While the rest of the country succumbs to the monsoon, the so-called “Indian summer” finds in the Spiti Valley the coolest response to those who come to northern India looking for adventures, mountains and towns as enigmatic as its mystical winds. The true meaning of “expedition” is waiting for you.
The world could be divided into two types of places: those visited and those others where you experience a somewhat extinct sense of adventure on an increasingly globalized planet. One of these few places can be found in North India, displaying a range of places away from conventional tourist routes and where to find one of the most fascinating settings on the planet.
Caressing the Himalayas and nicknamed by some locals like «Little Tibet«, the Spiti Valley, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, is a stage where the asphalt roads still resist in some sections, the villages are swayed by ancient winds and the monasteries expire a peculiar mysticism, in the middle of a line that separates two worlds.
A place where you can visit the following places, if possible, with an accompanying guide who knows the best way to turn your expedition into a worthy travel notebook.
If you also decide to ride a Royal Enfield when taming these remote roads, adventure is guaranteed.
Are you ready to know all the places to see in the Spiti Valley?
1) Key monastery
Located at 4166 meters above sea level, the Key Monastery, also known as Kye Gompa, is the most famous attraction in the Spiti Valley. Birthplace for some 350 lamas, masters of Tibetan Buddhism so present in these lands, it is believed that the monastery was founded by Dromtön, a ward of the famous master Atisha in the 11th century. An icon that over the centuries was not only eroded during the arrival of the Mongols, but also due to looting, fires or the war between Ladakh and Kullu itself. Overlooking the famous Spiti river, the Key monastery seems like a majestic icon that invites you to get lost in its temples, painted murals or silent streets on which hang pennants of prayer. An essential during any visit to the Spiti Valley as well as the ideal setting for any photographic trip in India.
2) Tabo in Spiti Valley
Overlooking the banks of the Spiti River, Tabo is another of those enigmatic towns that you must visit during your stay in the Spiti Valley. A small village famous for the presence of the Tabo monastery, made up of 9 temples of Maitreya Buddha, successor to Gautama Buddha that, according to the scriptures, would reach the world 9 million years after his death. A belief that comes here in the form of stupas, murals and frescoes very similar to those we can find in the well-known caves of Ajanta, in the state of Maharashtra, much further south. Currently, Tabo and its monastery serve as a base for 60 lamas.
3) Suraj Tal
Also known as Lake of the Sun God, the Suraj Tal is a body of water of a certain emerald colour fed by the Bara-lachala glacier in the Spiti valley. It is considered one of the highest lakes in the world as it is located at 4883 meters high, being a fascinating stop during any trekking route or stopping place for all those travellers who cross the road between Manali (main base port of the many valley attractions) and Leh.
4) Kunzum Pass
Any great route through the Spiti Valley passes at some point through the famous Kunzum Pass, a mountainous stretch 4590 meters high 122 kilometers from Manali. It connects the valleys of Kully and Lahaul, offering a temple that splashes an ocher and white stage that seems to kiss the bluest sky you will ever have seen. The perfect place to stop to pray or simply listen to the supernatural silence that surrounds each and every corner of this land of mysteries.
5) Chandra Taal Lake in Spiti Valley
Another of the most famous lakes in the Spiti valley is Chandra taal lake and perfectly reachable from the Kunzum Pass is this “Lake of the Moon”, in the part of the Lahul and Spiti district and not far from the Chandra river. Located at 4300 meters above sea level and in the full Himalayas, the lake owes its name to its crescent shape, this being one of those special places to stop during a route on foot or to camp under a sea of stars.
6) Bara-lacha la Pass
Mentioned by Rudyard Kipling in his famous novel Kim as the lama’s entry point from Tibet to India, Bara-lacha la Pass encompasses some of the valley’s most inhospitable secrets. A mountain pass up to 4,890 meters high – one of the highest in the world – that unites the Lahaul district with that of Ladakh in which the misty mountains and the ocher moors whisper stories of another time.
7) Giu in Spiti Valley
Between monasteries and trekking steps, the Spiti valley also reserves curious places, to say the least. As an example, the town of Giu, located 3,200 meters above sea level and home to a mummy contained in a glass capsule adorned with the different offerings of the premises. Fed by the mysticism of these lands, the mummy is believed to belong to a lama buried by an avalanche for 500 years. Of course, it is given the status of guardian of a town made up of a few rudimentary houses dotted in the middle of a valley of magic and wind.
8) Pin Parvati Valley
Located in the south of the Lahaul and Spiti district and encompassed within the so-called Cold Desert Biosphere Reserve, the Pin Valley is the best reference when it comes to discovering the fauna and flora of the Spiti Valley. Influenced by Tibetan Buddhism in the form of small monasteries dotting the landscape, the park is famous for the presence of one of the most famous endangered species in northern India: the snow leopard whose sighting becomes the closest to a frozen mirage.
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