Spiti, also known as the middle land, is a beautiful cold desert area in Himachal Pradesh. Spiti is known as the middle land as it lies between India to the South and Tibet to the North. In the past, a large volume of trade between India and Tibet was conducted through this region.
Even today, the cultural influence of Tibet in Spiti is unmistakable. Everywhere you go, you will see beautiful prayer flags fluttering in the wind, peaceful people with their prayer wheels and historically significant Buddhist monasteries where a large number of monks reside.
Spiti valley is a cold desert region with barren landscape with small patches of green agricultural land a midst the various hues of Brown. Adding to the contrast are the high snow covered peaks which make Spiti look like the land of myth and mystery.
The feeling of being in such an incredible place is enough for us to fall in love with Spiti, but if you’re still wondering why you should visit Spiti… here goes
1. Spectacular high mountains
The stunningly beautiful high mountains of Spiti are a sight to behold. Over centuries, the melting snow has eroded these mountains and created rock structures which look as though a master craftsman has delicately carved the mountain to give them this shape.
A feeling of insignificance looms large while traveling in Spiti, It will make you feel like a little speck before the mighty Himalayan mountains.
2. Photographing the beautiful landscapes and vistas of Spiti
The entire valley is a photographers delight. The play of light, altitude and crisp sunlight makes the barren landscape of Spiti a delight to photograph.
The friendly people, the red robes of monks, the lush green tracts of agricultural land, the white patches of clouds in the blue sky add a splash of color to Spiti.
Every now and then you’ll stumble upon something spectacular here and it will leave you speechless and reaching out for your camera faster than the speed of light.
3. Quaint villages of Spiti
Some of them have populations of just 35 people! Others are bigger, with populations of 200 to 250 people. These tiny villages under the shadow of massive mountains are simply stunning.
4. Village homestays in Spiti
Even though they are tiny and resources are hard to come by, people in Spiti are warm and hospitable. They will be happy to put you up for the night and provide you with simple and tasty local food.
At several places villagers have converted parts of their homes into guest houses. This is a great way for them to earn a little extra and for the traveler to get an authentic travel experience in Spiti.
5. Monasteries of Spiti
There are 5 prominent monasteries in Spiti which are situated at Tabo, Kye, Kungri, Dhankar and Komic. Each of them are historically and culturally significant to Spiti.
Tabo is over a 1000 years old and consists of a number of small temples. All structures of this monastery are made of mud and they look beautiful against the barren brown landscape of Spiti. Frescoes adorn the walls of monastery and we recommend that you carry a small torch inside to see the intricate artwork here.
Kye is the biggest monastery in Spiti and is also the largest training center for monks in Spiti. The monastery is situated atop a hill and is at an altitude of 4,166 meters (13,670 feet).
Kungri – After Tabo, this is the second oldest monastery of Spiti and was built around the 1330s. Kungri is located in the Pin Valley part of Spiti. This monastery is famous for its sword dance which is performed by residents of the Pin valley.
Dhankar – Dhang means cliff and Khar means fort. Translated, Dhankar means fort on a cliff. Dhankar was the traditional capital of Spiti in the 17th century and was the seat of power of the Nonos who were the rulers of Spiti till the British removed them.
The monastery is built at the edge of a 1,000 meters high cliff overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin rivers. The area looks spectacular from the trek route to Dhankar lake.
Komic monastery is situated at an altitude of 4,510 meters (14,800 ft) and is the highest monastery in Spiti. The settings of the monastery are simply spectacular. All around you will see high snow covered peaks, a vast barren landscape and clear blue skies.
The picturesque Komic village near the monastery has only about 120 residents who are happy to offer the traveler tea and snacks whenever they run into them.
Inside the monastery you will be greeted by a stuffed Snow Leopard which is said to be as old as the monastery itself.
The terrain near Komic offers endless possibilities of hiking and trekking.
6. Dhankar Lake
A little above the Dhankar monastery is the Dhankar lake. It takes about an hour and half to hike up to the lake. In the still waters of the lake, you will see the reflection of some of the highest snow covered peaks of Spiti. If you’re lucky, you might just be able to spot some exotic Spitian wildlife near this lake.
The area is so silent that you can hear the grass grow here. All in all a wonderful experience.
Another spectacular lake in Spiti, or Lahaul valley to be exact, is Chandrataal. While traveling from Kaza (Spiti) to Manali, one can take a diversion from Batal to reach this lake. The drive from Batal to Chandrataal is about 14Kms long on a dirt track and is certainly not for the faint hearted driver.
Sitting on the rocks after a walk around the lake will be nothing short of a therapeutic/ spiritual experience.
8. Fossil park at Langza
The Himalayas have risen from the sea, and this is proved by the fact that several marine life fossils have been found in and around Langza village. The fossil museum at Langza is a must visit. And even if natural history doesn’t interest you, you’ll love the environs of Langza with its lush green fields and its landscape.
9. The Lama in meditation at Gyu
The story goes that about 45-50 years ago when the Indian army was digging to build bunkers at Gyu village, their digging instruments hit a body. This body started bleeding from the corner of its mouth and they couldn’t really decipher what was going on. The body was excavated placed in a small mud hut. No special precautions have been taken to preserve this body.
It is said that the body is still in the same state as the day it was dug out and that its hair is still growing and monks from around come once a year to collect its hair to take it back for worship. It is said that this body is of a lama in deep meditation and that he still hasn’t died.
Whatever the real story, it does make for an awesome experience and a great story to tell firsthand 🙂
10. Kunzum pass
This high altitude pass at 4,590 meters (15,050 ft) remains snow covered for most of the year. The pass connects Lahaul valley with Spiti en route to Kaza from Manali. The pass is almost revered in Spiti and there are lots of colorful prayer flags fluttering in the wind at the pass.
A stopover at Kunzum is a must while driving to or from Spiti. The landscapes and the proximity to the high mountains will leave you stunned.
11. Mud village
For the casual traveler, Mud is just another tiny village in Spiti, but the discerning traveler will fall in love with this place. The entire village lies along a 100 meters long road and is flanked by spectacular high mountains on all side. There are a few small but charming bakeries here which are a meeting point for travelers and locals alike. Mud is also the starting point of the beautiful Pin Bhaba trek.
So here it is, reasons why we’re absolutely in love with Spiti. Do you have something to add to this? Do share in the comments below.
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