Backpacking across Spiti Valley

Tripoto
7th Jul 2017
Photo of Backpacking across Spiti Valley by Some Aditya Mandal

"Wherever you go , go with all your heart" , Confucius

Spiti Valley - the name needs no introduction to all the travelers and backpackers. A cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya mountains in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. A perfect example of nature’s surrealism is home to some of the highest villages, oldest monasteries and the most stunning landscapes you’ll ever see. From the ancient Monasteries of Tabo, Dhankar , Key to the picturesque villages of Nako , Langza , Mudh to The turquoise-grey ribbon of the Spiti River to the serene blueish lake of Chandrataal - Spiti is an extraordinary experience.

Photo of Backpacking across Spiti Valley 1/1 by Some Aditya Mandal

Here's a short itinerary based on our Backpacking to Spiti Valley:

Day 1: Delhi-Chandigarh-Reckong Peo

Day 2: Reckong Peo- Kalpa-Roghi

Day 3: Reckong Peo - Nako - Tabo

Day 4: Tabo - Dhankar - Mudh (Pin Valley)

Day 5: Mudh - Kaza

Day 6: Kaza- Key-Khibber- Langza-Komick-Hikkim

Day 7: Kaza - Kunzum La - Chandrataal

Day 8: Chandrataal - Batal - Manali

Day 9: Manali - Delhi

Day 10: Delhi

Lets explore the unexplored gem of India.

Day 1 : Delhi - Chandigarh - Reckong Peo (584 kms )

Day 1

You can board an early morning bus to Chandigarh. The distance between Delhi and Chandigarh is around 250 kms and a Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC ) ordinary bus ticket will cost you around Rs. 220.

Expenditure : Rs. 220

HRTC Deluxe Bus to Reckong Peo from Chandigarh ISBT Sector 44

Photo of Chandigarh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

There's one HRTC Deluxe Bus plying from Chandigarh to Reckong Peo every evening at 5:50 PM. This happens to be the best option if you consider entering Spiti from the Kinnaur Side. The Bus travels through Parwanoo , Solan , Shimla , Narkanda and Rampur and finally reaches Reckong Peo around 6 to 7 AM in the morning depending on the road and weather conditions. The deluxe ticket costs you around Rs. 650 , where as ordinary ticket will cost you around Rs.500.

Expenditure : Rs. 220 + Rs. 650(Trans.) + Rs. 200 (Food) = Rs. 1100

Day 2 : Reckong Peo - Kalpa - Roghi - Reckong Peo (30 kms )

Day 2

Its always best to take a day rest in Reckong Peo and acclimatize. Reckong Peo is the headquarter of Kinnaur District and you easily find an accommodation at Rs. 500. After breakfast , you can take a bus to Kalpa and Roghi. Kalpa is a beautiful Himalayan hamlet surrounded by the Kinnaur Kailash Ranges.

If you have an extra day , then you can make a trip to Sangla and Chitkul which around 65 kms from Reckong Peo but if you are travelling during monsoon make sure the roads are okay.

Photo of Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Roghi is around 10 kms from Kalpa , and on the way you will get to see the famous Suicide Point and the snow capped Kinnaur Kailash Ranges.

Expenditure : Rs. 1100 + Rs.250(Stay)+ Rs.100(Trans.) + Rs.250(Food) = Rs. 1700

Day 3 : Reckong Peo - Nako - Tabo ( 152 kms )

Day 3

Wake up early , a long way to go, Day to enter Spiti Valley. If you want to cover Nako and Tabo in a day , you need a strategy , board the 7AM bus to Kaza and get down at Nako around 12:30 . You will have around 1hr to exlpore Nako. From Nako board the Rampur-Tabo Bus around 2 PM to reach Tabo. To get a seat in the Peo-Kaza Bus you need to be at the Bus Stand by 6:15 AM. Nako is at the distance of 102 kms and it takes around 5-6 hrs to reach Nako. The ticket price is around Rs.180.

Reckong Peo - Kaza Bus at Reckong Peo Bus Stand

Photo of Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Its a small 10 minutes walk from the Nako Bus Stand to the Nako Village. The unspoilt, serene and picturesque village of Nako is located in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh at a height of around 3600m. There's a beautiful lake in the village and an old monastery atop a small hill.

