Spiti Valley Tourism & Travel Guide

Picture a Ladakh without crowds and little development – that’s what Spiti is like. One of the highest and most remote places to be inhabited on earth, the cold desert of Spiti Valley is breathtakingly gorgeous with timber-and-mud houses sprinkled across its barren landscape. As you tread through its scattered green fields and changing hues of brown and grey, the Spiti River runs along with you. The top experiences here range from visiting the fabulous 1200-year-old Dhankar Gompa, driving through Kunzum Pass at 4551m, dropping a postcard at the highest post office in Hikkim, trekking to Dhankar Lake and collecting sea fossils near the village of Langza. The best way to enjoy Spiti is to go on a bike adventure, cruising through its broken trails and stopping at the villages to chat with the locals. Go with an open mind, for you will return with inimitable experiences that will stay etched in your memory forever.
Best time to visit

Peak Season to visit Spiti is from mid-May to mid-July, when the weather is bearable and warm and all passes, link roads and hotels are open for visitors.

Budget

For Budget Travellers: INR 600-1000 a day

For Mid-range Travellers: INR 2200-4000 a day

For Luxury Travellers: INR 4500 and upwards

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Spiti Valley
This Ladakh-like terrain, nestled in high Himalayan mountains is another Tibetan Buddhist-culture influenced land. Often referred to as the 'Middle Land', the valley is home – and proudly so – to some of the oldest monasteries in the world. With very few tourists having the courage to tread to this remote valley and even fewer villages scattered in this jagged terrain, Spiti retains its picturesque landscape. Prospering in absolute silence, the valley can be approached from Manali via Kunzum Pass from mid-June to mid-October, or by road through Shimla-Kinnaur Valley a.k.a. Hindustan–Tibet Highway, which stays open all round the year – except when it is temporarily closed down during snowfall in winters or landslides during monsoons.
Dhankar Monastery
Dhankar Monastery Ext, Demul Khas, Himachal Pradesh 172114, India
For those who are interested in Buddhism and its teachings, a visit to the Dhankar Monastery is a must. Situated on top of a hill above the village of Dhankar, this monastery has many caves for one to meditate in, a museum that houses Buddhist artifacts and a library as well. The Dhankar village lies on the confluence of the Rivers Spiti and Pin and has been labeled as an endangered sight out of 100 such places by the World Monument Funds.
Komic Gompa
Komic, Himachal Pradesh 172114, India
After Langza, Komic is the highjest village of Asia and known mainly for the Tangyud Monastery. This is a quiet little farming village and is filled with simple people happy with their life and surroundings. The snow leopard is the main animal here and you will also be able to see a body of one hanging inside the Komic Monastery. The view of many peaks and roads from top of this road is lovely and a drive along this road is immensely adventurous.


