Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Spiti Valley: Land between Tibet and India

In a country of 28 states, each with its signature culture, food, language, history & landscape, its difficult to select one  destination in India. A long weekend was coming and I was searching for an offbeat destinations and on net I found Spiti Valley in Himachal. The Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The Middle Land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India.

Spiti Valley
I found destination quite intersting and zeroed down my search on Spiti Valley.  Spiti, means 'the middle country', it is the land of ragged and snow-capped mountains that reach out to the clear deep blue skies. It has been a forbidden land for most part of its history.

Ki monastery looks over one of the highest villages in the world
 The unique geography, climate and landscape of  Spiti, its unassuming little villages made me speechless.  The hospitality of its mountain people make it one of the most unique travel destinations in India. Spiti represent some of the remotest areas on Earth, probably the most remote region of India, and part of the Tibetan plateau. This valley is cut off from the world for over six months of the year (mid-October to July).Trekker’s paradise. Its known as “The Snow Desert”.

Though Spiti is a cold desert terrain it is home to several perennial rivers - Spiti, Pin, Chandra - whose gurgling sounds will soothe you in the night and whose ferocity will awe you. Ah, and not to mention the placid, azure blue lakes like Chandra Taal, Nako, Dhankar. I struck by some of the most beautiful canyons and the most unusual clay and rock formations along the river bed and in the mountains. The continuity of the landscape is only broken by numerous waterfalls and glaciers, including one of world's largest non-polar glaciers - Bara Shigri.

Kibber, the highest motorable village in the world! The homogeneity of the houses is charming and establishes the lack of social discretion in Spiti.
For the spiritual seeker, Spiti is home to some thousand year old Gompas (Buddhist Monasteries) and Tibetan art. There is also the mummy of a monk who meditated to death. Spiti has a very introvert type of culture  since the area has been in isolation for a long time. Dhankar Li, Tabo Mud, Gungri, Lidang, Sagnam, Mane Gogm amd Giu  are some of the monasteries which are placed in and around Spiti.

Key Gompa

A peep inside the resplendent Ki Monastery
The majority people who live here in Spiti are Buddhists who are the followers of the Geluk Pa Sect. I keep on hearing “Om mani padme hum” chant constantly and the repetition is believed to bring fortune and wash away all the sins. Spiti possesses a haunting beauty which one  cannot see elsewhere for all the bleakness seen there.

The place also boasts of the world's highest motorable and inhabited villages. A place where lucky few can still find fossils in the valleys or manage to sight Snow Leopards, Ibex, Red Fox, etc. Spiti is also known as the Fossil park of the world  as the three villages Kibber, Kaza and Kye fall on the favourite route for fossil collections. These villages are located at an altitude between 13,500 ft. and 14,400 ft. above sea level. Langza is a place well known for maritime fossils and are found on either side of Kang-yur and Paapen-yu nullahs near the village Langza.

Dead Snow along the main highway enveloped with layers of soil
Finally, it is the beautiful people of Spiti who lend the valley its divine soul. These people, despite the harsh environment and poor living standards, are jovial and courteous. The children of Spiti will undoubtedly remind you of the innocence and unfettered freedom & joy of childhood so deeply cherished by us all. They live in match-box styled white coloured houses with lungtas fluttering from their rooftops and speak Bhoti and Hindi languages.


  1. Such stunning images. The second image is never gonna fade from my mind.

    Om maani padme hum reminds me of my trip to Nepal. It is such a soothing tune, right?

  2. Awesome place! Added to my bucket-list.

  3. Thanks Dear!!
    Well said about Om maani padme hum tune. It directly goes to the soul of the person.

  4. amazing..simply amazing!!

  5. Spiti Valley has always been one of my favorite places to travel in India after Ladakh. We did a sprint in 4 days crazy drive Delhi - Kaza - Delhi. I am sure you might like it too:

  6. Thanks Sushmita.
    @Devilonwheel: Spiti Valley is like a heaven in the earth. I loved your post on Spiti Valley. Awesome pics and intersting narration.:)

  7. Spiti is on my travel radar from last three years. After seeing these images, can't wait to be there. Hope to reach there in June this year.

  8. Thanks!! it's worth visitng Spiti.

  9. Super stunning images,how do you manage to travel so much?Tell me your secret so even I will travel to so many exotic locales.

  10. Thanks Ankita!! There is no secret behind it:). My father is in transferable job so I lived in many parts of the country Uttrakhand, UP, Bhiar, Bangal, Orissa,Andaman Islands, Karnataka and now I m settled in Gurgaon. The places which I write are mostly weekend destinations, so its easy for me to roam around.:)

    1. Hey same here,my dad's also in a transferable job and its great fun,traveling around,and I have been to every state in India except Lakshwadeep which I might go once it gets open.Have you been to darjeeling,if not do visit the place,its amazing


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