Spiti: Call it magic!

Tripoto
6th Jun 2014

Komic VIllage

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

View from Kee Monastery

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

Kibber Village

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

Beautiful Stupa at Kibber Village

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

World's highest Post Office!

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

Drive through the worlds most treacherous road

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

Group of volunteers in Komic Village

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

A typical homestay

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

Dhankar Village

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

Demul Village - cultural performance

Photo of Spiti: Call it magic! by Shweta

I love mountains! And my love for mountains has only grown after visiting Spiti valley, nestled in the Himalayan mountains between Tibet and India. Located in Himachal Pradesh, a state that is brimming with people and activities in summer, Spiti is so untouched and its beauty under-exposed, thanks to absence of an airport there.

Spiti is not a typical holiday destination with sight-seeing options, multi-cuisine restaurants and comfortable roads. It is a rough and challenging trip cold weather (5-15 degree Celcius), high altitude (above 4000 mts), poor sanitation infrastructure and limited food options. And this, i recommend this trip mainly to those who like to take that road less travelled.

I was enchanted by the blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage that Spiti had to offer. Majestic snow-capped mountains contrasted with the modest home stays and the most humble local families. Trekking across the breath-taking landscapes, listening to the local tales at the ancient Buddhist monasteries, eating steam momos in chilly weather and sleeping under a sky full of stars, Spiti offers a wide range of unforgettable experiences. To make this journey more exciting, I decided to volunteer with an NGO for a week, which made my trip even more fulfilling and special.

Spiti has 5 main villages, namely Langza, Komic, Demul, Lhalung and Dhankar, which are relatively larger villages with home stay  facilities. While i spent a couple of days in each village, i stayed in Komic for a week because my volunteering assignment was in Komic, thus making it a 15-20 days long trip for me. However, even a 7-8 days trip would be sufficient to cover these villages with an over night stay. 

There are two routes to enter Spiti:

1) From Shimla via Kinnaur: There is a motorable road which remains open unto Kaza for 8 to 9 months. Bus service is available, but considering the roads are challenging, it would be a good idea to spend on cabs for this 20 hr long road journey

2) From Manali via Rohtang Pass: While this is a beautiful road with glaciers enroute in Manali, the road only opens up in late June, so its a good idea to check before you take this route. 

It takes 30 hours of road journey through the world’s most treacherous road, to reach Kaza from Delhi. While the changing landscapes and weather will keep you hooked to your car window, it gets tiring driving through the long and uncomfortable roads. That is why its a good idea to relax and recover in Kaza for a couple of days. The weather and altitude is just perfect to get you acclimatised to Spiti. Kaza Monastery, Kee Monastery and German Bakery's desserts were the highlight of Kaza!
Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Shweta
A place not to miss in Spiti is the most beautiful Dhankar village, which can be reached by a shared cab from Kaza in about 2 hours. Dhankar fort, monastery and lake are the primary attractions in the village. But what makes this village unique is its odd shaped cliffs, that add so much beauty and character to the skyline of this village. Homestays are easily available and dal chawal will be served hot with a lot of love. Chatting with the locals about culture, movies and politics, you realize that they are updated about most current affairs of the country, despite being cut off by electricity and internet.
Photo of Dhankar Monastery, Sichling-Dhankhar Gompa, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India by Shweta
I took a cab from Kaza to Langza village, where I saw larger-than-life Buddha Statue in the middle of the mountains. From Langza, I trekked for about 5 hours to reach Komic village, enjoying some of the best views of Spiti valley and Himalayan mountains. The highest village in Spiti at 4500 mts, Komic has the most amazing view of Trans-Himalayan mountains. I stayed in Komic for a week, and with a group of volunteers constructed solar bath for Komic Monastery. The inhabitants of this village do not have regular electricity and live in extreme winter for most part of the year. Thus the solar bath was really valued by the Lamas of the monastery, who were kind enough to cook lunch for us, and fun enough to play cricket with us each day, in the cold windy weather. The home stays are basic, but the warmth and hospitality of the local people make you fall in love with them immediately.
Photo of Komic, Himachal Pradesh, India by Shweta
Trekking from Komic to Demul, through the brown mountains and green pasture lands, was another challenging and fulfilling experience. Apart from socialising with the locals, i also got to see a cultural performance by the local women of the village. They say this dance form is slowly going extinct, and Demul is one of the few villages in Spiti that still has women artists trained in this dance form. So while in Demul, don't forget to shake a leg with the local artists.
Photo of Demul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Shweta
Kalpa was a pitstop while coming down from Kaza to Delhi. Roughly 12 hours away from Kaza, its got tons of hotels to halt overnight, before heading to Shimla. A pretty monastery with snow capped mountains in the background, Kalpa is a quaint little town with tiny tea and momo shops. A night under the sky was a treat with a million stars, satellites and shooting stars!
6 Comment(s)
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Photo of Sonali Bansal
Sonali Bansal
Hey could be you please share the ngos information, imcase they need more volunteers may be I could be of some help.:)
Wed 09 17 14, 12:23 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
Photo of Sarita Singh
Sarita Singh
Hi Sweta, could u plz share details of NGO u tied up with. And wat kind of initiatives they do. U can also email on sarita08dec@gmail.com. Thx n regards, Sarita Singh
Sat 09 06 14, 22:52 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
Photo of Prashant Kandari
Prashant Kandari
You cud have also included Pin valley & chandra-tal.... which i missed , on my visit :( !! and for trekking towards chandratal get proper gears.. as sports shoes and track pants wont help~!~~ Taking the Shimla route is pretty scenic and you can see the changes in landscape.. After Kalpa the road becomes bad!!! v.bad!! p.s not a guide. just sharing !!!
Sat 09 06 14, 04:30 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
Photo of Ishaan Garg
Ishaan Garg
Hey hi. I am planning a solo spiti trip in oct 1st week. Can you pls suggest if any group treks for the same time
Fri 09 05 14, 01:43 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
Photo of Ishani Pahwa
Ishani Pahwa
Hi.. In what time of the year did you travel. Any idea about the weather conditions in first week of October? Thanks.
Fri 09 05 14, 00:39 · Reply · Edit · Delete ·
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