Shimla
Best time to visit - January,February,March,April,May,June,October,November,December
Once known as Shyamala, synonymous with Goddess Kali, Shimla has been a summer retreat long before India even gained independence. This famous hill station similarly has a lot of places and things to see untouched by time. For instance, take a vintage joy ride from Kalka station to Shimla in a charming toy train that will take you through towering Deodars, hills and villages. Shimla truly comes alive during winters when a blanket of snow covers it all over making every nook and corner gleam and glisten. One such place is the ice skating rink (natural ice) near Lakkar Bazaar that opens from November to December. More winter sports include skiing, which can be enjoyed 21 km from Shimla in Kufri. Adventure activities such as rafting at Tattapani or a trek to Shali Tibba and Pabbar Valley are also worthwhile experiences. If you are fond of haunted stories and interested in having your own spooky adventure, you'll love Shimla. A lot of people including the renowned Rudyard Kippling (in 'My Own True Ghost Story) have written various eerie stories set around Shimla. A place known most for giving many people the jeepers-creepers is the Charleville Mansion. Another time travelling portal is the antique bookstore, Marina Brothers, located on Mall Road, which is truly a reader and collector's paradise. There are many luxury and budget hotels here, meaning you'll never fall short of options. Popular places to eat include Wake & Bake, Ashiana, Cecil and Minchy's that serve commendable Indian and multi-cuisine dishes and delicious gourmet food.
Chandigarh
Best time to visit - August,September,October,November
Chandigarh is India's first planned city, quite distinct from the rest of the country and considerably better organized. It is the capital of both Haryana and Punjab, but the city itself is not part of either state, being a union territory, i.e. administered directly by the central government. It was one of the early planned cities in post-independence India and is internationally known for its architecture and urban design. Chandigarh has various visitor attractions including theme gardens within the city. Some notable sites are Sukhna Lake, Rock Garden, Rose Garden, Parrot Bird Sanctuary Chandigarh, and Leisure Valley. Chandigarh as a perfect city with regards to its cultural growth, modernisation and architecture. Rose Garden is home to over 1,500 varieties of rose and the Garden of Fragrance is perfect for those mind-refreshing walks. Chandigarh has a bustling food scene, home to every cuisine you can think of right from Mediterranean (Kelong, Virgin Courtyard) to Thai (Tao- Bar & Lounge). Some popular places for Punjabi dishes are Punjab Grill and Sher-e-Punjab. Chandigarh is also close to many hill stations such as Solan, Kasauli, Shoghi and Naldehra.
Leh
Best time to visit - June to September
This beautiful town happens to be located in Jammu & Kashmir and is an abode for those who wish to pursue Buddhism. The place is surrounded by tall mountains, clear blue water, a white surrounding and many monasteries. The people here are warm and welcome tourists. Found midway between the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains, the beauty of Leh is beyond words, making it a hotspot with the tourists. Visiting the local markets here is a treat as one will get to browse through Tibetan jewelry, carpets, woolens and much more. Be sure to carry an extra bag to fit in all your purchases.
Dehradun
Best time to visit - March,April,May,October,November
Dehradun is easily one of the most popular hill stations in India. Though easily accessible by all modes of transportation, taking the road would be the best way to experience this heaven. The drive will take you through dense forests on the hilly road and if you're lucky, you might even see a wild elephant or leopard pass you by. The fresh and dewy hill air will infiltrate your lungs and put you in a great mood right away. In terms of things to see, there is Robber's Cave, a river cave formation and Sahashtradhara, which is also a stunning sight of nature consisting of sulphur springs. But more than its sights, Dehradun is the perfect place for a family getaway. After all it has everything that you could need for a relaxing holiday. The town has many vintage bookshops (Natraj Publishers, The English Book Depot), college campuses with hilly backdrops, architectural marvels (such as the Forest Research Institute), alleys filled with quaint restaurants, adventure sports gear shops and forest resorts and hotels to fit every budget. Vishranti, a resort tucked away discreetly in the Sal forests of the Doon valley, deserves a special mention for its beauty and luxury. The city is a haven for foodies as Dehradun offers a lot of variety and affordability in its cuisine. Restaurants and cafes such as Doon Darbar, renowned for devour-worthy Mughlai dishes and The Buffet for its mouthwatering burgers, cutlets and coffee, are popular options.
Manali
Best time to visit - February,March,April,October
The land from where once an ancient trade route to China would be embarked on, Manali is an abode for modern creativity now as much as it for withdrawal and adventure in the majestic mountains. From offering hostels, hotels, co-working spaces to the cave where once Arjun, the Pandava king had supposedly meditated (Arjun Gufa), Manali is no less than a global village. The mighty Himalayas have inspired many foreign settlements here, giving rise to popular European and Israeli cafes, restaurants and hostels, providing one a consortium of around the world cultures. This town is a true haven for adventure junkies who can indulge in river rafting, paragliding, camping, rock climbing, rappelling, zorbing at Solang Valley and Aleo. Manali has an array of breathtaking treks and sights for its nature lovers, for instance the Patalsu Peak, the Deo Tibba basecamp, Jogini Falls and the Rahala Falls. For all the solo riders out there, cruise your way through the snowy alley of Rohtang Pass while those who wish to travel back in time, can indulge in the exquisite display of culture and heritage at the Museum of Himachal Culture and Folk Art. Restaurants and cafes such as the Khyber Pass, Johnson's Cafe, La Plage, Drifters' Inn, The Hangout attract foodies for their culinary justice to everything from Thai to European cuisines and even some live music. If all this is too over the top for you, then reconnect with simplicity at Naggar Village, which is home to waterfalls, a beautiful castle, an art gallery and locals which have many stories to share and a cultural heritage to take pride in.
Kinnaur
Best time to visit - April,May,June,July
Scenic and serene, Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh is perhaps one of the most unexplored places in Himachal. Passing through serpentine roads, refreshing, lush greenery, the district is a delight to explore. Though travellers looking to enjoy a luxurious holiday may not have a great time here. Kalpa is the first village that greets you when you enter Kinnaur. Reckong Peo, Nako and Sangla Valley are some of the villages and valleys that make up Kinnaur district. A journey to Kinnaur is marked with adventure and also an unpredictability that comes from travelling so high up in the mountains. The people in all the villages are very warm and welcoming and are open to sharing their way of life with travellers. Do plan a long trip here, since Kinnaur district can easily take up to 2 weeks and it's best not to hurry your way through this spellbinding valley.

Best Time to Visit Spiti Valley

Peak Season to visit Spiti is from mid-May to mid-July, when the weather is bearable and warm and all passes, link roads and hotels are open for visitors.  

Shoulder Season: September to late October, which is the autumn season when the roads are strewn with leaves and the Spiti River is a beautiful turquoise colour. It can get quite cold night, almost two to three degrees, so keep that in mind while planning your trip.

Off-season: April to mid-May is when the snow starts melting and a few link roads, including the one from Kaza to Losar, open. The few homestays and hotels start operations in June, and this is also the time when major passes, such as the Kunzum Pass, open. So if seeing snow-covered peaks is on your bucket list, then this is a good time to go.         


Budget for Spiti Valley

For Budget Travellers: INR 600-1000 a day

  • Accommodation in hostels and guesthouses: INR 400-700
  • Food: INR 200-300

For Mid-range Travellers: INR 2200-4000 a day

  • Accommodation in mid-range hotels: INR 1500-2700
  • Food: INR 700-1000

For Luxury Travellers: INR 4500 and upwards

  • Accommodation in high-end hotels: INR 3000 and upwards
  • Food in hotel restaurants and bars: INR 1500 and upwards
Spiti Valley

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