The tonic effect of the Himalaya is hard to define, as India herself has a variety of scenes. The rough and dry structure of extreme northwestern Himalayas to the lush green northeastern Himalayas is baffling complex sociology to be assimilated. Spiti Valley is one such magical Himalayan realm I am never tired of visiting. Situated in the laps of the mighty Himalayan ranges with contiguous western fringes of the Tibetan plateau.
Beginning of our journey
We reached Spiti Valley through its backdoor by starting our trip from Shimla, and by slowly passing by the Sutlej river through the Kinnaur district. With every passing kilometer, the mountains got steadily higher and the snow-capped Kinnaur Kailash range came closer to us. After a long ride from Shimla to Kalpa, we decided to take a halt for the night. The hotel we stayed in was newly made and had a majestic view of the small hill town Kalpa along with the gigantic Kinnaur Kailash range. The sun was slowly pulling its curtains down while the evening was relishing its dark beauty over the Himalayan range.
Entering the Valley
From Sutlej's confluence with the Spiti River and zigzag roads leading upward endlessly, a cluster of medieval-looking stone and mud-brick houses leads to a settlement/ village known as Nako. Most of the tourists traveling to the valley take a halt for feeling the warmth and tenderness of sitting beside the Nako lake.
The wind in my head was getting colder and the breeze passing by became chillier, and reminiscences of the cold desert was alive again in my mind which was full of exciting adventures. This unique terrain is bereft of any vegetation but has been jeweled with blue colored skies, Buddhist flags, and stunning drama of light and shadow.
Reaching Dhankar Gompa
After unraveling the mysteries of Nako we started traveling towards Dhankar Gompa. It was a warm afternoon and the sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds which led to mystic rays and over the dramatic and serene landscape of the valley. With fluffy clouds surrounding the mountain ranges, it seemed the stairway to heaven was closer.
When we reached the outskirts of Dhankar late in the I climbed up with my camera and tripod to shoot some timelapses and also, to get a better view of the Dhankar Gompa.
The nights at Dhankar were mesmerizing as it was a sky full of stars, and a thin light with a lot of stars hovering all over my head, with the earth's rotation, the galaxy changed its position from time to time, and it was a wonderful experience. The light pollution due to the settlements in the village was a big problem, but I somehow managed to get some shots.
Next day, early in the morning we went in search of the mysterious Dhankar Lake, it was a climb of an hour or one and half hour, but we were unsuccessful to find the lake. We reached the top where there were some Buddhist flags, along with them, we could also see the rays of dawn over the valley and those gigantic mountains ranges. I could also discern the mother nature's color and tranquility.
The trail leading to Kaza
The roads of Spiti Kingdom has always been a heaven abode for travelers, from unadorned roads to rough zig-zag roads it's a fascinating journey which teaches how our life is. Kaza is the district headquarter of Lahaul and Spiti district which has all the basic needs and facilities which are provided by our government. On the way to Kaza, we also worshiped Tabo Monastery. Kaza greeted us warmly as we got a homestay to live in for two days and we also met kind-hearted people who served us at the homestay. The family who was running the homestay were followers of Spitian Buddhism which was quite eminent in their lobby, as they had paintings and various Buddhist scriptures.
Monsoons and the valley
Monsoons rarely affect the valley as observed by me, I traveled at the end of July when it was raining everywhere else in India, but Spiti had a different story because of its dry and cold climate which stays almost throughout the year. The dark clouds though, provide an amazing texture on the valley.
Kaza to Key Monastery and Unraveling Chicham
After having our breakfast, we traveled to Key Monastery, Kibber village, and Chicham village. I had visited these places already when I went to the valley for the first time in 2018, during winters. But the texture of the places was totally different.
Nights of Kaza
The nights of Kaza were special to us because the skies were clearer and the light pollution was lesser than what I had to face in Dhankar. I could capture the movement of the galaxy in my timelapse videos, and I also got clear pictures with thousands of stars which lighted up the sky.
Textures of Spiti Valley
Langza Fossil Village
We travelled to Langza fossil village situated at 14,000 ft above the sea level. I met this small girl selling some souvenir with her sister tied up on her back. Her family had a small cafe where they sold tea, coffee to the visitors who came to visit the Buddha statue.
Trip to Chandratal Lake and camping near Chandrataal
Chandratal Lake or Lake of the Moon is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, I could not visit Chandratal lake when I visited the valley during winters in 2018. The roads leading towards Chandratal were rough and rigid, but our driver seemed to enjoy while we were bouncing up and down in the backseat.
As our trip ended, memories of the valley were trapped inside the cages of my mind heart and soul, and we left the valley with the hope of seeing it again.