The Middle Kingdom

13th May 2018

Spiti valley is a cold desert mountain valley high in the himalayan mountains. It is famously known as the Middle Kingdom as it is the land between India and Tibet. The people of this valley follow the Vajrayana Buddhism similar to that of people in Tibet and parts of Ladakh.Spiti valley is a home to picturesque valleys, snow crowned mountains, long unwinding roads and a culture rich of buddhism .

We caught a bus from ISBT Delhi to Rampur a small village in Himachal Pradesh. This journey took almost 11 hours and we spent the rest of the day at leisure getting accimatalized to the climate.

Day 2

We left from Rampur in the morning around 10 :00 am for a small village named Chitkul . The drive from Rampur to Chitkul takes 4 - 5 hours. Chitkul is a small village located on the banks of the river Baspa in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Situated at an elevation of 11,320 ft above sea level , it is also the last inhabited village on the Indian Tibet border. Most of the houses in this village are made of wood to provide a little warmth as the climate changes within seconds .

Day 3

Chitkul is a small village located on the banks of the river Baspa in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Situated at an elevation of 11,320 ft above sea level , it is also the last inhabited village on the Indian Tibet border. Most of the houses in this village are made of wood to provide a little warmth as the climate changes within seconds .The staple food of Chitkul is potatoes , some of the costliest potatoes are grown in Chitkul.

view from the room

Kalpa is a small village located above Reckong Peo in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh . The elevation of this village is 9711 ft . Famous for its apple orchards and the mesmerizing view of the Kinnaur Kailash range Kalpa is also known for its history of ancient temples. We spent the day at leisure walking around the streets of the kalpa market. The drive from Chitkul to Kalpa takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Day 5

On day 5 we left for Tabo , situated in the Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh at an elevation of 10,760 ft,Tabo is only 4 hours away from Kalpa. This is also the village where the current Dalai Lama plans to retire .The first thing that catches your eyes is the huge 'Om Mani Padme Hum', the buddhist prayer chant inscribed on the mountain. There are also prayer caves in the mountain used for meditation. The caves give a mesmerizing view of the lush green valley and the Spiti river flowing through it with full zest. This scene is so serene that it cuts through the rocky and barren terrain of the Spiti valley.

Tabo is also the home to one of the oldest monasteries in the Spiti valley. This monastery was made in 996 CE in the Tibetan year of the Fire Ape. The Tabo monastery is the oldest and continuously operating enclave of the buddhist community.

Day 6

Dhankar or the old capital of Spiti valley is a high village located at a height of 12,774 ft above sea level in the Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. This village 1 hour drive away from Tabo. As soon as you leave Tabo the landscape around you will change to a rocky barren landscape that is the speciality of the Spiti valley. There might have been a fort in dhankar but nothing remains of that fort now except a house on top of the hill, one can see the confluence of the spiti and pin rivers from this point. Going for the Dhankar lake trek is a must if you are visiting Dhankar.

The Dhankar lake trek is one of the high altitude treks which starts from the new Dhankar monastery. The trek is almost 3 km long with a steep climb .The lake is situated at an elevation of 14,010 ft above sea level. The trail is a little narrow so one has to be careful while walking or taking pictures but it is full of the barren beauty of the valley . It takes about 1 hour or more depending on your speed to reach the lake but the end result is absolutely mesmerizing. The crystal clear water in the middle of nothing but barren mountains and snow crowned all around is a view that cannot be easily forgotten.The lake will surely leave you spell bound with its tranquility.

Day 7

Demul is surely the hidden gem of the Spiti valley . Located at an elevation of 14,173 ft above sea level, this village consists of 53 houses spread across a hill. It is a must visit for anyone who wants a glimpse at the life of the villagers at such a high altitude also for someone who wants to be close to nature.It is one of those villages which have adopted the method of sustainable tourism wherein one half of the village hosts the tourists for a year and the second half hosts the tourists for the next year.Also if you are staying in demul for more than a day then on the second day you will be allocated to a new house . This allocation system is handled by the two pradhans selected by the villagers. The system ensures that all the villagers prosper equally from the tourism that the valley gets.

