India is a country of diverse terrains with its vast land area along with the wide melange of regional climate. Ranging from the snow-capped mountains in the north to being surrounded by water on its three sides, to the hot deserts in the north-western region to the wetlands in the east and what not! Amidst this diversity of India, lies the mountain desert quietly in the North Eastern section of the state Himachal Pradesh.
In the month of June of the year 2018, while I was sitting in my job desk typing frantically, that was when my phone received a text from my partner which asked what I wanted for my birthday. It dawned on me that my age calendar was going to hit the jubilee year and I thought ‘what the hell! I cannot just let my 25th year go in waste partying like every other birthday, and it got to be special.’ So, I took to my research and asked around a little suggestion from everyone. And I found my destination, to escape the scorching heat of Delhi, ‘Lahaul and Spiti valley it is!’
So, I finalised the itinerary and decided how my birthday week is going to be a fabulous one! It was in the second week of July when my partner and I boarded the bus from Kashmere Gate bus terminal and travelled overnight to Manali. Next day, upon reaching we were transferred to the hotel, and we stayed in Manali for the night. Next morning, we boarded our car, which was an SUV. Here is a quick fact, it is advisable to travel in an SUV while going to Lahaul and Spiti, as low floor cars have a very high chance of getting damaged due to the rocky terrains.
Our first stop was the Rohtang Pass, which lies at the height of 3,978 meters above sea level. From there, we descended to the valley of Lahaul and Spiti in the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh in India. There begins the journey of my life which captivated my heart. I was taken aback by the cold arid mountain deserts with zero population on our way to Kaza, the subdivisional headquarters of the Lahaul and Spiti Valley. We stopped on our way in two pit stops called Chatru and Lohsar. These two places are small and temporary tent set-ups that provide food and public toilets on the way. Upon crossing the Kunzum Pass, which is a mountain pass that stands at 4,590 metres and connects the Lahaul Valley with the Kullu Valley, we were greeted by the view of the CB glaciers and I couldn’t thank myself enough for choosing this lesser visited area of Himachal Pradesh as my birthday destination over anything else in India.
We reached Kaza after a tedious and rocky drive of 11 hours. We checked into our hotel in the little town of Kaza and decided to rest for the night. Read on to find out the top places to visit in Lahaul Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.
Top places to visit in Lahaul and Spiti
This crescent moon-like shape lake is the prime attraction of the valley. You can sit near the lake, watch the crystal clear water and contemplate its hypnotising beauty for hours.
Pin Valley National Park
This is the only green area in this cold mountain desert is this national park that is surrounded by alpine trees and deodar trees. It also has snow leopards, Siberian ibex, snowcocks and chukar partridges.
Komik (the highest village in India)
Known as the world’s highest village, Komik is situated 18,000 feet above sea level and hosts a population of 114 capita.
Hikkim (the highest post office in the world)
At an elevation of 4,400 meters, in a quaint little village called Hikkim, lies the world’s highest post office. Make sure to post your loved ones’ postcards from there!
Key Monastery (Kye Gompa)
This 11th-century monastery lies overlooking the stunning river of Spiti and is one of the most popular gompas or Buddha monastery of this valley.
Chicham Bridge (Asia’s highest bridge)
This spectacular bridge is a recent addition to this valley that connects Kibber village with Chicham village and is a nightmare for people with vertigo. It is undoubtedly Asia’s highest bridge (4037 meters), but, some sources refer to it as the highest bridge in the world.
Dhankar Gompa (Dhankar Village)
In the village of Dhankar lies this 12th-century marvel that overlooks the harsh and cold mountains. It is located between Kaza and Tabo, well preserved and can be reached by motorable roads.
If you are visiting this valley, make sure to visit the village of Tabo, which is situated 48 kilometres away from Kaza, and hosts the beautiful Tabo monastery.
This stunning village hosts a 1000-year-old Buddha statue that overlooks the entire valley. This amazing village is also famous for its precious fossils and attracts a lot of archaeologists and historians every year.
Best time to visit Lahaul Spiti, Himachal Pradesh
The best time to visit the marvellous village of Lahaul Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, in India, is from June to September.
Things to remember before heading out to Lahaul and Spiti Valley
If you are not used to high altitudes, then carry medicines for altitude sickness.
As mentioned above, high floored cars and vehicles are recommended due to the rough and rocky terrains.
You can get the ethnic taste of this valley by staying in the homestays and help the local residents.
The only Indian SIM card that works in this valley is BSNL.
Undoubtedly, the valley of Lahaul and Spiti is mesmerising in its own way. It was one of the best experience of my life. When your phone just becomes a paperweight, away from the city hustles and your workplace tensions, this valley can be your best point of solace. The vast and unending mountains along with the beautiful river remind you how small your problems are. The ever-smiling villagers will remind you why it is so easy to find peace and happiness. I did not get a cake for myself on my birthday, but, I found happiness in this valley, and this is why Lahaul and Spiti Valley has a huge part of my soul.