Literally meaning 'Middle Land', Spiti Valley lies on the border between India and Tibet on the Trans-Himalayan Range in Himachal Pradesh. The Roads through the region are treacherous, the mountains unforgiving and the cold, ruthless. Yet, every year as the snow clears and the passes open up, adventurists flock to the valley to conquer it's grueling stretch starting from after Rampur Bushahr to Gramphu, a distance of roughly 500 kms through no man's land, devoid of any sort of connection with the outside world. A lesser known neighbor of Ladakh, Spiti is truly a world in itself. Demanding, deadly and breath-taking all at the same time.
With just two entry points to the region; one via Shimla at the bottom and the other through Manali at the top, the Spiti circuit remains cut off from the rest of India for the major part of the year due to heavy snowfall along both these routes. It's no wonder that its one of the least populated regions in the country with much of it being either inhospitable or unexplored.
Entering the valley through the Shimla side is more preferred owing to a much more gradual ascend that goes a long way in acclimatizing your body for much higher altitudes later on in the route as compared to the Manali side which is already at a high altitude. It also saves you an additional day or two that will otherwise be lost in getting permits for Rohtang Pass if you happen to be coming from Manali.
Irrespective of the side you choose to enter Spiti, do not forget to check whether Kunzum Pass is open for traffic - without which you'll neither be able to enter the valley from Manali nor will you be able to exit after Losar while coming from Shimla, meaning you'll have to turn around and go all the way back to Shimla.
This six-day itinerary covers almost all the must see gems of the valley starting from Shimla and ending with Gramphu and is one that I have personally followed in June 2017. Barring a few stops like Kalpa, Shipki La, Gue and Pin Valley, the rest of which I can vouch for and will definitely be worth your visit. If you happen to be coming from Delhi, you may choose to camp at Narkanda, Rampur Bushahr or Sarahan instead of Shimla for the first night as these places are devoid of the tourist rush as seen in Shimla but are just as scenic. However, the below itinerary starts from Shimla for ease of reference. You may adjust your itinerary accordingly.
The idea is not to limit your trip to six days or just to these places but rather to plan it keeping these places and your time frame in mind. But do keep in mind that traveling to Spiti Valley is unlike any other place in the Country and you never know when or if you'll be back here. So focus on the journey rather than the destination as the journey is an adventure in itself and try to see as much of it as possible and be rest assured, there's plenty to see. With vistas changing at every turn of the road, it truly is a feast for the eyes and soul.
DAY 1: Shimla-Rampur Bushahr-Sangla-Chitkul (250 kms)
Places of Interest:
Chitkul - A little hamlet tucked away amongst snow-clad mountains and famed for being the last inhibited village on the Indo-Tibetann border, one must deviate around 75 kms towards Sangla from Karcham Dam in order to reach Chitkul. Other places of interest along the route include the Kamru Fort at Sangla.