Far away from the usual touristy attractions of Himachal, lies a barren cold desert of Spiti .While most people connect Himachal to places like Shimla and Manali when it comes to exploring the state, it has a lot more to offer than just the usual tourist destinations. In this post, we are looking at what makes Spiti Valley different from the rest of Himachal and why every inch of it is worth experiencing.
Geography and location of Spiti
Spiti Valley is located in the trans-Himalayan regions of Himachal Pradesh. Owing to its high altitude and rocky terrain, the weather in Spiti is really cold from all the other areas of Himachal.
Also, the terrain in Spiti is quite different from what you will find in rest of the state. The Valley is full of large meadows, vast barren flatlands, huge mountains with tiny villages perched on them, rocky hills, glaciers and streams. Spiti Valley for the first time may make you feels like you’ve entered an alien world. Also, unlike other parts of Himachal, you will not find any trees in and around Spiti which makes the landscape of Spiti very different.
Spiti Valley is located in close proximity of Tibet. Also, the old Indo-Tibetan highway passes through parts of Spiti and Kinnaur making it an interesting visit. If you visit the valley and have ample amount of time , must try to visit the not soinfamous Shipki-La which connects India with Tibet. You need to get the permissions prior from the administration at Reckong Peo before you pay a visit. Thus, the geography and location of Spiti is what makes it unique and distinct from the rest of Himachal.
Weather of Spiti
Being a cold desert, weather in Spiti is quite harsh and confusing . The harsh sun rays can burn your skin during the daylight, while the shaded areas may be so cold that you would be required need to wear a jacket. Also, during winters, Spiti gets covered with a thick blanket of snow making it bitterly cold. The temperatures drop below -30 degrees in extreme winters making it really difficult to perform any activity . Thus, if you are someone who can handle the harsh weather and enjoy the adventure it embarks, winters is a perfect time to enjoy this beauty. The roads might be closed at places and you might not be able to visit certain towns, but just being at the high altitude where everything is covered in the blanket of snow is a special experience in itself.
(Image Source- Ashish Pawgi)
The summers is the ideal time for visiting Spiti as it offers it’s a certain degree of warmth along with the usual cold blows. Summer months are ideal for camping and visiting most of the places that may be inaccessible during winters. Also, do not forget to take good amount of sun screen, a pair of sun glasses and a cap/hat with you as the direct sunlight can be harsh on your skin. Thus, the weather of Spiti is quite different and is likely to change anytime unexpectedly unlike other regions in Himachal.
(Image Source- Ashish Pawgi)
Culture and Traditions of Spiti
Spiti, with its close proximity to Tibet is better known as the land of Lamas. The culture and traditions of most of the villages in Spiti are quite different that the other parts of Himachal. Most of the population follows Buddhism and Bbuddhist culture. The very way people dress and eat in Spiti is largely different than other parts of Himachal. Men prefer to wear the traditional dress with a coat while women prefer robes. Also, Spiti is largely influenced by the mystical and occult culture since long time. This results in having different traditions and rituals in most of the villages of Spiti.
There are numerous festivals that take place in Spiti throughout the year. Let us take a look at a few of them; you must visit to experience the rich culture and tradition of Spiti Valley.
- Losar – This festival marks the beginning of a New Year and is celebrated in almost all of the monasteries of Spiti during the month of February. The main attraction of this festival is the popular Chham dance where lamas wear different costumes and masks. Apart from this, there are numerous rituals that you can witness during the festive period. The festival continues for about 3 days and is rich with culture and traditions that have been prevalent since long . If you happen to be in Spiti during the Losar, make it a point to experience the same..
- Kungri Festival – This one is celebrated largely in the Kungri Monastery of Pin Valley. The festival includes Chham dance and many other activities which are interesting enough to to keep you engaged. Make suyou attend Kungri Festival if you happen to be in Spiti during the time. (Note: a link will be added to kungri monastery about lakes and monasteries in Spiti after upload)
- Kee Festival- This one is among the most popular festivals of Spiti Valley. It takes places in the famous Kee/Key Monastery of Spiti Valley. The monastery is regarded as the largest one in the whole of the valleyi. During the 3 days of festival, you will get to learn more about Buddhist culture and rituals through dance, prayers and different activities.
The amount of unexplored places in Spiti is large. This is mostly due to its location and geography. With the increase in number of tourists every year, places like Kaza, Key, Kibber, etc are now known to people. But apart from these beautiful places, Spiti has a lot to offer to its visitors. You must spend a few days in the untouched Pin Valley of Spiti to truly witness the beauty that it offersis.
Also, there are quite a few treks and trails in Spiti which are lesser known and equally exciting. It’s imperative to visit Spiti in order to truly witness the impeccable beauty it embodies.
