Spiti, the lesser known cousin of Leh, the better looking less populated version of Leh and of course a place where the roads meet the waterfall meets the mountain in one harmonious line (It may sound pretty, but its f*cking scary!!) This June, the Chefs sister got married in Manali and the familia with the Foodie decided to go all over the Spiti valley to take in its beauty and absorb the vibe. We won’t be talking much about the food and the view but have decided to share with you 15 pictures that we are sure will give you a hard on. It will be on your travel list for the next year. The link here will show you our entire route through the mountains. (Spiti Valley Route)
Starting off at Manali, our first main pass was the Rohtang pass (3979 mts above sea level), or as the locals call it, “Chotta Chandigarh.” Due to its closeness to Punjab and Delhi, Rohtang is totally populated by people wearing their Onesies, Snow hats and of course Salwar Kameez, because JUST!!! For a traveler just go past them, trust us there are WAY better places to stop a little ahead. Even though the map says its just a 2 hour drive from Manali, due to the massive amount of traffic it can take anywhere between 3 and 5 hours just to reach Rohtang.
Next stop is the famous Kunzum Pass (4590 mts above sea level) with its breathtaking (away) view, the only problem at this height is breathing and the high speed winds. This is the pass that allows you to enter the Spiti Valley.There are three small holy shrines which are surrounded by prayer flags and the amazing snow covered peaks. A lot of these shrines will come along the road, so its said one must do a parikrama ( like taking a circle around a temple deity) round the shrine and then move on with ones journey. Again this is supposed to be an hour and a half from Rohtang, but due to the roads it’ll take one another 3 hours.
Our first destination was supposed to be Chandrataal, since the roads weren’t opened we headed straight to Kaza village. Again just over an hour away from Kunzum pass,it took us 3 hours to get there. The line *Raaste ki Maa ki* come to mind while driving here. But yes, almost 9 f*cking hours later, we were at Kaza. Not giving two rats as* we passed the f*ck out! Using Kaza as a base camp, one can go to all the small villages close by, namely — Kibber, Komick, Hikkim, Fossil Rich Langza and the famous Key Monastery.
The whole world knows about Key Monastery, this is just a 45 minute drive from Kaza village. Lots of small rooms make up this Gompa (Monastery) which sits at a height of 4166 mts above sea level. There are many pictures of the gompa online and trust us they are all spot on. Of course it looks more beautiful up close and person. Like every other gompa, there is a school where young monks study, loads of prayer flags and a certain calm and peace that comes along with every monastery. Ahead of Key is the small town of Kibber (4270 mts above sea level) which also has a small monastery and houses that are built of stone. Most of these little towns is Stop, See and move on, so coming back to Kaza we ate dinner and got some needed sleep as the next day we were off to Langza.
Langza is a small village at 4419 mts above sea level with just over 150 people living there. At first it looks like any other village in the Spiti valley, but once your car turns into the last turn to the village, you will see its vast space, Buddha Statue and the magnificent peaks in the background. Not only that, Langza is the only village in our country where fossils can be found!!!
Apparently when the Indian peninsula joined the Eurasian one this was the first point of contact. So a lot of fish and shellfish fossils can be seen, along with river ferns and snails. Just going out and hunting for these fossils was something else. Since the village is at such a height, be careful as you will run out of breath.
Next to Langza are two of the highest habitable villages of our country: Hikkim and Komic. Hikkim at 4445 mts above sea level and has the highest polling station in the World. Komic at 4580 mts above mean sea level has the worlds highest village with a road. Its f*ckingcrazy how people survive here and live a life, but they do. They have electricity all through the summer, they use cow dung to make food and even use human feces as natural fertilizers. As these villages are well connected they are definitely worth a visit when in the area!!!!
The village of Dhankar was our next spot which also happens to be the old capital of Spiti situated at a height of 3870 mts above sea level. It takes about an hour to reach Dhankar from Kaza. This village was strategically made in between two hills with its fort and monastery at the top. Out of the four sides its not visible from three thus giving it a great advantage when it came to their enemies. This village looks just like a habitable version of Macchu Pichu in Peru(Of course without the Mayan structures.) Lots of homestays make this place a great escape for travelers to try something new.
As there’s a lake, Dhankar has all round the year water supply for the villagers and for farming. Apparently here is where some of the country’s best potatoes are grown. An overnight stay is a must at Dhankar as the Monastery, Fort and the finger-like rock formations will stun you!!! A quick drive towards the Chinese border will take you to the small yet extremely important village of Tabo(3820 mts above sea level).
In the past Tabo was on the route and a major stop in the Silk Route from Europe to China. Thus here a monastery was built in 996 A.D and to this day is the oldest functioning monastery in the World!!! This monastery has 9 temple buildings each having a significance and the paintings are compared to those at Ajanta in Maharashtra. The old scripts and writings saved in this monastery are of the utmost importance and tell us about the times in the olden days.
Traveling through this Dessert Valley, we couldn’t really believe our eyes. The history, the trouble and the people who have been living here for time immemorial; with no rain, lots of f*cking snow and how they’ve survived and continue living is something commendable. Just next to the the dry and barren Spiti Valley is the lush green Pin Valley (3800 mts above sea level); its also the home to the famous Pin Valley National Park.
With purple rocks, lots of waterfalls and perfect sun rise and sun sets this was the most sublime place to end our trip. The temperature is spot-on, good sun shine and lesser winds in comparison to the Spiti Valley Pin Valley is a perfect place to enjoy the summer heat of the North. Just when we thought our travel was over, we got news that the road to Chandrataal had opened. Since we had already broken our backs because of the amazing roads, we said “lets get them f*cked up even more??”
Hands down the scariest roads in our entire trip. The saying “ga*d phut ke haath main ana” comes to mind. The road, atleast what was left of it was a narrow path where just about one car could fit. There were times when our tyres were out of the road and a certain chill went down our spine. There would be areas where a provision was made for two cars to pass, but those were few and far beyond and if you missed those, its a reverse ride back about 2 to 3 kilometers. But all is well that ends well, that line couldn’t have been more true than to be used here. Base camp having quite a few tents around, its another 2 kilometers drive to the spot and then another 2 kilometers walk to Chandrataal. Initially all cars were allowed to the lake, but you us Indians; thus a man made wall was built and now we all have to walk. Even the walk to the lake was spectacular, the breeze, fresh air and views were to die for. The circumference of the lake is a 4 km walk and one that everyone must do! The clear waters, sounds of the lake and the breeze just elevate this walk to something that’s close to being high on drugs (But you know the good kind :|)
Well we can’t really do justice to the Spiti Valley in these pictures, one has to really go there to absorbs the positive vibes and the breathtaking views. Yes but one must be careful as the roads are dangerous, the temperatures do drop and breathing does get difficult. And incase you’ve been couting correctly, the last momo picture was the sixteenth photo we’ve uploaded, because you know mother-f*cking MOMO!!!!!!
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