9 Days in Spiti Valley
Do you feel like waking up to the sounds of cymbals? Or want to track the trail of the gongs coming down from a distant snow-laden valley? Well, you can think Spiti then!
Forget those hectic schedules for a few days and pack only the necessary things. Let Spiti up your spirit and satiate that ‘traveller’ soul in you.
Off Shimla route, you can reach Spiti via Kinnaur. Well, the long, difficult 412 km road trail can fill your adventure spirits in a wonderfully pleasant way. At the end of that tough trail, your eyes will suddenly open up to the breathtaking views of ‘The Middle Land’; which Spiti is popularly known as. Wonder why? Why on earth a middle land? That is due to its strategic location between Tibet and India. Spiti is serenely situated in the north-east extreme of Himachal Pradesh with river Spiti flowing past it. As you near this heavenly place, you will discover yourself surrounded by mountain ranges, too high. Spiti, in between, sits like one beautiful citadel, protected from all
hustle and bustle, away from the entire civilization. Though secluded and nestled in the serene corners of this part of the world, this cold mountain valley openly welcomes enthusiasts, awed at its splendid beauty. One extremely rich and popular cultural as well as research centre for the Buddhists, Spiti is largely inhabited by people who follow
Vajrayana Buddhism. This same sect of Buddhism is followed in Tibet, as well as in Ladakh. Here you can walk, breathe and explore freely as it happens to be one of the least populated regions in the entire country! While there, you can laze around Tabo Monastery, favourite of Dalai Lama, also one of the oldest monasteries in the entire
world. Key Monastery happens to be another important Buddhist centre of culture, research and devotion. In the Pin Valley, you can find the few Buchen Lamas, still surviving, who belong to the Buddhist Sect Nyingmapa.
Hold on! You are one enthusiastic motorcyclist too? You can’t possibly get over the drooling road experience of the Spiti-Kinnaur stretch then! This particular route happens to be one of Asia’s greatest road trips. The roads are not just rugged, they are breathtakingly spectacular. This kind of ‘Mini-Ladakh’ attracts streams of adventurist
motorcyclists to its road trail. Surprisingly though, you won’t get to see much of the normal tourist crowd here. Thankfully, the absence of such enthusiastic people helps keep Spiti’s scenic natural beauty intact. The Tibetan Buddhist culture is still untouched in its pristine soil.
So, just think, the sight of glacial lakes, icy frozen and standing lonely and graceful amidst one scenic valley, watersheds, cold desert and the frosted snow peaks—- Spiti got it all. In one such cold desert, in such high altitude, you can actually look fixed at the stars in the clear blue sky and see the firmament changing color in continuous rhapsodies. Apart from the monasteries, you can hitchhike up till the marvelously beautiful Chandratal Lake. Nestled at a height of 4270 meters and in a very short distance from Spiti, this glacial lake keeps changing its color all round the year. You can behold all shades of blue in this spectacular lake. You can stay in the tent camps, amidst that vast beauty and soak in the spirit of that hypnotic environment.
This ‘Mini Tibet’ is one perfect sojourn for the wanderlusts as it unfolds one beauty after the other as you set to explore it with much vigor. During your stay over here, don’t forget to discover the lake Dhankar Tso. It is a steep walk from Dhankar village, around 2 km. But as you suddenly look up and see the twin peaks of Manirang appear before your eyes, you take a deep breath and stand still absorbing the wonderful view of the entire valley surrounding this small, picturesque lake. As your wanderlust soul trudges on, you feel even deeper desires to explore the entire valley, without keeping any of the places untouched. And your journey inevitably brings you to the Kunzum La, that famous watershed, just in between Lahul and Spiti. The stupas with Buddhist flags fluttering here and there would actually show you how divinity overpowers the mere human beings; where life is so belittled. As time passes by and you get more under work pressure, your memory will provide you that much-needed relief as you will keep slipping along the rugged and scenic Spiti roads and under that crystal blue sky, your eyes travel and ride the heights of those tranquil snow clad peaks… life here is motionless. Success, prosperity here is not
measured against your bank balance. As your heart soaks in the divinity, you feel unattached and enlightened! Your soul finds that perfect bliss that stops you from chasing the elusive materialistic pleasure. Experience it…
Following is 9 Days itinerary for you, if you are planning Spiti.
