Spiti is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. And whosoever has visited this place will agree with me. Spiti is also known as the ‘Middle Land’, mainly because it lies right in the middle of Tibet and India. It is also known as the cold dessert. Why? It looks like a dessert, however, despite being a barren land made of nothing but sand, the temperature here is very cold on the other hand.
Further, I cannot stress enough that if India is in your bucket list then apart from places like Goa, Jaipur, New Delhi in India. Spiti must also be on your bucket list. You won’t be able to find such a beautiful landscape anywhere else in the world.
Why One Should Visit – About Spiti Valley
Spiti is one of those hill stations that is isolated from the rest of the world. Quite literally, since this place is far off amidst the upper ranges of Himalayas. To reach her by roads can take days for the very least. Apart from this, Spiti offers a completely different landscape, as well as, culture, food, vibes, etc.
Below, I am listing down 5 top reasons why one should visit Spiti –
- Beautiful yet the oldest monasteries – Every village in Spiti will have a monastery where you can find peace and serenity at the same time. You can find major monasteries in – Kee, Dhankar Village, Tabo, Kungri and Kaza. The monasteries are dated as back as 996 AD.
- Has the world’s highest motorable village – Komic is the most famous village of Spiti. The village population is just 50 to 60 people only and lies at 15,000 feet above the sea level. Also, Komic village is the highest motorable village.
- Has the Highest Post office of the World – Hikkim is nestled at an elevation of 14,500 feet. It is a small village in Spiti and has the world’s highest post office. Hikkim is just 15 KMs away from Kaza and you can send letters and postcards from here to your loved ones.
- The beautiful lakes of Spiti – The lakes here are so beautiful that I am sure you would not have experienced it anywhere else in the world. Some of the popular ones are – Chandratal Lake, Suraj Taal, Dhankar Lake.
- Experience quaint homestays – Spiti has numerous homestays where you can stay in. these places will make you feel at home – a home away from home. They also serve home cooked food as well.
Places to See
Below I am listing down the places in order that one can visit. The tour starts from Reckong Peo which is a part of Kinnaur district. From here you can move to the remaining places in the respective order as given below –
Nako is two hours away from Reckong Peo and this is the place where the actual tour to Spiti starts. One loses the mobile coverage after entering this area. The only sim that works here is of BSNL. Nako lake and an old monastery which dates back to 996 A.D are a famous site to see in Nako Village.
The place is really picturesque and if you hike a bit from the village you will be able to see the bird’s eye view of the entire village area.
The next stop from Nako is Tabo which is again two hours away. Tabo is famous to have the oldest functioning monastery. It also has some caves, which is famous for its history. It is said that in these caves monks used to reside during the early days. Now the caves are used for meditation purposes.
The monastery is really beautiful and the work of art is commendable. Rich with history this place should not be missed.
If you want a touch of an ancient royal feeling this place would be heaven for you. The unique mud structures are amazing to see. Further, you can hike and see the Dhankar Lake right in the idle of snow peaked mountains.
Apart from this, there is another monastery which is built on a 300-meter spur. The monastery, although, needs funds right now in order to avoid the fallout.
Kaza is the capital of Spiti. This village is an interconnecting village to every other place in Spiti and acts as a hub of resources you need. You will be able to get an Internet access in this place, along with the options for renting bikes. It has a market area where you will be able to find all the necessities, along with petrol pumps and ATMs, which other places of Spiti lack.
The circuit of Langza, Hikkim and Komic are completed together. Tourists usually rent active from Kaza to reach these places. Langza is famous for its budha statue, while Komic is said to have the highest motorable village and one can feel the difference in the oxygen level here.
Hikkim has the world’s highest post office and it will be really amazing to share postcards to your loved ones from here.
Kibber/ Kee Monastery
If you visit Kibber during the winter season you will be able to spot the snow leopards, the famous blue cat. Snow leopards come down to the village as the entire village gets covered in snow.
Further down from here, you can see the Kee Gompa. This is the most beautiful site I have witnessed and the monastery is so huge that you can spot it from a far off distance. This monastery has also gone through several natural and man-made calamities and every effort were made to restore this place. If you are going to Spiti, do not miss out on this place at all.
How to Reach
Spiti lies in the northernmost region of India. There are several ways that one can follow to reach here. Tourists generally prefer to come on their own by riding bikes. Mostly because the landscape is really beautiful and the drive gets adventurous due to dangerous roads and sharp pins. However, you can also fly directly to Spiti to explore the place if you have less time in hand. Either way, you won’t regret it.
Below I am listing down all the different ways that you can follow to reach here –
There are flights available between Delhi and Shimla. The flight duration is for an hour and the ticket fare remains more than INR 5,000/-.
