Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India
More awe inspiring places found in the Himalayan region of northern India. This is Spiti Valley another high altitude desert region comprising of dry arid but beautifully coloured mountains, rocky snow capped peaks and crags along with oasis towns and villages which generally hug the Spiti river that runs through this district of Himachal Pradesh.
Tibetan like house in old Kaza, district headquarters of Spiti
Spiti is home to a population of buddhists and is very similar in more ways than one to Ladakh in the north (see previous post) and Tibet in China to the east. Similarities are to be found in the style and materials which are used to build houses, the religion and the landscape and lifestyle.
Strictly for the adventurous Spiti Valley is no easy destination to arrive at. The journey can take a day or two depending on stopovers along the way from Delhi which is the nearest metropolis down on the plains. Jeeps, local buses and hitching are the main modes of transport.
From Kullu Valley you must traverse the Rohtang pass (3978m) which takes you into Lahaul valley and from there cross the Kunzum La (pass) at 4521m that takes you into Spiti Valley. Alternatively you can travel from Shimla through Kinnaur but to do the whole circuit either way you must obtain a permit as the border here touches the Tibetan Autonomous region in China.
Lahaul Valley on the way to Spiti after having crossed the Rohtang Pass
Unmettaled road running through Lahaul Valley
The scenery is breathtaking in this part of the world and the months during spring and summer are the best times to see this place. Open to the outside world from late may/june to september/october there is a small window of opportunity whereby you can get your fix of high adventure and go back to the days of yore, back to a simple and calm lifestyle where the only thing you will find rushing about is the wind in your hair on a blustery day!
Tabo Monastery founded in 996AD at an altitude of 3,280m
The average altitude again like Ladakh to the north is around 3-3500m. Notable places worth having a look at as you pass through Spiti Valley are Losar, Kaza, Dankar, Tabo (the capital of the district) and Pin Valley which branches off nearby Kaza.
Kaza, the district headquarters at an altitude of 3,800m is a pleasant little town consisting of old and new sections. The old part of town is where you'll find cheap and welcoming accomodations with a sprinkling of restaurants along with traditional Spitian buildings. The new part of town is the administrative area where you can easily pick up a permit if you want to travel on to Kinnaur district.
Situated on the banks of the river, Kaza is surrounded by ochre coloured towering peaks and during the summer fields full of Peas (main agricultural crop) and wild flowers.
Flowering meadows of Kaza
Traditional farming tools
Bringing home the wild flowers to be used as fodder for the cattle
Around Kaza you can find some beautiful little villages which are only a stones through away but at a higher altitude. Ki gompa (pronounced Key) is one such place, a stunning Tibetan buddhist monastery located on a perilous rocky outcrop and close to the Spiti river. Said to have been founded a thousand years ago back in 1008-1064 CE.
Further along the road that goes to Ki is Kibber at an altitude of 4200m it is definitely not for the faint hearted, just breathing up there becomes a chore never mind ambling about the place but if you do decide to stay a while you will be rewarded with lots of peace and quiet, the luxury of staying in a traditional tibetan like himalayan village along with stunning views of the surrounding mountainous landscape.
The road to Kibber in the Spiti Valley
Kibber Village at 4200m altitude
Traditional houses of Kibber
High altitude Kibber with its Alpine flowers
Himalayan horses coming home after a day of grazing, these guys were taking part in a festival at Kibber.
Another stunning place just outside of Kaza is Langza Village (see introductory image at top of page). A very small hamlet that consists of Langza 1 and Langza 2. Nothing more is there other than jaw dropping scenery and traditional tibetan like houses with field crops on the outskirts, oh and a huge new buddha statue that has been built recently overlooking the village on a hilltop. What more could anyone ask for. As far away from the maddening crowds as one could imagine.
Alpine meadows at Langza 4400m altitude
Himalayan girl at Langza Village
The new Buddha Statue overlooking Langza Village
Langza Panoramic Landscape
This is a panoramic landscape view of the fantastic himalayan scenery to be discovered at Langza or Langcha village in Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, India. The mountain here in Shila Valley is the Chocho Khang Nilda otherwise known as Shila Peak and at around 6380m altitude it towers over the small hamlet of Langza at 4400m.