better than being to Chandra Taal Lake. The spellbinding majestic backdrop of snow-capped mountains, and densely carpeted meadows with beautiful colourful wildflowers, surrounding the lake, will for sure become your best scenic beauty you have ever seen or captured.
Location – Two hour on foot from Kunzum Pass in Spiti Valley
When to Visit – From late May to early October
Tabo Monastery, built-in 996 AD in Tabo village of Spiti Valley, famously known as the ‘Ajanta of Himalayas’, is the oldest Buddhist Monastery in India, situated on a barren, rocky and cold desert of the Tabo valley at a dizzying altitude of 3050 m and is often visited by the tourists to witness the untouched century-old Buddhists heritage, culture, tradition, and art.
It is believed to be founded by the king of the western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge, a great teacher, and translator, Lotsawa Rinchen Tsang Po in the year of Fire Ape.
It can be approached from Manali to Kaza by a motorable road and take close to 9 hours. The nearest railway station here would be of Kalka, which is about 452 Km from here.
The Tabo Monastery is second in importance only to Tholing Monastery in Tibet. It is the advanced centre of Buddhist learning developed to preserve the centuries-old Buddhist legacy, with nine temples, twenty-three chortens, a monk’s chamber beside a nun chamber.
The monastery spreads on the ground over an area of 6300 Sqm in Tabo village and is close to 46 Km from Kaza. One can easily stay at Kaza and can visit this ancient legend of Buddhism.
It is a historical treasure with a priceless collection of manuscripts, and Buddhist scroll paintings called thangkas, with ancient statues, unique murals displaying the tales from the Mahayana Buddhist Pantheon.
The assembly halls showcase amazing paintings and elegant artwork from the life of Buddha besides a four-fold figure of Vairocana, one of the five sons of Adibuddha, which enchants the tourists and leave them spellbound.
Location – Tabo village in Spiti Valley
Best to Visit – May to October
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