Lahul & Spiti
These are 2 valleys in the northern part of Himachal Pradesh.
Most tourists are unaware of these areas as 6 months of the year, the roads are closed and
the climb is difficult. If one plans to visit Kulu- Manali in summer, one must include
Lahul & Spiti in their itinerary. If these 2 valleys are excluded it's like returning
from the gates of heaven. Only a person who has visited here will be able to define its
To go to Spiti, one has to wait till the end of June.
Till then, all the roads are covered in snow. It is virtually impossible for tourists to
visit here at any other times except June and October.
If you are planning a long holiday in these mountains, first
reach Kulu, visit around there and then at the end of June or beginning of July, once you
get news of Lahul Spiti roads becoming operational again, plan a trip. The rainfall in
these valleys is almost nil. So till August the roads are absolutely clear. This is
because the Peerpanjal Mountains obstruct the rain clouds from coming over. Hence, when on
one hand it is biting cold, on the other hand, when the sun shows itself, it is scorching
hot. The weather is very unpredictable here. Hence, one has to be totally prepared
with summer and winter clothes and particularly a windcheater. The best way to get
there is from Manali. Buses ply from there.
After a 2-3 hour drive, one reach Mari. Mari is the main
gateway for the Rohatang Pass, which is in the PeerPanjal Mountain. This Pass is
about 2.5 kms long and when one crosses it, the Lahul & Spiti valleys start. Once upon
a time the road to Rohatang Pass was extremely difficult, but now a concrete road has been
laid. Apart from travelling by bus, one can also go in a jeep, on a pony, or by foot. The
ride on a pony is the best, as this is not tiring and the sights are not missed.
Crossing the pass is also an experience in itself. The
feeling is one of crossing the world on a bridge. This pass is 3048 mts above sea level.
In some parts it is 4000 mts above sea level.
Once the pass is crossed, one reaches 2 roads. One goes east
to Spiti valley and one northwest to Lahul. You can take either one. The main place
in Lahul is Kyelang and the main spot in Spiti is Dankhar - both have buses from here.
If you take the Kyelang route, the bus travels along the
river Chandra. On one side is the river, on the other, mountains reaching
the skies. Kyelang is
the heart of Lahul . It is also the main district of Lahul & Spiti. Making it your
central point, you can visit the areas close by.
If you take the bus to Dankhar you spend almost the whole day
travelling. Another important town in Spiti is Kaja. Spiti in comparison to Lahul has more
In Lahul & Spiti are found many Buddhist
society of Lahul & Spiti lives under difficult circumstances but their lives are very
enthusiastic. People use the wild yak for its milk, meat, etc.
Kaja is 3600
mts above sea level. 12 kms from here is Kee Gopa which is 4116 mts above sea level
and 8 kms from Kee is Kibar at 4205 mts. At this height there is hardly any vegetation.
Since one finds snow even in summer, one can go close to a
glacier and even touch it, The road journey from Shimla to Spiti via Kinnaur takes 9
hours. A tourist can break journey at Tapri (in Kinnaur), Kadcham or Sangla and
leave the next day. If possible, Sangla can be covered.
From Tapri or Sangla to Kaja, it takes a whole day. Most of the
way, the road runs along the River Sutlej. Before Kaja, falls the Nako Lake and a Buddhist
monastery, then the famous Tabo Monastery. In 1996, the Monastery in Tabo celebrated its
1000 years on an International level.
Kaja is a place worth breaking journey at. This is one of the
important towns of Lahul & Spiti. More facilities are available here than other towns.
Small necessities can be bought here.
After visiting Kaja, Kibar and Kee you can see the many
monasteries, glaciers and vast meadows of the Pin Valley. From there you move to other
parts of the Lahul Spiti valley. You enter Lahul as you cross the Kunjum Pass. This Pass
is 4551 mts above the sea level.
main town Lahul is at 3350 mts above sea level. Before you reach here, you cross Grampo,
Khoksar and Gondla. From Kyelang, visit Gurughantal and Kardang. The terraced fields,
crops and other vegetation takes on a different look here.
If you are able to walk up to the Chandratal
lake, do not miss it. There is a trek route for it. The Baralacha Pass is
75 kms from Kyelang, 4890 mts above sea level. Here you meet the crossroads leading to
Janskar, Laddakh, Spiti and Lahul.
Kyelang is 122 kms from Manali.
Other places that can be visited from Keylang are Darcha, Leh and Tandi. Beyond Darcha
there is no road, so the bus goes only upto here. After this you have to trek. You reach
Leh trekking northward. Tandi is on the Manali-Kyelang road.
is a temple made of wood. It has many intricate carvings From Tandi one can see many
mountains with their high peaks. The locals revere these peaks because they believe that
their God, Gyepang, lives there.
Lahul & Spiti are connected to each other but the
distance is vast. For miles there are no houses. Villages are sparsely populated.
In the Spiti Valley flows River
Spiti. Lahul is the old
capital of Spiti. Here the monastery boasts of carvings of Tibetan and Indian culture.
Lahul valley is close to Manali & Spiti is closer to
Kinnaur. Most houses here are big with 2 storeys. The ground floor houses the animals and
the first floor is used for living. Lahul & Spiti valley are considered one of the
rough tourist spots, but as awareness spreads, the tourist traffic here is increasing.
June to October.
Kyelang has a tourist bungalow built by the State Tourism Department. There are other
guest houses also. Information and reservations can be made from Kulu-Manali. Camping gear
can also be carried if one is adventurous enough. Kaja also has accommodation.
Tibetan and Buddhist handicrafts are available.
H.P Tourism has some packages tours, which take you from Shimla to Kinnaur, Kaja, Kyelang,
Rohtang and Manali. Another route is from Chandigarh. More information can be gathered in
Rail: Upto Shimla and then by bus.
In this remote place, every nook and corner has an eatery-Kyelang, Rohtang,
Udaypur, Darcha, Sarchu, Kaja, Tabo, Pooh, Tapri which serve North Indian Cuisine.