Day 1:The Night Bus to Shimla
How Far:346 km/07:41 hour
Where To Stay : Hotel City Inn
Cost: 748 for a room
As I seated myself comfortably in the Volvo AC bus at Delhi ISBT to Shimla and the bus flagged off perfectly on time, my worries melted away. I was curiously looking around for some fellow travelers. Of course there must be quite a lot. But I decided to concentrate on various posts related to Spiti Valley on my Smartphone!
The night journey was refreshing with multiple stops on the way that gave enough opportunity to refuel. Shimla in the early morning light looked at its glorious best as always! After freshening up at a nearby hotel and after permission for Spiti was done for the vehicle I was about to travel in, it was time to head on to Narkanda. Even within that little time and after freshening up I roamed around a bit and explored places around the Shimla hotel as it was quietly nestled in an offbeat location.
Way to Narkanda!
62.6 km / 02:00 hour
The reason I stopped at Narkanda was its historical as well as mythical significance! Myth says the Pandavas resided here during their exile. In my first leg of journey to Spiti as I was walking around and exploring the little uphill town, history was playing really big in my mind! Muhammad Gazni invaded it long back; then subsequently Maharaja Rajput Ranjit Singh took over. Then it was undertaken by the Mughals till Gorkhas took it away from them. And finally came the British rule and the creation of Shimla district; the summer retreat for the British!
I did not ski here though one of the main attractions is skiing. The apples hanging here and there in the orchards surely took my mind away! The apple business in Narkanda, the primary source of livelihood of its people has turned legendary. The day was really well spent!
Day 2 & 3:Song of Sangla…
How Far:161.4 KM/ 04:42 hour
Where To Stay : Buspa Guesthouse
I started at the crack of dawn to behold the beautiful sunrise in the valleys on my way to Sangla. This ethereal valley of breathtaking beauty, also known as ‘pass of light’ was prohibited to travelers due to its closest proximity to the Tibetan border. Located at Kinnaur district, one of the most beautiful valleys in Himachal Pradesh, Sangla is surrounded by snow-capped mountains with the Baspa River flowing through it. As I stepped into the chilling cold water of the river bed, my entire being shook up on perceiving the beauty of the famous Kinnaur-Kailash Peak lying in front of me. I headed back to hotel as the beauty had been enough to fill me up for that day!
The day next was really exciting, full of activities! The Rakcham Walk and visit to Chitkul filled my adventurous spirit with that much-needed zing. Particularly the drive towards Tapri of 8 km was all the more special! The angry sun, ‘no roads’ and then after trudging along you reach the hot spring lying there! Thrilling it was. After fueling up at the Tapri petrol pump, I ventured towards Chitkul, the last Indian town!
Day 4: Sinking in the History at Tabo!
How Far:191 KM/ 04:50 hour
Where To Stay : Khabrik Homestay
Cost: 840 for a room with breakfast
Tabo Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the region, a center of Tibetan Buddhist culture, devotion and education enthralled me post my Narkanda and Sangla experience. As usual, I had started at dawn to soak in the beauty of the sunrise in the valley. I reached here late in the day!
Surrounded by high boundary walls made of mud bricks and flanked by steep hills on both sides, the monastery stood on an isolated, barren ground in the bottom of the valley. A spectacular wonder, Idols inside this monastery are 1000 years old and while talking to the monks I got to hear tales from ancient times that filled me with complete reverence and awe! Tabo Monastery, for its architectural beauty is also popularly called ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’. Some centuries old photographs here are prohibited to the photo-enthusiasts. In the entire Himalayas, this monastery is the second holiest after Tholing Gompa at Tibet! The day at Tabo Monastery wrapped up with sacred chants, sound of cymbals filling up the entire atmosphere. A day that got etched in my mind forever! The day ended again with some wholesome dinner experience back in the hotel.
Day 5: Kaza Calling!
How Far: 48 KM/00:50 Hour
Where To Stay : Miklam Homestay
Cost: 1500 for a room with breakfast
Next morning, as the car ran past Batal and Lohar villages, it was really time to unwind. I am essentially one mountain person, ever since I have known myself a little. I have visited quite a number of mountains during all these years and each time I experienced them, they left me in complete awe! Spiti, I was sure was to offer me something more; something possibly I can’t explain in words as the views around kept unfolding slowly!
