About Spiti Valley
Long winding roads and valleys that present unforgettable glimpses of cold desert and snow-crowned mountains welcome you when you set foot into Spiti Valley. Bordered on all sides by the Himalayas, Spiti Valley, located in Himachal Pradesh, has an altitude of 12,500 feet above sea level, and gets just around 250 days of sunshine in the year, making it one of the coldest places in the country. With the thick Himalayan snow cutting Spiti off from the rest of the country for around 6 months a year, the summer months are the only time Spiti is directly accessible via motorway. The term Spiti means 'The Middle Land', as Spiti Valley separates India from Tibet. Scantily populated, Spiti is an adventure lover’s paradise, with a number of trekking trails that tourists can choose from. All of these treks start from Kaza (Spiti’s capital from where you make your base camp) to various peaks from where you can get panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains. An easy 1.5-kilometre trek along the Spiti River from Dhankar Monastery to Dhankar Lake promises gorgeous views of the villages below. The Dhankar Lake itself is a place where you can sit back and relax amidst the cool mountain air. The mountain ropeway from Kibber to Chichum is also another popular tourist attraction that offers spectacular views of the gorge below, as well a bird’s eye view of the surrounding peaks.
The unspoilt, serene and picturesque village of Nako is located in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh at a height of around 3600m. Nako is found at the east end of Kinnaur Valley and can be called almost the last attraction on the way to Malling Nullah. Malling Nullah is located in between Kinnaur and Spiti Valley and one of the most happening travel destinations of Himachal Pradesh. Nako lies on the region close to Tibbetan Border and travellers thus need to possess inner line permit to travel to this region. Inner line permits are required for the foreign nationals for overnight stay in any part of the village Nako. As the village is very small in its area, one can easily explore the hidden gems of this village on foot. The major attraction of Nako Village is the Nako Lake which is located amidst extremely hilly terrains. Close to this lake one can get to see four Buddhist monasteries and a huge footlike impression.
A must see tourist spot for the solitude lovers and avid worshipper of nature, Lipa Asrang Sanctuary is around at a height of 4,000 to 5,022 m. The sanctuary is spread over an area of around 30.89 sq km. The variety of flora found in this sanctuary includes dry coniferous forest, dry alpine scrub, dwarf juniper scrub, dry broad leaves, western Himalayan temperate forest, and coniferous forest. The most commonly found fauna in this sanctuary are Yak, Leopard, Ibex, Goral, Brown Bear, Blue Sheep, Himalayan black Beer, Musk Deer etc. Random tourists are not allowed to enter this sanctuary. So they need to take prior permission to explore the sanctuary.
A relatively unknown travel destination on the way to Chitkul via Sangla, Rakcham is found at a height of around 2900m. A sparse population of around 800 people inhabit the village. While moving towards Chitkul from Sangla, the village is found on the left side of the main road and the river Baspa flows on the right. The inhabitants of Rakcham are known as Kinnaurs and mostly nomadic. The men in Rakchum normally take care of the herd of sheep and cows whereas women tend to farming and household chores. During winter the village the village remains under thick snow coverings and people move to the lower regions. They move to the village again in April to sow the seeds. The village has two temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali.
Suraj Tal Lake, Spiti Valley
Located at an elevation of 4950 m above the sea level, Suraj Tal Lake is considered as the 3rd largest lake in India. Situated in Spiti Valley, Suraj Tale In literal sense means, ‘The Lake of Sun God’. Just below the Baralacha pass, the stunning lake should definitely be visited while here, especially if they are into photography. The Suraj Tal, is one of the most dream-like and photogenic lakes. Due to the belief that a dip in the Suraj Tal lake cleanses a person of his sins, it attracts a lot of people and is therefore considered spiritual. However, the major reason that the lake has gained popularity is that it comes en-route to the famous Manali-Leh path that is popular for trekking and biking trips, that also encompasses the Baralacha-La Pass on the way. Suraj Tal is, thus, meant for people who are mostly adventurous, and religious at the same time.