If budget is the constraint and you want to experience the Spiti valley in the rawest manner, then buses are the best option for you. Buses have a specific time and the frequency of it from one place to another is low. But if you will follow the timings of the buses and are punctual, it won’t be a problem.
I can assure you on this since I have travelled to Spiti valley by buses itself.
If you are coming from the capital city of India – Delhi, you would need to reach Reckong Peo first. Reckong Peo is the main town of Kinnaur district and takes almost 18 hours of bus ride to reach here.
Although you can also split the route into two and take a halt in Shimla. Shimla is the most beautiful hill station of India and lies right in the middle of Delhi and Reckong Peo.
From Reckong Peo, the bus leaves early in the morning for Spiti Valley at 7 AM. I would suggest you book for the tickets at least one hour in advance. Also, there are no online bookings for these buses. You have to buy the ticket directly from the bus stand itself.
The places in Spiti are close by. It takes a maximum of three hours to reach a place by bus and usually from every place the bus leaves early in the morning.
I am listing down the bus timings from every individual place below –
Nako – After Reckong Peo, the first village that comes on the way to Spiti Valley is Nako. There are two buses that leave from here for Spiti. One is at 12 PM and the other one is at 2 PM.
Tabo – Tabo again has two buses that leave for Dhankar Village. You can either catch a bus that leaves in the morning at 10 AM or another one that leaves during the afternoon at 3 PM.
Dhankar Village – There are no direct buses to Dhankar Village. You can either go to Sichlling Village and from there you can either hitchhike to Dhankar village or hire a cab.
From Sichling Village there is a bus at 6 AM and another one is at 2 PM for Kza.
From Kaza things become fairly simple, as it is the centre point to all the remaining places. There is an option of taking a bike or a two-wheeler on a rent that I would highly recommend. However, there are buses as well, to several places except for Langza, Hikkim and Komic. To reach Langza, Hikkim and Komic you would be needing a cab or a bike since buses do not go to these places.
Renting a bike from Kaza won’t be an issue. There are several shops that have this facility.
Also, to reach Pin Valley, I would highly suggest you take a bike. The bus does not stop on the way and Pin Valley is a kind of a place where you would like to stop at every corner of the valley.
Kibber and Kee Monastery – Kee Monastery is right in between Kaza and Kibber. There is a bus that leaves from Kaza at 4 PM for Kibber. You can either stop at Kee and spend a night here or head straight to Kibber which is just an hour away from Kaza.
The same bus that leaves for Kibber returns early in the morning and leaves the Chichim Village at 8 AM.
Where to Stay
Finding a hotel or a homestay in Spiti won’t be a problem. Although dorms or homestay are not available. You can easily get a room in a good hotel for INR 1,000.
Further, in a homestay, the family also serves home cooked food as well which helps in gaining a different experience all together of the mountains. Staying in a local’s house won’t only help you in understanding the culture a little better but is also a different experience and they make you feel at home.
Another thing that I would like to share is, you can also stay in a monastery.
Things to do in Spiti
- Yak safari – Yak is an animal which is found in the high altitude regions of India, that is in the Himalayas. It is an experience to walk amidst the mountains on this hairy yet soft animal.
- Indulge in rafting – Rafting is another experience that one should have on the rivers of Pin and Spiti. It is really thrilling to raft amidst the snowy mountains and seeing the monasteries during this adventure.
- Capturing milky way – Since the villages are above the height of 10,000 feet one can spot the milky way easily here. Stargazing becomes really beautiful and one can capture the milky way at its best here.
- Go for fossil hunting – If you will go to Kibber and Langza area, you can hunt for fossils. Yep, actual fossils. There are so many fossils present in these villages that you would be able to find one easily. If not, then you can easily buy it from the local kids from that place who sell them as souvenirs.
- Interact with the locals – Another thing that you should not miss out on is interacting with the locals. The place is so much rich with history and the ethics and nature of the people here are really worth the experience.
Where to Eat
I would highly recommend you to try the food in the homestays itself. there are although many cafes and restaurants where you can taste both Indian and Tibetan food, but the real pleasure would be in the homestays itself.
Try Spitian daal and rice along with the vegetables which is their staple cuisine. Although villages won’t have many restaurants to choose from as an option, however, one can easily stroll around in Kaza and pick the best fit.
Travel To Spiti in India and Make Lasting Memories!
Spiti is a place of immense beauty and one can never go to Spiti once and say that I will never go back. The landscapes here are really different and amazingly beautiful and the experience here is one of a kind. Do tick this off whenever you visit India. It will give you a lifetime of memories.