Spiti, in literal terms, translates to the ‘Middle Land’, owing to its geological location between Tibet and India. The influence of both cultures is seen plainly for anyone adventurous enough to wander into this dry desert climate, which is not as bad as it sounds. Progress and development in the region over the past years has made the Valley accessible in the summers to even the stingiest of travellers.
The valley acts as the access point to the northernmost reaches of the country, right up to the borders of both Pakistan and China. Buddhist influence is clearly visible in the local architecture and culture, consisting of low single storied huts, built into and around the mountainside.
Spiti is just a day’s journey away from the hill town of Manali, which may not sound much. However, to arrive here you need to cross not one, but two high altitude passes, namely Rohtang La and Kunzum La, which are jam-packed with snow throughout most of the year. The presence of these two monoliths limits the travel time during the year to just a few months.
The best time to travel to this heavenly valley is between July and October, when the roads are cleared of snow and the semi-monsoon climate transforms the landscape into a cloudy desert heaven.
Temperatures range from 15’ – 30’ Celsius, which may feel colder owing to the valley’s average altitude of over 4000 meters.
As a Buddhist centre of influence and history, Spiti is home to some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the world, including the Ki Monastery, and Tabo Monastery, both of which are favorites of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Pin Valley, located just a day’s journey from Kaza, is home to a small population of Buchen Lamas, still practicing the Nyingma form of Buddhism, which dates back to the 8th Century, and is one of the oldest forms of the religion practiced today.
Spiti Valley also acts as the gateway between the predominantly Hindu regions in the South, and Buddhist regions further north, once again justifying its name as the middle land.
The indigenous folk are naturally Buddhist, and practice the Vajrayana form of Buddhism, the form is also extensively practiced in the northern regions of Tibet and Ladakh.
Ki Monastery: The Ki Monastery is the biggest monastery in the Valley and is home to over two hundred monks. Since its construction in the 11th Century, the Monastery has had a tumultuous history, having been attacked repeatedly by invaders and neighbors alike, and having not only survived, but thriving to this day. The inner walls of the holy site are covered with beautifully designed murals and paintings, and the rooms are filled with ancient murals and manuscripts.
Dhankar Monastery and Lake: Another spectacular specimen of the local architecture is the Dhankar Monastery, just above which lies the beautiful Dhankar Lake.
The Dhankar Gompa was built as fort monastery and is located near the small settlement of the same name. The Monastery sports an epic view, overlooking the Pin River and the landscape spread around you.
Tabo Monastery: Tabo is another centre of influence in the valley and is home to the Tabo Monastery, the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both the country and the Himalayas.
The Temple is home to a priceless collection of thankas(scroll paintings), manuscripts, statues, frescoes and other magnificent specimens of this ancient culture..
Kibber: Kibber is a beautiful high altitude village located in the valley, and is somewhat unique as it is the only village in the valley where stones are used instead of mud and rocks, as is seen throughout the valley.
It is home to the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, famous for its small population of snow leopards and flora with medicinal properties.
All the attractions mentioned are just the tip of this desert iceberg. It can only be truly appreciated by experiencing it for oneself.
So what are you waiting for?
Contact us now and be a part of this unique, once in a lifetime adventure!