Pin Valley is a part of Spiti that is truly unexplored in every sense. May it be the tiny villages with no roads, huge mountains, magnificent grasslands or the warmest of people, Pin Valley never disappoints its visitors. (
Let us take a look at how you can explore Pin Valley the best way
Located in the vicinity of the Pin Valley National Park in Spiti, Pin Valley is truly a marvel of nature. Although it is within the Spiti Valley, the ecosystem of Pin Valley is totally different from that of Spiti. Also, the landscape changes drastically as you enter Pin Valley. With the majestic Pin river flowing through the valley, accompanied by green fields and colorful flowers all around, surrounded by the tall mountains and miles of isolation, Pin Valley is home to around 17 villages and a few monasteries. So get ready to lose yourself into the magical land of Pin Valley.
Before looking at the details of things to do in Pin Valley, take a look at the map of the Valley.
How to reach Pin Valley?
In order to reach Pin Valley, you need to take a left on the Attargo bridge right ahead of Dhankar. Once you cross the Attargo bridge and drive further inside , you enter the Pin Valley.
You can almost see the landscape change as you enter Pin Valley. It is almost as if you enter a different world altogether. The last village of Pin Valley is Mud which is among the most beautiful villages you will ever see. While on the way, you pass through a number of small villages, beautiful monasteries and much more.
The best way to reach Pin Valley from Kaza is by the local transport. A bus leaves for the village of Mud daily from Kaza at 4 in the evening. Also, if you wish to travel slowly and reach Pin Valley at your own pace, you can book a private taxi. Apart from that, there are a number of shared taxis that you can get near Attargo Bridge.
Places you must visit in Pin Valley
- Spiti Pin River Confluence
One of the most spectacular sights to witness when you are in Pin Valley is the confluence of Spiti and Pin River. The confluence is right after you enter Pin Valley from Attargo Bridge. Halt for a while to witness the marvel of nature where words fall short for expressing what you shall experience.
(Image Source – Ashish Pawgi )
2) Kungri Monastery
Among the oldest monasteries of Spiti , Kungri monastery is a place you should not miss. Built back in 1330 AD, Kungri monastery is located on the top of a hill overlooking the beautiful pin river and mighty mountains surrounding it. Also, while you are there, you will experience the warm hospitality of monks who offer you food at times and even a place to stay in the monastery if need be.
(Image Source – Ashish Pawgi)
3) Pin-Parvati Pass Trek
Often regarded as one of the most popular treks in Himachal, Pin Parvati Pass starts from the village of Mud in Pin Valley and ends at Kalga in Parvati Valley. The pass traverses through the Pin Valley National Park taking you through some of the most beautiful landscapes, lakes and forests. The trek is not for the faint hearted and you must take a local guide with you if you are planning to do trek the Pin Parvati Pass.
Pin Parvati Pass is quite tough and needs to be done with proper care.
Mudh is easily amongst the best untouched villages you will ever come across in Pin Valley. Located at the end of the motorable road in Pin Valley, Mudh is literally the last village . The views from the village are quite breathtaking and the place also serves as the starting point for a number of hikes and treks. Visit the village to witness the beauty of a picture perfect village perched on a hill surrounded by huge mountains and beautiful fields with a river passing by.
(Image Source- Ashish Pawgi)
5) Pin Valley National Park
The Park is quite big in size and it would take around a month to explore it truly and completely. While there are no marked trails in the park, you can explore around on your own. Also, make it a point to take a local guide along who can show the places where you can spot wildlife. If you are lucky enough, you might spot a blue sheep, Ibex or even a snow leopard in winters. Thus, visiting Pin Valley National Park and exploring it at a slow pace is something you must not miss while you are at it. Also, if you can manage to come here and stay during winters, there is nothing like it. Pin Valley turns into a magical wonderland during winters. You need to take extra care during winters as it is extremely cold and the temperatures drops below -10 quite naturally. With the ample care , you can make the most out of your winters in Pin Valley.
While Spiti is beautiful year round and has different landscapes to offer in different months, the season from June to September is the best time to visit Pin Valley. During this time, both the roads from Shimla and Manali are open. Also, during September you will get to see lot of flowers blooming around in Spiti which is a sight you should not miss.
In the end, even though it is a part of Himachal, Spiti Valley with its rugged terrain, vast barren flatlands, huge mountains, tiny villages and warmest of people is certainly different from the rest of Himachal in many ways. It is charming in ways you would never have imagined and shall lure you to its unending beauty before you even realise . Also, it is best to explore Spiti, like a local which is the ideal way to make the most out of your trip.