We start our Spiti Valley tour from the wide and urban roads of Delhi Chandigarh and drive through the lush green countryside of the state of Punjab. Shimla is most favourite and visited hill station of India. Shimla, with its colourful bazaars and cool mountain air, is situated in the lower range of the Himalayas and is nestled at 7200 feet.We reach Shimla by late afternoon / evening and spend the night at a comfortable hotel / resort.
Today, after a sumptuous breakfast, you could choose to go a relaxed sightseeing tour covering the religious and cultural centres of Shimla including the Christ Church and Hindu temples such as Kalbadevi Temple, Jakhu Temple and the Hanuman Temple. Later in the afternoon, you can choose to go on an excursion to Kufri, popularly known as the snow-point of Shimla and famous for its panoramic views.We return to Shimla for the evening and spend the night at a comfortable hotel.
Today, we start driving early, towards Sarahan – the former summer capital of the Bushahr kingdom. Sarahan is extremely famous for the Bhima Kali temples and according to several sources, it was an important 18th century religious centre where human sacrifices were carried out to appease the Gods. Just behind the Bhim Kali temples lies the flamboyant early 19th century Shanti Kung Palace – built by the last Maharaja of Bushahr – definitely worth a visit.
Today, we drive higher, into Sangla Valley, into the district of Kinnaur.The Batseri Village here is a must visit. An old-fashioned bridge built over the Baspa River leads you to Batseri and its cobble-stoned streets and the local temple of Badri Narayan. Art lovers have much to appreciate in the architecture. After this, visit the Kamru Fort – This five-storied tower type fort rests on 55 square feet of stone platform and was built by Dev Puran. The delicately intricate carvings of the wooden verandas and miniature temple are a sight to behold. We spend the night at a comfortable hotel / guest house in Sangla.
Chitkul is the last Indian village at the frontier and has a population of roughly 700 people. The extensive Nila range where the greenish-blue Baspa River originates, corates India on one side and Tibet on the other. At a height of 3450m, Chitkul is picture-perfect The temples of the local Goddess, ‘Mathi’ are well-worth visiting as well; some of them are as old as 500 years.We return to Sangla for the night and spend the night at a comfortable hotelguest house.
Today, we drive to Reckong Peo – the district capital of Kinnaur. If you require a permit to enter Spiti Valley, this is where we get it. Once we are done with the formalities, we head up higher on a seven kilometre winding road, to the quaint village of Kalpa – a gem of a little destination with enthrallingly majestic views of the Kinner Kailash and Jorkandan Peaks looming right above the village.While here, visit the striking Kinnauri-style temples or the colourful Samdrup Choeling Gompa. By the side of the Kinner Kailash is the 79 foot high single rock which resembles the Shivalinga, and is known for its colour-changing properties as the day wears on. We spend the night at comfortable hotel in Kalpa.
After a delicious breakfast, we continue driving on the Hindustan – Tibet Highway. On this stretch of the road, the colour of the landscape changes from an emerald lush green to a desolate brown as we drive on the what some call, ‘the world’s most treacherous and beautiful roads.’Your experienced driver will navigate these roads with great care and skill as you begin to embrace the jaw-dropping landscape. We pass through Puh – where we stop at the last fuel station on this stretch of the road. A refill later, we proceed to Nako – the last hamlet of Kinnaur, before we enter the gates of Spiti Valley. Overnight at a basic guest house in Nako.
Today, explore the nearby Nako monastery or find yourself at peace, just watching the reflections of the clouds taking a walk on the exquisitely beautiful oval shaped lake, protected by all sides by the mighty high Himalayas.You could also choose to take a short trek up higher into the remote untouched mountains if you want to hear the sound of the Mountains and the witness the spectacle of solace. Overnight at Nako in a basic guest house.
After breakfast, we cross into Spiti Valley through a traditional arch that welcomes us to Sumdoh. We continue driving into the rugged and arid terrain and takea pit stop to explore Gue.Gue is famous for a monastery that houses a 500 year naturally mummified monk. If legend is to be believed, the lama named Sangha Tenzin mummified himself to free his village from the plague of scorpions.We continue our journey and head to Tabo – also known as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’. Tabo houses the 1010 year-old Tabo Monastery – which is a UNESCO world heritage site and is famous for its ancient paintings that depict the life of The Buddha, and intricate portraits of gods and demons along with life-size statues of bodhisattvas in a fusion of western Tibetan, Indian and Kashmiri styles.