Nako Lake

Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Alleys of Nako Village

Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Nako Gompa

Photo of Nako, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Try to reach the bus stand by 2 PM , there's one small dhaba where you can enjoy a good veg meal at a cheap rate. The Rampur-Tabo bus reaches there around 2 PM ,it takes around 2-3 hrs to reach Tabo and the ticket price is around Rs.50. On the way , Malling Nullah is located in between Kinnaur and Spiti Valley and one of the most happening travel destinations of Himachal Pradesh.

Tabo, the first village in Spiti from the Kinnaur side in Himachal Pradesh is located at a height of 10, 760 feet above sea-level (3,280 m). Tabo has one of the Oldest Monasteries in the the Spiti Valley , the 1000 yr old Tabo Gompa. The mud-brick walls of Tabo Gompa enclose some of the finest of all Indo-Tibetan art and so does the Meditation Caves. There's lot of staying options in Tabo from homestays to hotel to monastery. There's one of the nicest hotel named Dekhit Norphel (Tiger Den) right there near the Bus Stand where you can get a stay under Rs. 800. Theis hotel also has a restaurant offering European and Israeli Food.

Stupa at the Tabo Monastery

Photo of Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Tabo Monastery

Photo of Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Caves

Photo of Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Expenditure : Rs. 1700 + Rs. 230 (Trans) + Rs. 350 (Stay) + Rs. 300 (Food) = Rs. 2580.

Day 4 : Tabo - Dhankar - Mudh ( Pin Valley )

Day 4

There's one direct bus from Tabo to Dhankar at 08:00 AM , we couldn't see it anyway. There are many Force Traveller MinBus plying between Tabo to Kaza . They take around Rs. 100 and drop up at Dhankar Road junction near Shichling which is about 25 kms from Tabo. Now from this place you are own your own. You can either trek to Dhankar Monastery which is around 8 kms , or you can hitch hike for Rs.100.

Dhankar Village and Monastery situated at an elevation of 3,894 meters (12,774 feet) is at the perfect setting for any monument in this world. The monastery complex is built on a high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. The monastery was built approximately one thousand years ago and now belongs to the Gelugspa School of order since the 1450s.

Dhankar Village and Dhankar Gompa , confluence of Pin and Spiti River

Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Dhankar Gompa

Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Dhankar Gompa

Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Dhankhar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Further above the village there's a 4 km trail which leads to Dhankar Lake . The total trek time will be around 3 hrs for any average trekker. If you have Chandratal in your itinerary you can give this a miss.

Dhankar Lake

Photo of Dhankar Lake, Dhar Nipti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

You need to hitch hike again to reach Pin Valley (Mudh Village). You will be luckier if you get a hike upto Artaragu Bridge on Kaza Road, Otherwise you will have to get down at Sichling and again get a vehicle upto Artaragu Bridge. A HRTC Bus leaves Kaza at 04:00 PM everyday for Mudh Village and reaches the Artaragu Bridge around 4:40 PM. Make sure you reach there by then at the bridge. You can even get a lift upto Mudh as there are lot of vehicles going that side. You can easily get a hike for Rs. 100. Mudh is around 34 kms from the Bridge , so it will take around 1:30 hrs.

Some Random Village in Pin Valley

Photo of Backpacking across Spiti Valley by Some Aditya Mandal

Road to Mudh

Photo of Backpacking across Spiti Valley by Some Aditya Mandal

The Road to Pin Valley is one of the most fascinating roads in this entire Spiti Valley. The roaring Pin River flows through your left and you can watch sunshine play on the Green slopes of mountains. What else you need for the journey ?

Mudh Village is extremely picturesque , just like an artist's imagination of Green Valley. Surrounded by the snow capped mountains , there lies a small village with one of the most greenest valleys. Mudh is also the starting / ending camp in Pin-Parvati Pass Trek which one of toughest treks in India. You can find a lot of homestays and cheap food in Mudh , if you want to call someone then there's one payphone at Tara Homestay which charge Rs.5 /- min.

Food of the People

Photo of Pin Valley National Park, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

That's the greenery in Mudh Village.

Photo of Pin Valley National Park, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Expenditure: Rs. 2580 + Rs. 400 (Trans) + Rs. 300 (stay) + Rs. 300 (Food) = Rs. 3580.

Day 5: Mudh - Kaza ( 54 kms )

Day 5

This is a rest day , all you need is get to Kaza by hitch hiking. The HRTC Bus to Kaza leaves around 8 ' o clock in the morning. But you can leave that bus and explore the valley. You can trek towards the Pin Parvati Pass route for 1-2 kms and if you are lucking enough you can spot an Ibex somewhere. Later , you can find some locals going to Kaza and hitch hike with them , they won't take more than Rs. 100 for you.

