By Anjana Sudev
‘Spiti’ which translates to ‘The Middle Land’, is one of the most picturesque locations in India. It is a cold desert region located in between India and Tibet, which makes it true to its name. Travelling to this part of the country and witnessing the breathtaking views surrounded by the Great Himalayan ranges has been my dream since many years. So this time, without a second thought, I took off to live my dream life near the mountains for 10 days!
Spiti valley is the land that lifts your spirits. It is the land where you forget all the hustles and bustles of city life. Even in the freezing cold at night, you would want to lay back and watch the night sky lit with stars! Apart from the mystic mountain views and terrain, the place is known for the Buddhist monasteries spread across and of course, the Spiti river streaming its way around the valley.
Mesmerizing view from Spiti
Since I started my journey from Chandigarh through Shimla, I visited the places in the following order : Chandigarh – Kalpa – Chitkul – Reckong Peo – Nako – Tabo – Kaza
There are two ways to reach Spiti:
1 .From Manali side – via Rohtang Pass and Kunzum La to Kaza.
This is possible only during the months of June to August when both the passes are open. Keep in mind to check the route status if you plan to take this route, since there could be road blocks due to snowfall and landslides. If you chose to take public transportation in this route, there are direct buses to Kaza starting from Manali.
2.From Shimla/Chandigarh to Reckong Peo.
The best choice would be to take the state government (Himachal Pradesh) run buses, since the drivers are always updated about the routes and know the terrain so well. I had made plans to visit Kalpa and Kinnaur valley which is another beautiful part of the state with mesmerizing views of the mountain ranges. All the buses to places in Kinnaur valley also starts from Reckong Peo. Buses to Kaza (small township in Spiti valley) also ply from the same bus stand. It takes around 9-10 hrs over the roads, which are considered to be the most dangerous (at the same time thrilling!) roads of India.My trip started from the city of Bengaluru (in Karnataka) from where I took a flight to Chandigarh. On reaching Chandigarh, I took a HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) bus to Reckong Peo. Most buses to Spiti start from Reckong Peo. Since the buses are not regular in this route, the travel needs to be planned accordingly.
The beautiful view of the mountain ranges from Reckong Peo
I visited Kalpa and Chitkul over 3 days. Roads to Chitkul are very narrow and rugged which might be scary for first timers in this region. But keep calm, because the bus drivers are super skilled and have been driving the route for years. Basically, no one else knows the roads more than them. So relax, and enjoy the view! Make sure to check the bus timings to Chitkul and Kalpa once you arrive at Reckong Peo bus stand on the first day, so that you can manage the timings to roam around Kinnaur valley. Once you reach Kaza, the best option to cover all the must-visit places is to hire a cab, or join a group in a shared taxi. I had joined the friends I made there in a shared taxi and visited most places of the gorgeous landscapes of Spiti.
The Spiti Experience
Even though Kalpa and Chitkul are not part of Spiti valley, these are places not to be missed. Kalpa has majestic views and Chitkul is considered to be the last Indian village on Tibet Border with great views of Baspa river alongside the mountains. After visiting Chitkul, I returned back to Reckong Peo and stayed at a hotel nearby in order to catch an early morning bus to Kaza for a ride of 9 hrs. I could only explore Nako for as much time as the bus stopped for a 45-mins break, but it is best recommended to stay at the Nako Monastery for the night and visit the Nako lake and take the same bus next day from Nako to Kaza. After Nako comes Tabo, where you can visit the Tabo Monastery, which can be visited from Nako or Kaza by hiring a car. For me, the bus had a breakdown at Tabo and luckily, the monastery was just at 1 km distance which made it a quick and easy visit. So after a long journey, the bus reached Kaza at around 5 PM and it was just the night for me to wonder gaze at the stars. Once you reach Spiti, you will come across people greeting you ‘Julley’! That’s their ‘Hello’/’Namaste’ in local dialect called ‘Bodhi’ which is found spoken across the Ladakhi Region.
Day 1 – Hikkim, Kibber and Komic
The days at Kaza has been mesmerizing. On the first day, I visited Hikkim, the village with the world’s highest post office and Komic, which is the World’s highest village connected by motorable road and Kibber, another village at high altitude which has Key Monastery and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Key Monastery is a place where you experience tranquility like no other. I was greeted by a few friendly priests inside, who offered a special kind of tea (which lifted my spirits!!) to all the visitors of the monastery and answered all the curious questions on Buddhism. I also got a chance to visit the recently constructed Chicham Bridge which connects the two villages of Kibber and Chicham, which also happens to be the current highest bridge of Asia!
Tibetan prayer flags on Chicham bridge
Day 2 – Langza, Mud Village and Dhankar
On my second day, my first visit was to Langza Village which is famous for the big Buddha statue of Spiti. Also referred to as the Fossil village, it is known to be home to plenty of wildlife fossils. After Langza, I headed straight to visit Mud Village, admired the beauty of Pin Valley and also walked over a very shaky bridge that hangs over the mighty Spiti river. After enjoying a hot ‘maggi’ meal from a small tea shop near the Buddha Statue while freezing over the drizzling rain, I set out to explore the rest of Spiti which has another monastery at Dhankar situated very close to the Dhankar Lake.
The famous Buddha statue of Langza valley
Visit to each of these places has been spectacular. I spent my remaining time at Spiti walking around the Kaza market, tasting the local alcohol called ‘Arag’ (which interestingly, is made using snow!!) and having good chit chats with the locals and other tourists and most memorably, star gazing the milky way! Visit to Spiti Valley is an experience that you will embrace throughout your life. So stop hesitating, pack your bags and go Spiti! Julley! PS : While you are there, please make sure to do your bit and refrain from causing any harm to the environment and wildlife. Let’s be responsible tourists and work towards bringing back our planet earth to its previous glory!
This travelogue was first published on https://travelista.club/guides/a-solo-female-travelers-trip-to-spiti-valley/
About the Author
Anjana belongs to the 2008 10th Standard batch of Amrita Vidyalayam, Kuthuparamba. She is an avid traveller.