Today, we take a short drive to Demul – another beautiful high altitude Spiti Valley village. At 4400 meters, Demul is a village which redefines remoteness. Devoid of any cell-phone or internet reception, this quiet and quaint village is home to less than 50 families. You are free to explore the postcard-like scenery of the village on your own, or you could opt for a short yak safari. If the season is right, you could harvest Yher leaves that are used to make momo fillings. Learn how to expertlymake momos and have a delicious self-made momo dinner. Overnight stay at a homestay in Demul.
We take the road towards Kaza and take a detour. Perched high above the confluence of the Spiti and Pin River, in a hidden bowl, is the tiny hamlet of Dhankar.The former capital of the Royals of Spiti Valley, also known as the Nono, who ruled the dust-coloured badlands of Spiti Valley, go back in time as you explore the 1200-year-old Dhankar Gompa which perches precariously between eroded rocky pinnacles on the edge of a cliff.If time permits, do take an hour’s climb above the village to visit the stunning turquoise Dhankar Tso or Dhankar Lake which offers views over the valley and towards the twin peaks of Mane Rang (6593 meters).
Today we start our drive into Pin Valley. About 2 kilometres above Gulling, at Kungri, we visit the 600-year-old Ugyen Sangnak Choling Gompa which has a huge monastery building that houses about 60 resident Lamas. Declared a national park in 1987, Pin Valley is home to the endangered snow leopard. In addition, other animals indigenous to the region and park are the Siberian ibex, bharal, weasel, red fox and marten. Birds such as the pika, griffon, golden eagle, bearded vulture, chukor and raven paint the skies a pretty picture. From Kungri, we head southwest, to the charming village of Mudh where we spend the night in a basic guest house run by a warm hospitable family.
Overlooked by rugged and jagged mountains on both sides, today we drive to the district capital of Spiti Valley – Kaza. Home to colourful festivals and the ancient Sakya Tangyud Monastery, Kaza is the ideal base camp for all Spiti Valley treks.Cell phones and internet work well here and it’s a good time to catch up with the family and friends back home and let them know about your fantastic experiences so far.
Today, we first drive up the world-famous Key Monastery. With over 1000 years’ worth stories to tell, the Key Monastery is situated at a height of 13,668 feet.It was founded by a disciple of the famous Atisha, in the 11th century CE. This monastery is famous as a prominent centre of learning as well as refuge for Tibetans. After spending a couple of hours at the monastery, we drive to the village of Kibber. Perched at a height of 4205m, this formerly highest permanently inhabited village of this region, is also a popular base camp to embark on adventure and treks to adjoining mountains of high altitude. Houses constructed in the Tibetan architectural style are predominant and the fertility of the rich lands makes agriculture the primary source of livelihood.
From Kaza, we drive to the highest village in Asia – Komik.Komik, which literally translates to ‘eye of a snow cock’, is situated at a height of 4513m. This farming village has a population of 84 people, living in utter isolation, cut-off from the rest of the world for most parts of the year.Komik Lundup Chhemo is one of the highest monasteries in the world, set in a very picturesque background. Their famous annual festival, attended mostly by Spitians and a bare handful oftravellers, is an event to certainly take part in.
From one high village, we travel to another. This time, Langza.Langza village is situated at an altitude of 4400 meters and belongs to the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Langza houses a population of 137 in 33 households.Once you are here, you can walk about the village and visit the ancient Lang (Temple) which is estimated to be around 1000 years old. At Langza, trek back to the prehistoric era when Spiti was submerged by the Tethys Sea, as you explore a land very rich with fossils of Marine animals and plants which were here millions of years ago.
Today we return to our base in Kaza to rest at the comfortable Spiti Sarai Hotel in Rangrik.You are free to take a walk around the village of Rangrik or you can spend time in the garden / balcony and soak in the view.
Today, we commence our journey back home. However, we take one last stop at another Spitian wonder – Chandratal Lake.The mystical and beautiful Chandratal Lake, which translates to Moon Lake, is located at a height of 14,100 feet. The Chandra Bhaga mountain range forms a striking backdrop for the lake, which changes appearance according to the pictures painted in the sky. Overnight stay at a camp near Chandratal Lake.
We wake up to a delicious breakfast. If time permits, we can visit the lake one more time before we bid goodbye to Spiti Valley.We continue driving on the Kaza Manali road and after a few hours of driving and some more stunning landscape, we pass through the famous Rohtang Pass and reach Manali where we check into a comfortable hotel and end our Spiti Valley tour.