Houses in Spiti Valley

Photo of Pin Valley National Park, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Kaza is the biggest town in the whole Spiti Valley , administrative headquarters and much more. Its not like the previous villages calm and serene , where as Kaza is much noisy and crowded. To find a cheap accommodation in Kaza is really tough , you might get some cheap ones near the Monastery. Or else you can do a thing , there's HRTC bus to Khibber at around 4PM , board it at reach Ki or Khibber , stay there. It would be better than staying in Kaza. Later , next day you can get down to Kaza by the same bus and visit other places.

Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Expenditure: Rs. 3580 + Rs. 100 (Trans.) + Rs. 300 (Stay) + Rs.300 (Food) = Rs. 4280

Day 6: Kaza- Key - Khibber - Langza - Komick - Hikkim ( 70 kms)

Day 6

All the sight seeing around Kaza can be done in a day. There is a HRTC Bus to Khibber , but its odd timing won't make it possible to explore all these places in a day. There's one Taxi Association near Bus Stand which charges Rs. 2900 for small car (Maruti Alto) and if you are lucky you can get shared ones too. Alternately you can hire Royal Enfield Bullets from the local shops , but you need to book earlier through Spiti Holiday Adventure.

From Kaza , the Key Monastery is around 12 kms towards Khibber. Key Gompa is said to have been founded by Dromtön (Brom-ston, 1008-1064 CE), a pupil of the famous teacher, Atisha, in the 11th century. This may however, refer to a now destroyed Kadampa monastery at the nearby village of Rangrik, which was probably destroyed in the 14th century when the Sakya sect rose to power with Mongol assistance.Key Gompa now belongs to the Gelugpa sect, along with Tabo Monastery and Dhankar Gompa, one of three in Spiti. Key is also the biggest center for Buddhist Learning in Spiti and it is also the oldest training center for Lhamas.

Key Monastery as seen from the Key Village

Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Key Monastery as seen from Above

Photo of Key Gompa, Key, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Khibber is further 8 kms from the Key Monastery. At an altitude of 4000 mtrs , Sometime back this beautiful village had an authority of being the highest motorable village in Asia before Komic took the crown. Khibber is also the starting point for some fantastic treks such as Parang La and Mt. Kanamo.

Khibber Village

Photo of Kibber, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

To reach Langza , you have to come back to the Kaza-Manali highway and again take the diversion towards Langza- Komick. The road to Langza is immensely beautiful with lust green meadows , snow capped peaks. Langza is undoubtedly the most scenic village in entire Spiti Valley. And the main attraction of Langza is the big Buddha Statue.

Timelapse of Langza

Maha Buddha Statue at Langza

Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Langza Village

Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Hikkim Village as seen from the Komick-Kaza Road.

Photo of Langza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Komick is further 16 kms from Langza , at 4587 meters it is declared as the highest motorable village in Asia. The panorama as viewed from this village is enthralling and inspiring. The high and mighty peaks can be seen from here in their full glory. The Chocling La Peak (6510 Mts) is visible very clearly like a Shivalingam.

Komick

Photo of Backpacking across Spiti Valley by Some Aditya Mandal

On the way from Komick to Kaza , there is the beautiful village of Hikkim which boasts of World's Highest Post Office at 4440 mtrs. The Post office is downhill from the Komick-Kaza Road , so pay attention to your left as there are no signboards on the road.

Hikkim Post Office

Photo of Hikkim, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

Try to reach Kaza by 5 PM , if you need the ticket in the Kaza-Manali Bus. As there's only one bus in a day there's too much rush for these tickets. We couldn't manage to get a ticket upto Batal , as they were sold for bribes. Alternately you can get a shared taxi upto Manali which will cost Rs. 1000 per head.

Expenditure: Rs. 4280 + Rs.1950 (Trans.)+ Rs.300 (Stay)+Rs.300(Food) = Rs. 6830

Day 7: Kaza - Kunzum La -Chandrataal Lake ( 80 kms - 8 kms Trek)

Day 7

You can get a taxi upto Kunzum Pass at Rs. 3800 which can be shared among 8 persons if you get to manage other fellow trekkers. If you are interested in trekking then this is a good option or you can get the taxi upto Chandrataal Camping at Rs. 5700.

