Popularly known as Little Tibet, Spiti is nestled in the Himalayan Mountain range in Himachal Pradesh. Accessible only during summer, Spiti is as remote as it gets. Surrounded by mountains and glaciers, villages perched on mountain crests, quaint old monasteries, crystal clear rivers and streams, prayer flags fluttering in the wind and monks in their robes evoke strong comparisons with Tibet and leaves tourists to this remote region spellbound.
Spiti literally means ‘middle land’ as it is bordered by Tibet in the east, Ladakh to the north, Kinnaur to the south east and Lahaul and Kullu to the south. Situated at an average height of around 12,500 feet above mean sea level, Spiti lies along the Himalayan river of the same name. Cut off from the tourist map because of its remoteness, Spiti, along with its twin valley of Lahaul, has retained its pristine charm. Spiti and Lahaul are sub-divisions in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
It is not just culture and natural beauty that Spiti offers. Trekking and jeep safaris are some of the activities that you can do here. Trekkers flock to Spiti attracted by its scenic mountains, enchanting landscapes, glaciers and pristine environment. Pin-Parvati, Parang-La and Pin-Bhaba are some of the popular trails.
Even if you are not interested, a trip to villages situated around Spiti can be an interesting experience. Kunzum Pass, the gateway to Spiti, leads to the Bara-Sigri glacier, the second longest glacier in the world. Monasteries and gompas represent the ancient culture and tradition of Spiti. Tabo Monastery, one of the oldest Buddhism centers in western Himalaya, is located here. Murals of Tabo monasteries are quite similar to Ajanta paintings. Lamas practice dance, sing and play musical instrument or enchanting mantras.
Spiti remains snowbound during winter. The closure of Kunzum Pass results in Spiti remaining cut-off from the rest of the country. With temperatures falling below 15 degree Celsius and even locals remain in their houses and venture out only if absolutely necessary. The locals stock food supplies to last the winter and utilize their time to produce handicrafts.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SPITI
Accommodation options are limited. For accommodation; government as well as private guest houses, are available at Kaza, Tabo, Losar, Samd, Poh and Sagna in Spiti.
Homestays, however, are the best way to acquaint yourself with the local traditions and culture. It also helps that your money doesn’t just go to the owner of the home but also to the community. Homestay facilities are available in six villages – Langza, Komic, Demul, Lhalung, Dhankar and Mikkim.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN SPITI
Eating options are limited. Indian and Tibetan foods are available in and around Kaza. There are some ethnic restaurants in Spiti which specialize in Tibetan food and local dishes.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Spiti is as given below. The best time to visit Spiti is also specified.