The journey to Spiti is not for the faint-hearted. Ladakh’s hidden gem, this valley is for travelers who travel for soul-searching. Nestled in the lap of Himalayas, Spiti is house to monasteries that have 1000-year-old traditions embedded in their genesis, let alone the sight of mighty mountains and rivers. Did you make your travel plans for the month yet? Read on to get some inspiration.
The culture, the cuisine and the kindest souls will transport you to a whole new world. Hike along the deserted terrains, pause, take a deep breath and reflect – Spiti changes the way you perceive life.
How to reach: You could either start your journey from Shimla via Kinnaur valley, or you could take the Manali route. Shimla-Kinnaur trail takes at least 2 days; the first night you either stop at Kalpa or Reckong Peo. Although it’s a slightly longer route, it gives a little more time to get acclimatized to the altitude change. The Manali route takes about 15 hours.
Now, if you are traveling from Delhi, it is always better to go via Manali – Rohtang Pass in 3 days. You either drive or ride to Spiti from Delhi. The journey map goes like this – Delhi to Manali, Manali to Solang Valley, Solang Valley to Rohtang Pass, and then to Gramphu and Khoksar. From Khoksar you travel to Kunzum Pass and then finally to Kaza (Spiti Valley).
Things to pack: Spiti is cold but due to higher altitude, the sun rays can feel extremely harsh on the skin. Carry full-sleeve Tees, light-weighted jackets, sun-blocks with SUV 50 +, sun glasses, caps and good walking shoes. Ensure you travel light.
The gorgeous homestays: With the help of Ecosphere (a social initiative that works for development of the region), many locals have opened their homes for travelers. Nothing fancy, but the houses have spacious accommodations, with of course, the sight of the mighty Himalayas everywhere.
Best time to visit: May to September is the best time to visit Spiti. It is pretty much impossible to reach Spiti during winter months; thick layers of Himalayan snow blocks mountain passes, making it impossible for traveling (even on the Shimla-Kinnaur route).
Spiti experiences about 250 days of warm sunshine annually; winters are harsh and difficult. Temperatures on an average drop to -30 degrees Celsius, and lack of modernity and tech innovations make it very tough for the locals to survive. Woodfire and lots of warm chai comes to rescue.
Things to remember: Only BSNL sim cards work in Spiti! Yes, it’s true. Pick up cash from ATMs in Manali; you will hardly find anything once you reach Spiti. Now, most importantly, Spiti has an altitude of 3300-5000 meters; your body needs to be considerably acclimatized for this journey. Those with lung or heart conditions, or even asthma issues, are advised to consult doctors before hitting the road.