Pin Valley National Park, Spiti Valley
Set amidst semi-frozen rivers in the Pin Valley, the Pin Valley National Park is situated in the Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve situated in the Lahaul and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh. The elevation of the park ranges from about 3,500 metres near Ka Dogri to more than 6,000 metres at its pinnacle. One of the fascinating facilities of its kind, the Pin Valley National Park is home to the rare species of famous Himalayan snow leopards and their prey, the Ibex. The National Park is most famous for its incredible trek which is a delight for all its visitors. It snows for the most part of the year rendering the trek a thrilling and adventurous expedition. However, make sure you obtain the required permits. Also, foreign nations are not allowed inside the park. The Pin Valley park’s core zone is sprawled across a vast area of 675 sq km while its buffer zone is extended over almost 1150 sq km. Today it is home to almost more than 20 species of flora and fauna including the endangered snow leopard which is the most significant inhabitant of Pin Valley Park. There are also Siberian Ibex, Bharal, red fox, weasel and marten that call this place their home. Several species of birds also inhabit in the region such as pika, snow cock, bearded vulture, chukor, golden eagle, griffon, Himalayan chough and raven.
Kunzum Pass, Spiti Valley
Kunzum Pass or Kunzum La, as it is called by locals, is one of the highest motorable mountain passes of India, located at an altitude of 4,551m above mean sea level. It serves as a gateway to the beautiful Spiti valley Via Kullu and Lahaul. It lies on the eastern Kunzum Range of the Himalayas and is at a distance of 122 km from Manali. Kunzum La offers an incredible 360-degree view of Bara- Shigri Glacier (the second longest glacier in the world), a jaw-dropping vista of Chandrabhaga Range and a spectacular view of the Spiti valley. This enthralling view makes Kunzum Pass a photographer's dream. There is a 15km trek to the famous Chandratal Lake (moon lake) from Kunzum Pass. It is believed that the visitors have to stop at the temple of Goddess Kunzum Devi, on their way to the pass, to pay their respect and seek the blessing to travel safely through the rugged terrain safely. The tradition is to take a complete circle of the temple in your vehicle.
Key Monastery, Spiti Valley
The Key Monastery is a famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Lahaul and Spiti District of India. Located at an altitude of 4,166 metres above the sea level, the monastery is very close to the Spiti River in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh in India. Also known as the Kye Monastery and Ki Monastery, it is believed to have been founded by Dromton, who was a student of the famous teacher Atisha in the 11th century. The stunning Key Monastery is over a thousand years old and is also the largest monastery to be found in the entire Spiti Valley. The magnificent monastery doubles up as a religious training centre for the Lamas, and about 300 lamas receive their education from here. It has a long and quite fascinating history that is attached to it: a long history that involves numerous attacks that the place had to face. Nevertheless, Kye Monastery survived and celebrated the completion of its thousand years in the year 2000 in the presence of Dalai Lama. Today, the Key Monastery is visited not only by locals but also by tourists from all parts of the country who come looking for it in order to seek quietude, silence and inner tranquillity.
Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley
A camper and trekker's paradise, Chandratal Lake is often referred to as one of the most beautiful lakes located at an altitude of about 4300 m in the mighty Himalayas. The stunning lake is situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau which overlooks the Chandra River. The name "Chandra Taal" (Lake of the Moon) comes from its crescent shape. This lake is also one of two high-altitude wetlands of India that have been designated as Ramsar sites. Once a tentative residence for Tibetan traders traveling to Spiti and the Kullu valley, it attracts thousands of adventure enthusiasts from all over the world. Legend has that the Chandratal Lake lies in the vicinity of a place from where God Indra's chariot picked up Yudhishthira, the eldest of Pandava brothers in Mahabharata. This fact renders the lake sacred and thus, is flocked by a lot of Hindu devotees. The colour of water of this holy lake keeps changing from reddish to orange to blue to emerald green as the day ends. Vast stretches of green meadows house the best camping sites and an array of different wildflowers during springtime. The trek from Batal to Chandratal can be quite a tedious trail, but the captivating views and charm of the place will be worth it. The sun's light reflecting on the surface of the astounding Chandratal Lake makes it seem crystal clear.
Adrenaline junkies looking for more than a yak safari or trekking should go whitewater rafting. Snowy mountains, hilltop monasteries, whitewashed settlements and wonderful scenery around every bend, Spiti is a perfect place to enjoy this water sport. The Spiti and Pin Rivers offer whitewater rafting opportunities.
