So the title of this blog says
"SPITI- A journey to soul discovery"
but exactly what and where is this SPITI VALLEY?
Spiti Valley is a cold desert valley located in the state of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India in the Himalaya mountains. It is accessible only by road from either Manali or Shimla. well this brief intro to this extremely beautiful and mesmerizing place was must as i myself had no idea about the existence of this place till some time back.
The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land” which it actually is; because it is in fact the land between Tibet and India. And because of this very reason, it possesses a unique combination of both Indian and Tibetan cultures.
As i was travelling from Qatar, Delhi was my first halt.
The Journey begins.
So our journey began with a 12 hrs overnight bus ride from Delhi to Manali. Although a very hectic drive but nevertheless i was super excited about Manali after all i had been dying to be here ever since i saw "JAB WE MET".
The Mountains and the mist.
I woke up to the beauty of sun rays shining on my face from behind the mountains. Manali had its own way of welcoming me. Before we reached Manali we had a quick chai halt at a dhbba. Well you are officially in the mountains when you get your morning Chai with a view.
We quickly checked in to our hotel in old Manali, freshened up and left for our first meal in Manali.
Apart from a few good tapris and dhabas midway, Manali has some of the best cafes that not only offer what you call as soul food, but also an experience of a lifetime! We choose "The Lazy Dog cafe" for our lunch.
So once our tummies were full we headed towards the Jogini waterfalls. After a small trek through a narrow lane adjacent to Vashisht temple and going through apple orchards, tall pine trees and small water streams we reached the falls. The fall is formed by a stream which is merged in to Beas River in the downstream.
On the way back we visited the famous "Hadimba Devi Temple" This 16th century temple is located amid a beautiful deodar forest on top of a hill in Manali. This Temple attracted more tourist after movies like Roza and Yeh jawani hai dewani.
later we Strolled around the Mall road for some last minute shopping.
Of Roads, mountains and beyond.
Manali to Kaza was one of the toughest but the most scenic roads that i have been on with our mandatory Driver bhaiya please 2 min rukaiye photo lena hai stops. Hence calling this as a road trip with less roads involved and more of crossing mountain slopes, rivers is definitely an Oxymoron.
With its rough terrains, Spiti is definitely not for the weak-hearted. It faces extreme weather conditions, and you need to pass through risky routes to reach the valley. No i am definitely not discouraging any of you.
This roughly 200 km route was narrow, uneven and winding. It was dusty. It was windy. It was hot and took almost 12 hours to cover which involves crossing two mountain passes – Rohtang Pass and the Kunzum Pass.
After reaching half the way on the bumpy route , my hunger pangs were satisfied by pahadi rajma chawal for lunch in a small tent at Chacha Chachi dhaba in Badal. This ever-loved couple fondly called as Chacha-chachi has been running Chandra Dhaba for last 44 years at one of the most difficult terrains in the world in most hostile conditions, weather and poor connectivity.
Next before reaching Kaza for the night halt, we stopped at Kunzum pass. Every vehicle that heads to the Spiti valley by this route, halts here to seek blessings of Kunzum devi for safe journey through the mountains.
Finally we reach to Kaza and spent the night around the bonfire and star gazing.
That's a wrap for day 3.
The action packed Kaza.
So our adventurous Day began with being able to attend the morning prayer at the Kaza Monastery.
Don't miss the mandatory insta click at the Worlds highest petrol station in Kaza.
Next stop was the beautiful 1000 year old Dhankar monastery which is locked between the rocky spurs at the top of cliff in the Dhankar village at an elevation of over 3,800 meters in the Spiti valley. It is a 16th century old fort monastery, which has also served as a prison in the erstwhile era.
As per old beliefs Dhankar Village is geographically situated in the form of a lotus flower whose petals are formed by eight mountains SARTOT GANGRI, MANE GANGRI, REWA GANGRI, BALAN GANGRI, CHOOKPO-JO-FERANGRI, KITLING THANG GANGRI, GYALPO PALDAN GIRI, CHOOPO JACULA GIRI.
