Spiti Valley Expedition (Shimla to Manali Circuit)
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“A world within the world” - Rudyard Kipling
For centuries Spiti valley was cut off from the rest of the world, a very few of men from outer world dared to venture into the endless vastness of cold barren high altitude desert lands of Spiti. But the ones who did, were never same again after they saw the beauty of the valley.
The endless mountains covered in white cottony snow, the only sound to hear is of the wind blowing in your face.The serenity, peace, anonymity, situated at an average elevation of 3500 meter sandwiched between the great Himalayan divide and the trans Himalayan range, Spiti Valley has got it all.
Spiti valley is part of Lahaul-Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, it can be approached by two roads, one is the age of Indo-Tibetan highway from Shimla via Kinnaur which remains open for almost year around and second one is the new road going over mighty passes, Rohtang Pass and Kunzum Pass, which gets closed in winter for around 7-8 months due to heavy snowfall.
Age old monasteries, sleepy villages, dusty roads, kind people, a sense of adventure and anonymity can be said as some the points which attractions of Spiti valley. Be it the mighty Kunzum La or driving along with Sutluj and Spiti river or the 13th century Ki gompa where the sunsets lighting the whole mountain range in a golden glow or the 800 years old mummy of a monk at Giu monastery or the golden monastery of Lalung village or gigantic Buddha statue or fossil park of Langza or the highest motorable village of Komic and stuffed snow leopard at Komic monastery or the highest post office of world at Hikkim or the snow leopard areas of Kibber and Chicham or the ancient capital of Spiti, Dhankar or Pin valley home to several wildlife or the Tabo monastery or be it the crown jewel of Spiti, the crescent, moon shaped lake, Chandartaal at 4300m is one of the highest lakes of India and without any doubt the prettiest one. But this is not all just about the Spiti valley, the Indo-Tibetan highway passing through upper Shimla and Kinnaur takes us through some of the best kept secrets of Himalaya.
The expedition to Spiti valley starts from the colonial summer capital of India, Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. The most famous hill station of India, Shimla is bustling all year around with tourist from not only India but from all over the world. The journey starts around 7 in the morning from Shimla, take an overnight journey from Delhi or Chandigarh to reach Shimla early morning, or one can come day earlier and spend a day taking in the beautiful views of Shimla.
Hitting the road from Shimla we pass through the famous towns of Kufri, Rampur Bushehar, Sarahan. From Rampur we take the road going with Sutluj river till we reach Karcham, from here we take the road going right toward Sangla. Following the Bhabha river from Karcham we take on the road going to Sangla. The entire Bhabha valley is very beautiful. On the right, we can see the mountains which work as a natural border between Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. On left, we can soak in the mesmerizing views of Kinnaur Kailash range. We take a night halt in Sangla.
Drive from Karcham to Sangla on the rock-cut road is one of the major adventures of the trip. From Sangla, we head to Chitkul, the famous last village of India in Bhabha valley. Nestled deep in the valley Chitkul, once a sleepy village where only the shepherds of the region ventured with their flocks of sheep and goats, is now a major tourist destination. Today we take a night halt at Sangla.
From Sangla, we trace back the road till the Karcham and get back on the highway for Reckong Peo where we take a detour going toward Kalpa. From Reckong Peo, we get views of majestic Kinnaur Kailash peak. After having our intake at Reckong Peo we continue further up to Spillow, which is the last point where we can connect to the outer world and the virtual world. Further ahead from Spillow only BSNL network works that to only calling no internet accessibility. Soaking in the views of snow laden mountains and sleepy villages hanging from the mountain cliffs, we make our way to Nako. On the way to Nako we pass by the confluence of Satluj and Spit rivers, the road is going on left of Spiti River.
Nako is a small village nestled on mountain face, overlooking half frozen Spiti river. Nako is famous for its lake and the 360degree view of surrounding mountain ranges. We take shelter in a homestay for the night.
Today we will be covering a lot of ground so we will be starting early in the morning, it is advisable that we get going before 8 in morning. From Nako we start by crossing the famed Malling Nallah to get down till Chango village which famous for the Chango Apples. From Chango we move ahead to Sumdo which marks the end of Kinnaur, there is army check post at Sumdo. A little ahead of Sumdo there is a diversion going right, which will take us to Giu monastery which is home to a 800 old mummy of a monk. Another half an hour of drive and we are at Tabo where we take a halt and pay a visit to 1000year old monastery and meditation caves.
From Tabo, we move ahead toward Dhankhar. Dhankar was once capital of Spiti region, age-old monastery of Dhankhar is perched right at the top of a cliff which looks like almost hanging from there. The view of the confluence of Spiti and Pin river from the top of Dhankhar is something to behold.
Getting down from Dhankhar we take the bridge going left over the Spiti river for Pin valley to visit the Pin Valley National Park which is home to some magnificent flora and fauna. After spending quality time observing the beauty of Pin valley we head to Kaza where we will be taking a night halt at Homestay.
After covering a lot of ground yesterday, today we take it easy and just go for 6 villages of Langza, Komic and Hikkim & ki , kibber chicham. The uphill zigzag drive starts right out of Kaza, the first village we will be visiting is Langza which is famous for the gigantic Buddha statue and the fossil park. Next one is the Komic village which is the highest motorable village of Asia. The komic monastery is home to a stuffed snow leopard. From Komic we get down to Hikkim, home to the highest post office of the world.
