It’s time to find some peace with adventure!
The level of peace and serenity offered by mountainous landscapes in India is unmatchable. Nestling many hill stations, these mountains have always attracted travellers, giving them a break from the hustle and bustle of a crowded metropolis. If you are one of those avid travellers, for whom mountains form a second home, then there is one hilly paradise that you must visit: the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh.
Be it the calmness of a cold desert, mind-blowing trekking trails or picturesque mountains- the Spiti Valley fulfils all your expectations of a perfect hill destination. However, its attractions does not limit to these. To figure out more, read below.
For some people, the journey to a certain place is more enthusiastic than the actual destination. Well, the road to Spiti Valley echoes the same. A biker’s paradise, the rugged terrains of the Spiti Valley is perfect for a road trip. The location of 12,500 feet above the sea level, sky-touching mountains and the twisting turns of the Himalayan-Tibet highway – all makes the road trip to Spiti an unforgettable experience. The ride becomes more exciting as it takes you through beautiful landscapes and villages while making you relish the Himalayan vastness. However, if a road trip is not your cup of tea, then you can hop on to buses running to Spiti once or twice a day. Whichever way you are in for, the journey to Spiti gives you memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Note: One thing to keep in mind is that if you have decided for a road trip or a trek, do a prior research on the weather conditions of the region. Generally, the roads and passes are open during May to November and remain closed in the rest of the months. This might change depending on the unpredictable climate of the place. So, before you decide on something, check-up a few details before you land up on the actual grounds.
The Spiti-an Lifestyle
Keylong is a pretty little town that is the administrative headquarters of the Lahaul-Spiti district, situated on the river banks of Bhaga. Other villages in the Spiti Valley are small where residents offer accommodation for the visitors at the cost of around Rs. 300/person. One can stay in their homes and delicious food accompanied by the warm hospitality of the residents is guaranteed. An award-winning social enterprise, Ecosphere maintains the sustainable development here providing all kinds of comfort to the residents and travellers alike. Apart from this, another main attraction is the inhospitable village of Giu. A small village in the valley, it attracts countless of visitors because of the presence of the Lama Mummy: a 500-year old mummy of a Tibetan monk Sangha Tezin which seems to guard the village.
Its Spiritual Side
Spiti is home to various monasteries; the Key (Ki) Gompa being the biggest of all of them. This 11th Century monastery is tucked on top of hill lying beside the Spiti River and is a training centre for the Lamas. Another fascinating monastery is the Dhankar Gompa. Established 1000 years ago, it lies among rocks and provides accommodation and food at the cost of around Rs. 150/ person. In addition to this, the Tabo monastery is the oldest Buddhist monastery that has still preserved some original paintings and artefacts in its premises. Other monasteries in Spiti include Tangyud Monastery nearby Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, the Gungri Monastery and the Saskyagongmig Gompa. For all those who seek spiritual rejuvenation with adventure, there are also affordable guest houses near some of these monasteries.
Trek your Way
With its scenic topographies, lush green valleys and treacherous terrains, Spiti offers some apt locations for offbeat trekking expeditions. For learners and inexperienced trekkers, the Hampta-Pass-Chandra Taal trek is an ideal option. One can travel through the green Deodar forests amid Chandra valley passing by Chandra Taal and reach Spiti with starting point being the Hampta Village. For all the brave hearts, the Pin-Parvati trek forms an unyielding journey. The starting point is Manikaran, from where one can start moving ahead towards Parvati Pass in Kullu and Spiti, till you reach Manali passing by Kaza and Rohtang Pass. The doorway to Spiti, Kunzum La and the relentless Rohtang Pass towards the south of Lahaul-Spiti offers tedious trekking trails for all those adventurous junkies who revel in taking risks.
Adventures of White-Water Rafting
Adding to Rishikesh and Laddakh, Spiti has many river rafting opportunities for all those adventurous souls who like battling the fierce water rapids of fast-flowing rivers. The small town of Keylong, lying beside the Bhaga stream is a newly-found water rafting destination in India. The entire rafting course lets you face the uncontrollable rapids while making you explore the picture-perfect Lahaul Valley, Chandrabhaga Peak and Bara Shigri Glacier.
Calmness of Lakes
The picturesque landscape of the Spiti Valley cradles some of the best lakes that embellish India’s natural treasures. The Chandra Taal, that is located around 14,000 above sea level, is a shimmering lake that gives the Spiti Valley its unique charm. The name translates into Lake of the Moon, and an interesting fact to note about this lake is that there are no apparent inlets that brims this water body. Cars are not allowed near the Chandra Taal and thanks to this, the lake is still untouched with any kind of commercialisation. The Dhankar Lake in addition to the Suraj Taal, are other lakes found in this region adding to its natural appeal.
If you are staying in a monastery, it is most likely that you will get a chance to savour the local vegetarian meals. On the other hand, staying with the local residents will let you explore the homemade rural food marvels on a platter. A wide variety of dishes including goat sausages, Thukpa, pava, Khambir and Sku will definitely tickle your taste buds and will hook you forever to this land. Few sips of flavoured tea and local alcohols will rejuvenate your taste-buds in addition to letting you beat the chilly weather. All in all, the best way to explore the local culture of Spiti, gorging on its foodie delights completes your fun-packed vacation.
It is true that the road to Spiti is not easy; but what you get at the end of an arduous journey is a destination that is just dream like. So, let’s travel a bit offbeat and discover few lands like Spiti that gives you an unforgettable travel experience.