Day 8


The highest village in the world connected with motorable roads at an altitude of 15,049 ft above sea level with a population of only 114 capita , Komic is a treat ott he eyes. The oxygen level is really low at this place and a person can experience a mild headache or nausea. But everything is forgotten in front of the gigantic snow covered mountains and a beauty that cannot be described or captured in a photograph . There is an old monastery and a small cafe which provides some delicious sandwiches and soothing ginger lemon honey tea which helps to deal with the cold .

Nestled in the mountains at an altitude of 14,440 ft above sea level is the remote village named 'Hikkim'. This village is most famous for the post office which is said to be the highest operating post office in the world. The post office has been functioning from November 5, 1983 . Sending mail from such a remote village is a tedious process.After talking to the locals we came to know that the post is taken on foot from Hikkim to Kaza , there it is loaded on a bus to Reckong Peo and further to Shimla. From here it is then put on a train to Kalka and then loaded again on a bus to Delhi. At Delhi the mail is finally segregated and sent to the respective addresses.

Photo of The Middle Kingdom by Deepika Vaidya

We decided to spend our night at Langza , a bowl shaped village located at an elevation of 14,500 ft above sea level just 30-45 minutes away from Hikkim . The first thing noticeable about this village is the big golden buddha statue sitting at the top of a hill.

All the houses in this village are built below this statue. Due to the bowl shape one experiences really strong winds coming down directly from the mountains . Langza is also popularly known as the fossil village . Fossils of many plants are found under the sedimentary rocks . You can see a number of children running around trying to sell these fossils to the tourists. A visit to this village is incomplete without the fossil hunting . Because of the high altitude and the remoteness of the village one can spot many endangered species like the snow leopard etc and if the sky is clear one may spot a lot of shooting stars on a lucky day . Night gazing is a must at langza.

We left Langza to go to Nako. On our way to Nako we made a number of stops :

Day 9


Key Gompa or the Key monastery is a Tibetan buddhist monastery located on a hill top at an elevation of 13,668 ft. It is the biggest centre for buddhist learning and the oldest training centre for the lamas.The place is also considered to be one of the most important research centre for Buddhism.


Gue village or the lama mummy village is situated at an altitude of 10,499 in the Kinnaur district of himachal pradesh . This village is famous for the lama mummy that was found here after an earthquake struck this village.The mummy is believed to be of a lama named Sangha Tenzin who gave up his life for the well being of his people. The lama gave up his life to free the village of a scorpio infestation.The mummy is about 500- 600 years old. The villagers still consider the mummy to be holy seek the mummy for guidance .

Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Deepika Vaidya


Nako is a small village located in the trans himalayan region of the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, near the Indo China border. It is the largest village at a height of 11,893 ft above sea level.

The main attraction of this village is the old monastery that dates back to 1025 and several other ancient temples. Nako lake is a high altitude lake situated in the kinnaur district at a height of 12,014 ft . The lake is surrounded by willow trees and is considered to be a holy lake . The lake forms part of the boundary of the Nako village.

We left Nako village at 5 am in the morning and started the 6 hour long journey to Rampur from where we had a bus to Delhi. After reaching Rampur we had lunch , freshened up and then left for the bus stand.The journey from Rampur to Delhi is a 11 hour long journey and we reached Delhi the nest day at around 8-9 in the morning.


Stay at all the places is at affordable prices in homestays.

No local transport is available post Tabo hence you need to either.

There is no cell service post Tabo. The only operating cell service till Tabo is BSNL.

Spiti valley is situated at a very high altitude hence, there is chance that you may feel sick or nauseous, get mild headaches etc during the trip . Make sure you carry all the required medicines before you commence your trip.