All three villages offer a great panoramic view of Himalayan ranges. It is a true delight for the man with the lens, heaven for shutterbugs.then we will head towards ki monastery. The iconic monastery of Ki looks really beautiful and is a true delight to a camera lens. Pay a visit to the monastery and engulf with monks residing there for some words of wisdom. The road going up from Ki monastery will take us to Kibber village which is famous for being very frequented by snow leopards. The region surrounding the Kibber village is a perfect place to sight the elusive cat in winters. 3 kilometers out of Kibber is a suspension bridge which connects Chicham village to Kibber, the bridge is said to be the highest suspension bridge of Asia. From Chicham we make our way back to kaza.
With leisure, we get out of our comfy beds and finish our breakfast before heading towards Lalung village which is just 1-hour drive from Kaza. Lalung is quite famous for Lalung monastery which is also called Sarkhang or golden temple, was one of the earliest monasteries founded in Spiti after covering Lalung we will head towards Pin Valley to experience most beautiful landscape & experience pin valley’s local people how do they survive when valley is not connected with Kaza for 4 months in a year due to heavy snow on the way to Mudh which is the last village of pin valley. We will also be visiting Kungri monastery and then we will be coming back to Kaza by the evening.
Today we will be driving on the most adventurous or one can say the most treacherous road of the entire journey. The road from Kaza to Chandar Taal passing through Rangrik, Hansa and Losar, takes us to mighty Kunzum La. Getting from Kunzum La on another side of the pass is more difficult than getting up. There are a lot of water crossing and the whole road from Batal is almost dirt track.
But once we see the crescent moon shaped lake, all the pain of driving on bad road vanishes in a second. Both sunset and sunrise from Chandar Taal lake are out of the world beautiful. Because of the fragile ecosystem of region, it is banned to camp right beside the lake, all the camps are 3 km from the lake, which is night halt.
After having our breakfast at the campsite we make our way toward Manali passing through famous Chacha-Chachi Dhaba at Batal, treacherous Chhota Dara and Chhatru.
Today we will cross the famous Rohtang pass on our way to Manali. We will be reaching Manali early in the evening.
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I went to Harishchandragad trek last weekend with these guys...It was an amazing trek...very well arranged...had so much fun...Thank you so much guys...!
One of my favorite treks till date...☺️
Special thanks to our trek leads @Ritu and @Rohit
It was my first ever trip and camping.... And people at Pune Travel Club made it really special for me. Considering the heavy rush for New Years I understand a few things might go here and there but overall I just loved it. Camping at Kashid... Beachside Campfire... Next day Beautiful scenary at the beach and water sports.... It was a special start of the New Year for me. Thanks a lot Pune Travel Club team.
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It was my first ever trekking experience and PTC made it worthwhile. Enjoyed a lot....Went with a very nice group from Pune to Bhandardara Fireflies festival..... Shraddha our co-ordinator was very humble, soft spoken and an outstanding person who guided us throughout the trekking....I would definitely love to attend more events.....
• Accommodation at all hotels/home-stays as per the itinerary on sharing basis.
• Breakfast and dinner at all hotels & homestays.
• Comfortable tempo traveler/sumo for all days as per the itinerary.
• Reliable & experienced English-speaking local driver and guide with great knowledge of the area and the terrain.
• All Applicable Monastery /Museum Fees
• Lunch on all days.
• Any cost arising out of unforeseen circumstances including medical emergencies and acts of God. Extra days stay/food at any place during the tour because of bad weather or road blocking due to snow.
• Anything that is not mentioned in inclusions.
THINGS TO CARRY
• Back Pack/Rucksack- 50 to 60 liters. • Head torch or Torch- 1 no. • Water bottle 1L- 2 nos. • Trekking/Hiking boots/Floaters/Sleepers- 1 pair • Sports/ trekking socks – 4 pair • Woolen socks - 1 pair • Down jacket– 1nos. • Pants 2 -3 nos • T-shirts – 3 nos • Fleece – 1 no • Gloves-1 Nos • Sun cap- 1 Nos • Woolen Cab – 1 no • Warmer/bandana – 1 no • Quick Dry Napkin/Towel – 1 no • Fleece Jacket – 1 no • Undergarments – 3 to 4 pairs • Thermal inner wear – 2 Pair • Toiletries • Toilet paper ( Wet Tissues) Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Facewash, Petroleum jelly, Cold creams & Sunscreen SPF 40 etc First Aid Medical Kit : • Medication for common disorders i.e.cold, fever, diarrhea, vomits etc, Crepe bandage, Stick • Band-aid, ORS, glucose, instant pain relief spray i.e Volini, Relisprey, etc and personal medication if any)
HOW TO REACH
There are several bus services including Himachal Road Transport Corporation buses as well as private operators connecting Shimla to the major cities in North India. Chandigarh is at a distance of 117 kilometres, Manali at 260 kilometres and Delhi at 343 kilometres. If you are going from Delhi, you can take an overnight air-conditioned luxury bus from ISBT Kashmiri Gate. Buses go in the morning or later at night - timings can vary from season to season, you can check them online before making a reservation.