Kuzum La (4300 mts)

Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

The Kaza - Manali highway is in extreme conditions , so it takes around 4 hours to reach Kunzum Pass. From Kunzum Pass its a 8 km downhill trek to Chandrataal, but its not so downhill. There are places where you need climb steep slopes too,trails are extremely rocky , there are narrow trails through the edges of cliff and there are patches with no trails. It will take around 3-4 hrs with rests in between. There are beautiful green meadows , small streams which add enigma to this small trek.

Panoroma during the trek

Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

You can sleep in the meadows like this unless you get attacked by a Fox

Photo of Kunzum Pass, Dhar Thachakarpo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

In the last 3-4 kms of the trek you can see the Chandrataal Lake , Camping Sites from above , so it actually acts as a constant source of motivation. The trails directly takes you to Chandrataal - the turquoise blue lake. Words aren't enough to appreciate the beauty of Chandrataal , that's one of the most beautiful lakes in India. The circumference of the lake is around 2.4 kms , you can take a walk around if you wish. You can stay at the lake upto 7:30 PM , after that get ready to be hounded by the local police.

Magnificent Chandrataal Lake in the evening

Photo of Chandra Taal, Lahaul And Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India by Some Aditya Mandal

You can see more pictures of Chandrataal here.

Timelapse of Chandrataal Lake

There's a dedicated camping ground at Chandrataal which is around 2 kms from the Lake. You can find Jamaicas Camp right near the checkpost and Tenzing's Camp down in the open ground , they charge around Rs.800- Rs.1500 per person with Dinner and Breakfast.

Expenditure: Rs.6830 + Rs.470(Trans.) +Rs.900(Camp)+ Rs.200 (Food) = Rs. 8400

Day 8: Chandrataal - Batal - Manali ( 136 kms )

Day 8

From Chandrataal you can trek to Batal or hitch hike , if you can't find any of them then you can ask Tenzing , he will leave you at Batal for Rs. 400 per person. At Batal , you can have your breakfast Chacha Chachi Dhaba and wait for the bus to Manali. The HRTC Kaza - Manali bus reaches around 8:30 AM in the morning. In case you miss it , you will get Force Traveller MiniBuses upto Manali or Grampho. They can charge anything between Rs.500 to Rs.1000 depending on your bargain skills.

If the road and weather conditions are good and there's less traffic in Rohtang Pass area you will reach Manali by evening. Welcome back to noisy and crowded life again.

Expenditure: Rs. 8400 + Rs.1000 (Trans) + Rs.300 (Stay) +Rs. 300 (Food) = Rs.10,000

Day 9 : Manali - Delhi (590 kms)

Day 9

Manali is already spoiled , thanks to the huge crowd from Delhi and Chandigarh. There's nothing much to do here , costly food , costly accommodation and over populated places.

There are lot of Volvo and ordinary buses plying between Manali to National Capital , it usually takes around 12-15 hrs depending on the traffic. An ordinary HRTC bus ticket is at Rs. 650 , deluxe bus at Rs. 720 and Volvo around Rs.1400. Sleep tight.

Expenditure: Rs. 10,000 + Rs. 700(Trans) + Rs. 400 (Food) = Rs.11,100

Day 10 : Back Home

Day 10

You will reach New Delhi by the morning. You can view the entire gallery of Spiti Valley here.

Final Expenditure : Rs. 11,100 including all Transportation , Stay and Food. You can save around Rs.3500 if you can manage public transport for Kaza sight seeing and Kaza-Chandrataal-Manali route.

Photo of New Delhi, Delhi, India by Some Aditya Mandal

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10 Comment(s)
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after reading the whole thing, I'm still confused if you did the entire trip backpacking, and a bit of hitchhike all through the valley. I've been planning for despite my limitations, this is one great adventure trip. now I'm planning a trip if over a month and so would like to walk village to village and prefer homestay to hotels. is such a journey possible. and how much time would be sufficient..
Tue 08 06 19, 15:44 · Reply · Report
Any idea if the road condition will be good during last week of July to 1st week of Aug. I am planning to travel alone so will rely mostly on public transport.
Sat 07 20 19, 17:43 · Reply · Report
is the suggested itinerary only for trekkers? I don't like too much of walking - prefer a vehicle.
Tue 05 07 19, 15:14 · Reply · Report
so can one do whole Spiti trip by bus?
Fri 03 01 19, 15:44 · Reply · Report
Is it a good idea to visit this place in December?
Mon 10 15 18, 22:12 · Reply (1) · Report
Photo of
no.
Thu 01 24 19, 02:27 · Report
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