To experience Spiti like a local, opt for a local ride; that is, a yak safari. Almost all village families have at least one yak. If you aren’t up for trekking, this is a perfect alternative.
Perched at 3,200 meters (10,499 ft), the village of Giu is home to a 500-year old mummy kept in a glass chamber. It’s a naturally preserved ,with hair and teeth intact. According to local folklore, the mummy is of a meditating lama, whose body was buried under a glacier during an avalanche, remaining there for more than 500 years until it was found by Indo-Tibetan police force personnel. Some consider it a living god and believe it has been looking after the hamlet for centuries. There are many explanations for its existence, but whatever the truth, it is worth visiting.
Joining a trekking expedition for as little as two days or as long as ten will allow you to camp out or sleep in tiny hamlets along the way. The Spiti Valley offers all kinds of trekking trails and of varying grades of difficulty. Some of the popular ones are: Village to village treks are also possible, like Kaza to Langza, Komic to Lalung via Demul, Lalung to Kaza via Dhankar and Tabo
Bike and trek in nature
Be one with nature at the emerald-green Suraj Taal, meaning ‘Lake of the Sun God’. Fed with the Bara-lacha-la Glacier, it is the third highest lake in the country, at an altitude of 4,883 meters (16,020 ft). The area around the lake is perfect for mountain biking and trekking. It also happens to be a pit-stop for trekkers and mountain bikers on the famous Manali-Leh trail.
Camp at Chandra Taal Lake
Because of its crescent shape, this lake is known as Chandra Taal, meaning ‘Lake of the Moon’. It is situated at 4,300 meters (14,107 ft) in the lap of the Himalayas, and is characterized by vast swathes of green meadows and a backdrop of snow-covered mountains, which makes it perfect for camping with an incredible view. A major highlight of this lake is that it changes its colour throughout the day, turning an emerald green as the day ends. Tip: Visit from May to September, as the rest of the year it remains frozen. Chandra Taal Lake, Middle Himalaya, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
Spiti is a religious and cultural center for Buddhists, and many Buddhist monasteries are scattered throughout the valley. The biggest Tibetan monastery is the fort-like Key (Ki) Monastery, set at an elevation of 4,166 meters (13,668 ft) and overlooking the Spiti River. Otherwise known as Key Gompa, this monastery was built in the Pasada style of architecture. The interiors are adorned with unique and rare Thangkas, ancient murals and weapons, along with the images of Gautam Buddha. The scenic backdrop provided by the snow-laden peaks and glaciers add to its charm. Try visiting this monastery in late July, during the annual three-day Chaam festival, where masked dances, spinning prayer wheels and ancient rituals will transport you into the spiritual trance. Tip: Trek your way to the monastery or rent a car/hitch-hike. There are no eateries there, so pack some food to take. The best time to visit is May to October.
Lahaul and Spiti are separated from Kullu by the Rohtang pass and Kunzum pass and it lies on the Manali-Leh highway. This route is fine to reach Spiti valley during the summers but is inaccessible for most parts of the year due to heavy snowfall. However, Spiti valley is accessible throughout the year though from Shimla via Kinnaur (except for occasional disturbances due to landslides or heavy snowfall).
The Himachal state transport runs buses through both routes in summers, however just a bus through the Shimla-Kinnaur-Kaza route. Direct buses are available from Chandigarh, Shimla, Kullu, Manali and some other parts of North India.
The nearest broad gauge railway station from Spiti which have good connectivity is in Chandigarh. Jogindernagar also has a railway station which is nearest to Spiti, but it has very poor connectivity.
There is no direct flight connectivity to Spiti Valley. The nearest airport is in Bhuntar, near Kullu, 245 km away from the same. However, Bhuntar airport is small with limited operations. Chandigarh Airport, located at a distance of 522 km is the nearest international airport.
Hotel Shidharth and Restaurant
Hotel Siddarth at Tabo has been renovated and more rooms are added. There are total 14 room sets now and a rooftop restaurant has been added from where you can have the beautiful panoramic view of village, Apple orchards, farms, Tabo caves, cave mona
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