The first thing that comes to most travellers’ minds is that Spiti is this other-worldly place in Himachal Pradesh, far away from human reach. That’s because it was actually forbidden to travellers for almost 30 years. Spiti lies across Trans-Himalayas and is nothing like a quintessential Himalayan beauty, but is as much of a wonder. It doesn’t have soaring snow peaks, pine forests and sweeping green meadows; instead, since it is a cold desert mountain valley, it is replete with barren hills, grey scale slopes, pristine blue lakes, heavily inhabited villages and beautiful monasteries dramatically perched on the landscape.
Spiti is a perfect blend of Indian and Tibetan culture; and a traveller has much to see and do in this Himalayan landscape. This is what you can do:
Get a peak into Spitian religion by visiting their fascinating monasteries
The most interesting aspect of Spiti is its Gompas that are considered as the centre of Buddhism and are a major guiding force in a Spitian’s life. What makes them even more lovely is their unique location; perched atop mountains, almost all the villages have a monastery. Their vibrant thangkas, murals, scriptures, paintings and prayers of the red robed lamas also make for great photographs. The five major monasteries in Spiti are: Key Monastery, Tangyud Monastery, Dhankar Monastery, Kungri Monastery and Tabo Monastery.
Visit Komic – the world’s highest motorable village
When in Spiti, don’t miss out the chance to visit the world’s highest motorable village. Situated at a soaring altitude of around 15,027 feet above sea level, Komic village is a storehouse of ancient fossils with a monastery at its entrance and small hills to hike around the village. The best way to get to Komic is by hiring a private taxi from Kaza, which is only 18 – 20 km away.
See a 500 year old mummified body of a Buddhist Monk
This will literally blow your mind! Around 33 km from Tabo, in a small village named Gue, inside a single glass layer, rests a 500-year-old mummified body of a Buddhist monk, named Sangha Tenzin. This is perhaps one of the rarest mummifications where the process id completely natural with no usage of chemicals. The mummy’s darkened skin looks tight, has teeth and sits upright with his chin resting on his knee in a meditative posture.
Gorgeous home-stays in quaint villages of Spiti
There are quaint and compact villages scattered all across Spiti and are set at three levels of altitude: lower, middle and upper. Kaza, Dhankar, Lhalung, Demul, Komic, Kibber, Tashigang, Mud, Key, Langza and Gete are some well-known villages of Spiti. Each village has a handful of box shaped houses that have started offering home-stays to travellers; and experiencing living in one of those can be quite enriching. You can get a first-hand idea of what it’s like to live in a remote location, what food Spitians eat, what they do when the harsh winters keep them on house arrest for months and how they try to make the most of their resources – Spitians have dry composting toilets which generates manure that they use in their fields.
High Altitude Lakes Of Spiti
If you want to visit the crowing glory of Spiti aka the lakes, you’ve to trek your way up to them. Some of the most beautiful ones in the valley are: Chandratal, Suraj Tal and Dhankar. Chandratal particularly is the most favourite among travellers and camping at Chandratal under the star-studded night sky can be a life-altering experience. Sopona lake is another hidden gem that not many travellers know of.
A land of Adventures
Spiti offers a bunch of activities to all the adventure junkies out there: from biking, cycling, mountaineering, trekking to camping, ice climbing and overland jeep safaris. There’s something here for everybody.