The journey to the Middle Land or the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh is a journey that captures the imagination of travellers and is arguably the best road trip in India. Here are 21 must do things while in Spiti Valley:
- Nako village walk:
A walk around the tiny hamlet of Nako is a must for anyone who plans on visiting Spiti Valley from the Kinnaur route. Even though Nako falls under Kinnaur district, the village feels more like Spiti. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, the village is nestled around a very pretty lake by the same name and the village is like a maze with numerous lanes and by-lanes and houses made of mud and stone. There are tiny, cute animal pens outside all houses in the village.
- The Mummy village:
Believe it or not, the village of Gue has a mummy. A lama (monk) who has been mummified was found during an army excavation and was placed in a tomb in the Valley in the year 1975. According to carbon dating, the mummy is believed to be around 500 to 600 years old.The mummy is in a squatting position dressed in silk robes. The teeth and hair are still well preserved and the mummy is kept in a glass chamber in a small enclosure close to the Gompa.
- Monastery stay in Tabo:
Monastery stays are always beautiful but a night stay at Tabo Monastery is like none other. The monastery was founded in 996 AD and is the second oldest after the monastery in Lahsa, Tibet. The rooms in the monastery guest house are made out of mud and sandalwood and give travellers a unique once in a life time opportunity to spend a night in the monastery where the current Dalai Lama will be retiring in.
- Meditate in the monastery:
Spiti Valley is home to numerous monasteries and most of which are over 600-800 years old and are mostly built out of mud, stone and the interiors are done up with sandalwood. The monasteries of Tabo, Dhankar, Komik and Key have arguable the best locations and are ideal for anyone who is looking to spend time meditating.
- Star Gaze:
The altitude of inhabited villages in Spiti Valley ranges from 10,000-15,500 feet above sea level and at this high altitude star gazing is an absolute delight. The villages of Tabo, Dhankar, Kibber, Komik, Lossar are ideal place to just sit and look up to the heaves and spot one if not a dozen shooting stars and a part of the Milky Way, if fortune favours you during your time there.
- Selfie at Komik:
If selfies are your thing, then the village of Komik is the place to take one at. At 15,027 above sea level, the village is one of the highest in the world. The bowl shaped village and it’s colorful monastery are make a perfect spot to take your selfies.
- Send a post card:
While in Spiti Valley, do visit the village of Hikkim which is sandwiched between the village of Komik and Langza. Hikkim boast of the highest post office in the world (14,400 above sea-level) and sending a post card to a loved one from this altitude is something which will go a long way in telling them how much they matter to you.
- Fossil hunting:
In the villages near Langza and Hikkim, it’s impossible to not look around for around five minutes and not find a fossil. The kids from the village will also come up to you and try selling you fossils. Fossils make a good souvenir from the place.
- Experience a home stay:
The best way to experience the culture and get a real feel of Spiti Valley is to spend a night in a humble home stay. Home stay options are available all over the valley and some of the best are in the village of Kibber and Langza.
- Refuel at the highest fuel station:
A pit stop for fuel at Kaza is a default one for everyone who is travelling to Spiti Valley, since it is the only fuel station in the entire valley and also the highest commercial retail fuel station in the world.
- Shopping at Kaza:
The market area in the town of Kaza is the best place to shop in the entire valley. The shops sell typical Tibetian and Buddhist handicrafts which include prayer flags, bowls and wheels as well as Buddha statues. A couple of shops also sell Spiti t-shirts which make ideal souvenirs. A unique thing sold in a couple of shops is the human thigh bone (fumer) and skull which is decorated in silver and gold art work and used mainly for religious purposes.
- Chill by the Spiti River:
Stop your car or bike at a spot where the road meets the river and just stop there and do nothing but just unwind, relax and soak in what Mother Nature has to offer. On the banks of the river, one will find plenty of unique pebbles and rocks, too.
- Key Monastery:
You can’t make a trip to Spiti Valley and miss out on the beautiful Key Monastery which has been built on top of a hill and over looks the Spiti River and the entire valley. The monastery not only looks very pretty but is also one of the most important monasteries in the entire valley. Complimentary chai (tea ) is served to everyone who visits the temple.
- Dhankar Lake:
A short 45 minute hike from the village of Dhankar, through a barren trail which offers hikers a 360° breath taking view of the surrounding landscape and one will reach a tiny green tint lake which is known as Dhankar Tso (lake). The lake has a small stupa and prayer flags can be tied to the railing of the stupa.
- World’s most treacherous road:
While approaching Spiti Valley from the Kinnaur route you will pass through roads which have been cut through the mountains, cliff hanging tunnels and part of the road which have sing board warning travellers of stones falling from high above. This belt of the Himalayan roads is dubbed to be the world’s most treacherous road and a road block because of sudden land slide caused by falling rocks and boulders is a sure shot while on the road.
- Pin Valley:
Home to the Himalayan endangered snow Leopard and it’s prey the ibex, Pin Valley National park is the only cold desert national park in Himachal Pradesh. The valley derives its name from the Pin River which flows through it and is located south from the village of Dhankar. Mud is the most developed village in the valley and has the best accommodation. Pin Valley has the most greenery in the entire region of Spiti.
When you are in the Himalayas and especially the Spiti Valley no matter what, you will surely feel a connect with Mother Nature. To aid in this, local Himalayan legend has it that if you stack seven stones on top of each other and make a wish, your wish will come true. It’s also said to bring good luck to travellers along their journey.
18: Camping at Chandartal:
Chandartal or moon lake is easily the best part of Spiti Valley and spending a night camping at the lake camp site which is around two kilometres from the lake completes the whole Spitian experience. The hike from the campsite to the lake which is more of a simple walk is something that words can’t explain and no amount of pictures can do justice to the natural beauty on display.
19: Cross the Kunzum Pass:
Kunzum Pass is the gateway to Spiti Valley via Manali and the Lahaul Valley. Situated at an altitude of around 13,054 feet above sea-level, it is one of the highest mountain passes in the world and on reaching the pass travellers are greeted by Buddhist prayer flags and stones which signify the string Buddhist influence in the region. Kunzum Pass offers a brilliant view of Bara-Sigri, the second longest glacier in the world.
20. Picture with a lama:
A must do thing in Spiti Valley is to get a picture clicked with a lama. The lamas in the monastery’s in Spiti Valley are very friendly and warm people and are always up for a picture and never say no.
21: Lunch in a monastery:
Every village in Spiti Valley has its very own monastery and what makes these monasteries unlike any other in the country is that they all generously serve travellers something to eat and drink. If you reach a monastery in the morning, you will be served tea with Spitian bread and some dal and if you reach around lunch time the lamas literally force you to have a meal with them. The lunch at the monastery includes simple dal, rice and one vegetable. Lunch is served at a very meager cost for the life time memories it provides travellers with. The monasteries at Key, Komik and Kungri are few where one can experience this meal.
The memories are endless while on the road in the Spiti Valley.