Believe me when i say that the 15 - 20 mins that i sat here were the most peaceful and relaxing moments that i got to experience.
Later posted a post card to my sweetheart dad from the worlds highest post office(14567 ft) in Kibber. Well i reached home before the post card did????.
Next on our stop was the Mighty Buddha (Medicine Buddha) at the fossil village of Langza at the altitude of 14000 ft above sea level hence considered to be one of the highest villages in the world with a motor able road.
We grabbed ourselves the mandatory mountain Maggie at the "Space Ship cafe".
I found myself a new tea love(Buck thorn tea)
We wrapped the evening playing Ludo and sipping local Himalayan Miller beer at the "Himalayan Cafe" in Kaza. This cafe had the best food and also we grabbed a few souvenirs. Cant recommend this cafe enough.
Thats a wrap for Day 4.
The much awaited Chandratal.
After being rested properly for the adventures day ahead we head towards the Key Monastery which we sited from far the previous day.
Key monastery: A picturesque Tibetan Buddhist monastery located on a hilltop in Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh, in midst of brown and white coated gigantic mountain ranges.
This 1000 year old monastery is home to around 300 lamas who receive their religious education here.
Plan for today is to reach the beautiful Chandratal lake and spend the night there at a camp.
CHANDRATAL : A lake situated at approx 13500 ft above sea level and surrounded by dozens of snow capped peaks. What i am just experiencing is this some fairy tale or is this reality. This place really justifies the feeling of "In the middle of nowhere ".
You feel like you are in a completely another world altogether.
The white of snow covered mountains and the blue of the lakes here is like nowhere else.
And here i found myself in between natures unscripted drama.
Whenever I am bored with the city life, and the pollution takes a toll on me, I head to the mountains! I have not always loved the mountains. I read about Chandratal a few years back, and from that moment on it’s always been on top in my bucket list. Nothing can be more soothing and rewarding than admiring the bounties of nature and that too by doing a trek to a place which is still unaffected by the ever-increasing endeavors of human beings.
Visiting this Himalayan Lake was one of the best experiences of my life! The barren mountains blended with snowy peaks, the beautiful lake, and the ever changing landscapes left me speechless and sights that’ll stay etched in my heart forever.
Unique geographical features make Spiti more desirable by explorers.
Trekking and camping are a must when you are in the valley. The highlights of the camp was the night filled with fun, bonfire(well it wasn't bonfire exactly but a heated tandoor around which we joined other fellow travelers and the locals for drink, music and dance. well we wrapped up the day star gazing. Well our cameras couldn't capture what i eyes saw
Way Back to Manali.
So this is where the trip ends and i am slowly soaking in every last bit of the what i experienced in past 5 days while we drive through the mesmerizing slow transformation from lush green hills to barren brown of Spiti and then again the greens of Manali .
Way back we stopped to grasp the last bit of this mountainous journey at Rotang Pass.
What more do i say about Spiti, it has made me spellbound with its Gorgeous mountains,
flawless cold desert valley,
And beauty extruding from every quarter....
At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, hair messy and your eyes sparkling.
I was always a beach person till Spiti happened to me. For some, mountains is just an escape for a while, but for me, now it feels like home to where i want to keep coming back again and again.
This is how 5 complete strangers met on a trip and became friends. Lol we even planed our next trip together????????.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
# ACCOMMODATION: Expect only basic facilities on the way as well as in the hotels you stay in. In some places, stay options will be limited to monasteries and home-stays only. So clearly, a trip to Spiti is not everyone’s cup of tea.
# CONNECTIVITY: Brace yourself for a detached life when you are in the valley. Network connectivity is obscure and Spitians are pretty cool with it. You may get lucky with BSNL signals at some places, but forget about internet.