One road trip to Spiti, and all you want to do is ‘Let’s go again!!’
Making up our minds for doing the 11 days road trip with a little baby was not easy at all. It was the first time ever that we were so anxious about our ‘Travel’ plans!! Post baby, the lifestyle changed every bit and traveling together (particularly the adventure trips) became like dream in a glass bottle. However, our zeal for road trips couldn’t keep us away for a very long time and after a break of a year we decided to pack our bags and set out on a road trip along with our 11 months old little love to the revered Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India. Spiti is as stunning as it name sounds!! Lahaul–Spiti lies in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is predominantly occupied by Tibetan refugees and hence the region has pretty much feel of Tibet. Read a deep conversation with a Tibetan Refugee ‘Jampa’!!
Spiti is a cold desert mountain valley – the middle land between Tibet and India. Itinerary – 11 days from New Delhi – Spiti Valley – New Delhi
We had no idea that we had signed up for the most challenging, surprising and oddly pleasing odyssey. The road trip to this wonderland was an unforgettable journey, the memories are still fresh and though it was freaking difficult we would love to do it again!!
The resplendent Spiti will leave you spoiled, and here is why –
- Exigent Roads – There are two ways to reach Spiti – one via Manali and the other one that lets you through the Trans Himalayas via Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti. We covered the region via scenic Kinnaur route, the National Highway 22 (NH -22) and the Hindustan Tibet Road. It was thrilling as well as challenging to drive on these roads. The transcendent roads are something you would have never seen or experienced before. These roads are touted as one of the most treacherous and dangerous in the world. The NH 22 will drive you insane for lot of reasons but you’ll love the adrenaline rush and thrill.
The hairpin bends of NH – 22, the narrow dimensions, encountering natural waterfalls, close encounters with trucks and buses, the frequent bad patches will make you feel ecstatic and sometimes insane too. Take a virtual tour of the roads here.
- Insane Landscapes –The gigantic rustic brown mountains, sometimes chocolate dipped and sometimes covered with snow with extra effect of pristine blue waters flowing. The jaw dropping views of sunset and sunrise will begin around Kalpa. As you keep moving forward the lush green hills will gradually transform to dusty and big sand like mountains. You are going to miss the greens!! But you will be able to embrace the change too.
- Get High! –The high altitude is not just high is really quite high to handle. Once you cross Sarahan and approach Kalpa, the excitement begins. All the villages in Spiti Valley feel like perched on top to name a few – Totally Tabo (3050 m), Dhankar Heights (3894 m), Key(4166m)!! All wobbly and super windy. Interestingly the route till Tabo is challenging but the one from Tabo to Kaza and Kaza to surrounding villages is not bumpy. You will fall in love with the views from such altitude. However, the wind at such height is strong enough to hurl your car to wobble. We experienced it so many times, while approaching Dhankar, again while visiting Key Monastery and then Gue village.
- Intriguing History – The place is inundated with attention-grabbing stories and they will govern you mind space for long as you will keep thinking about it while you drive on empty roads wondering are you the only soul loitering around.
For instance, Gue is also known as the village of mummified lama!! Sangha Tenzin, was a Buddhist Monk, who adopted a process of natural mummification for salvation of cure his village from scorpions scourge and his soul abandoned the human body more than 500 years ago. There is a process of self mummification which is really complicated and extremely rare phenomena. The process is known as ‘Sokushinbutsu’. We had no idea about all this till we covered Gue village.
Then, the Key Monastery, one of the highest and oldest monasteries, had been attacked so many times in past that only box like structure as it exists today could survive. It looks beautiful though.
- Oldest Monasteries – Spiti Valley is home to oldest and largest surviving monasteries in the world. For instance, Tabo Monastery was built in 996 AD (more than a millennium back!!); Key Monastery was founded by Dromton around 11th century, Tangyud Gompa, one of the highest monasteries, at an elevation of 4,587m, is over 500 years old!! The fusion of Indo-Tibetan art at the monasteries in just amazing.
- Contagious Smiles – The people you meet on your road trip whether at Monasteries, Restaurant or in the villages, will win your hearts with their smile!! They are remarkably warm and helpful, may be because the region is not highly commercially exploited plus for at least four months in a year it’s totally cut off from the world.
- Incredibly Unpredictable – So, you are busy driving lost in the inviting roads and suddenly you spot a ‘Red Fox’ or a ‘Golden Eagle’ or may be some animal more exotic (if you wait for few hours). Do carry your binoculars. We spotted both but couldn’t capture the perfect one. Next, you are at Langza, and you discover a fossil!! Whoa, exciting!
Spiti can get as stirring as you want it to be. Moreover, there are so many places to explore within the region, it’s difficult to reach and cover everything.
Don’t miss out on critical information about Spiti here, also happens to be one of most popular posts in Spiti section – Things you must know, before you go!!!
Happy Traveling 🙂 Bring back loads of happy memories!!