Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, North India (with Map & Photos)

The Spiti Valley is one of those unique places on earth that have retained their original appearance due to their sparse population and inaccessibility. Translated from Sanskrit, "spiti" is a "precious place". This area is a mountain valley, practically devoid of vegetation and located at an altitude of 4500m above sea level. Buddhist monasteries are scattered throughout the valley. No wonder it is called "Indian Tibet". Another name for the valley is "Little Tibet".

The life of the local population was greatly influenced by Tibetan customs and traditions, and today the main population of the Spiti Valley is Tibetans. Unlike the Tibetans, who remained in the Tibetan lands occupied by the Chinese, this people, due to the fact that the Spiti Valley is part of India, fully preserved their culture and traditions. continuing to stay at home. Once a trade route to Lhasa passed through this valley. Buddhist monks in those days traveled freely to all monasteries located along the Spiti, Bias, Parbati, Sutlezh and Chandra rivers.

Spiti Valley
Spiti Valley

Buddhism first appeared in Spiti in the 8th century along with the great Padmasambhava, an Indian preacher who walked through this valley to Tibet. Buddhism has survived here to this day in its original form. Therefore, pilgrims and tourists from all over the world come here to touch it, as well as to see the ancient monasteries and gompa of this region, which are considered one of the most ancient shrines of Buddhism that have survived to this day. The Buddhist tradition of this area is similar to the Bon Tibetan tradition. A thousand years ago in Tibet, Buddhism was persecuted by a Tibetan ruler, and here, in the Spiti Valley, the Great Teacher, Rinchen Zampo, lived and preached. He is also known as a translator of Buddhist texts into Tibetan. The great teacher was the founder of many monasteries in Spiti.

Spiti, like Lahol and Zanskar, starting from the 10th century, for several centuries were part of the Western Tibetan kingdom of Guge. Later, the valley became the property of the kings of Ladakh and became part of their kingdom. In 1847, Spiti was captured by the Kashmir princes, and two years later it passed into the possession of British India. But this region has always maintained close ties with Tibet until the latter was occupied by the Chinese in 1949. The Tibetan government in exile, headquartered in Daramsala, continues to this day to support Buddhist monasteries in Spiti.

Spiti Valley
Spiti Valley

The valley has a shape elongated from northwest to southeast. In the northwest, it is blocked by the Kunzum La pass (4550 m). Not far from the border with Chinese Tibet, the Spiti River flows through the valley, which merges with the Sutlej River. Both sides of the valley are bordered by ridges with an average height of 5000m, and along the banks of Spiti, local residents have set up fields. They lie in green patches on stony hills, and white adobe huts are scattered along the mountain slopes. Barley and peas are mainly grown here, which are considered the most delicious in India.

Blessed silence, sky and mountains - this is what the Spiti Valley welcomes its guests. The best time to visit it is July – September. The rest of the time, the valley is practically cut off from the world and, starting from mid-October, is practically covered with snow. The same goes for the road to the Kullu Valley. The road to the Kinnor Valley is officially open all year round, but in fact, even in summer it is often not passable for transport, despite the fact that there is no monsoon season in the area. Summer temperatures in the Spiti Valley - is not more than 15 to C above zero, and winter frosts characteristic temperature to -40 of C.

Spiti Valley
Spiti Valley

These places resemble Ladakh or Tibet, but they are much more accessible to the common traveler. It can be reached in just ten hours by bus to Kazu from Manali.

The Spiti Valley is part of an interesting tourist route that lies around eastern Himachal Pradesh and connects the Kullu Valley, Kinnor Valley and Spiti Valley into a single ring. Some seasoned tourists prefer to travel this route on motorbikes, which can be rented in Manali, as well as mountain bikes, which are better to bring with you. You can also take a trip on a workers 'and peasants' bus. This will become a kind of introduction to the local population. In order to get from the Spiti Valley to the Kinnor Valley, you will need to obtain a special permit (border pass). It can be arranged in Rekong Pio, Kaz, or Shimla. By the way, until 1994, access to the valley was completely closed for foreign tourists.

Spiti Valley
Spiti Valley

The regional center of the valley is Kaza. Here is a monastery of the Sakya tradition. On the way to Kazu, it is necessary to cross two high-mountain passes - Rotang (3900 m above sea level) and Kunzum (4500 m above sea level). Rotang Pass is a sacred place. It is believed that purification with cosmic energies takes place here. The name "Kunzum" in translation sounds like "meeting place for ibeks". The mountain (or alpine) goat, Ibex, is quite rare today, and according to Tibetan beliefs, a meeting with an Ibex is a harbinger of great luck in life for a traveler. Right there on the pass there is a Buddhist stupa, the oldest chorten.

The Spiti Valley is home to the highest mountain settlement in the world with a road and electricity connected to it. This is the village of Kibber. Here in 1983 a Lama from Tabo Serkang Rinpoche Monastery died. He was cremated on the site, which today is surrounded by a fence. During the cremation, a spring suddenly gushed out of stones. It still works today. Around this spring, a wonderful garden is laid out, which seems like a miracle in such a barren area. A little below there is a small temple. Pilgrims from the entire valley gather to this sacred place.

Spiti Valley Map