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.
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.
Key Gompa/monastery: Key gompa is located at an altitude of 4116 metres on a rocky outcrop and provides a perfect view of the Spiti River snaking between the mountains. It is the largest gompa in Spiti and belongs to the Gelepu sect. It is situated between Kaza and Kibber with the Key village in close proximity. We arrived at 5.30pm and there was no bed left for stay. We requested and finally arranged beds to stay overnight. I decided to sleep in the terrace under the open sky, which will remain an unforgettable experience for me. We interacted with migrant workers from Odisha and Bihar who toil hard to keep the construction work going in this part of the country. The gompa has basic shared rooms with per bed cost of Rs 250 that includes food and tea. Do not expect fancy food and restroom facilities are basic. The stay is good for understanding the monastic life and to engage with monks on socio-political discussions.
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.
This 8-day trek is a popular option in the Spiti Valley, taking you on the traditional Ladakh-Spiti route with gorgeous views, steep gorges, stark landscapes and a glittering lake all thrown in. Drive from Kaza to Kibber village, the highest inhabited settlement in India. From Kibber it's a couple of hours trek to Dumla. The next day you will descend from Dumla and head to Thaltak Meadow, which should take a good 5 hours. Day 3 is a strenuous one with some 7 hours of trekking from Thaltak to Jagtha and onwards to Bonrojen. On the next day a steep 2-hour climb will bring you to Parang La pass at 18,300 feet, from where you will get sweeping views of Spiti valley. Trek ahead to the source of Pare Chu River and set up camp at Dak Karzong. Days 5 to 7 will cover broad plains and a well-marked, fairly easy trail from Dak Karzong to Datang Yongma to Chumik Shilde and finally to the southern edge of the breathtakingly beautiful Tso Moriri Lake. On Day 8 trek along the shore of the lake as you behold the Lungser Kangri peak in the background. A 6-7 hour trek will bring you to Karzog where you can visit the ancient monastery. The next day drive from Karzog to Leh via Mahe Bridge, a distance of more than 200 kilometres, which can be covered in 8-9 hours. 4. Kang Yatse
About the trek: If Stok Kangri is too ambitious for you, then Kanamo Peak, that rises almost to the same altitude as Stok Kangri, is the perfect alternative. Overlooking almost over 35 other summits, the Kanamo Peak stands tall and above all else in its region at 19,600 ft.Things to know before you go: 1. Acclimatisation before climbing to Kanamo is crucial.2. Prior high altitude trek experience is a must before attempting to climb Kanamo.Region: Himachal Pradesh | Highest Altitude: 19,600 ft | Difficulty: Difficult | Duration: 8 daysRead more about the Kanamo peak here.