Kaza, the largest township in the magnificent Lahaul and Spiti Valley was not far from Tabo; only 2 hours away and I reached around 1 pm! The beautiful sceneries, mountains and sunny valleys on the way gave me so much soul-food that I did not feel hunger much! The hotel staffs, amicable and super-active, served me some hot scrumptious local spread that tasted super brilliant! It was a lazy day after whole lot of activities on all the previous days as I decided to take the day slow. Just before I retired for the night, the valleys, the mountains, the winding treacherous roads I crossed on my way here, showed up before my eyes. Hold on, said the heart! Still much to explore!
Day 6: In and Around Kaza
I had quite a lot of places in mind for the next morning. After sampling as much delicious breakfast as I could, I started for Key Monastery and Kibber village. Fortunately my driver-friend was lot knowledgeable and briefed me on the places I was about to explore. Key Monastery, an ancient Tibetan-Buddhist monastery and training center for the monks sits on top of a hill, at an altitude of 4,166 meters. I chatted up with few of the monks, the locals and the experience was amazing. The rugged beauty around couldn’t be more beautiful and scenic. I headed onto Kibber village next; the highest village in that valley and full of smiling people and children. My day was made!
Rest of the day I spent discovering some more historical buildings and gompas around Kaza and each time the experience proved to be awesome. The Spiti river flowing past Kaza, the crystal clear lakes, glaciers and beauty of the valley makes Kaza a special experience in itself. Barren landscapes here meet with lush green meadows and valleys and that is the beauty of this majestic town.
On the way I sampled some thukpa with butter tea. Post that, the next destination on my map was Komic village; the highest village in the world. I must say, it was a drooling experience for me to be in a place like that. I visited the highest post office there and bought few postcards too! The day was well spent with a delicious dinner again and more plans on my platter for the day next.
Day 7: Chandratal Lake Beckoning!
How Far:Off Route (12km Trek)
Where To Stay : Camping (Banjara camps)
Cost: 999 for a dorm
The morning next was going to be the most thrilling leg of this journey for me; the much-awaited trek to Chandratal Lake! I reached Kunzum Pass absolutely on time and started the 12-km trek. The beauty of Chandratal suffocated me as I reached. Comfortably nestled between the mountains, the pristine lake was so serene, magnificent. Another interesting fact about Chandratal is that this glacial lake keeps changing its colour all round the year. Time stopped as I was clicking pictures sitting on its quiet banks.
Day 8: Manali via Rohtang Pass
How Far:201 KM/04:25 hour
Where To Stay : Zostel room
Cost: 499 for a dorm
Next morning I started from Kaza towards Manali that was going to take me near about 8 hours. Rohtang Pass on the way was going to be the most sought-after destination in my journey! Serenely located on the Pir Panjal Mountain Range, I saw here glaciers, peaks, Lahaul Valley and Chandra River. The view of the twin peaks of Geypan was also an out-of-the-world experience! The pass lies on the watershed between the water basins of the Chenab River and the Beas River.
As the day slowly rolled past, I went on to discover the Pin Valley National Park and the High altitude villages of Langza and Hikkim. In the Pin Valley here, you can find the few Buchen Lamas, still surviving, who belong to the Buddhist Sect Nyingmapa.
The last leg of my wonderful sojourn ended in Manali. Another mythical town in its own right, Manali remains the all-time quintessential charming hill station for the travel enthusiasts. I roamed around the town while appreciating its amazing beauty and looking into the souvenir shops to buy stuffs for the loved ones back home!
After those free hours, I took my night bus back to Delhi. As the vehicle moved fast towards its urban destination, I felt Spiti had taken me over entirely. The sound of cymbals still resonating in my head and the loose clouds flowing past the valleys in great speed, Spiti adorned me with a true lifetime!
If you are on a budget trip then you can follow the same itinerary and stay at mentioned places (do check reviews before bookings if you are solo).
If you are a Solo Traveler and want to explore Spiti with a group of Solo Travelers then join our next group trip to Spiti from 29-June-18 to 07-July-18.
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