Take the high Road to Lahaul Spiti – 10 Days
This Jeep safari along the ancient Trans – Himalayan trade to obscure village and Monasteries is an exciting new adventure holiday that packs so much into two weeks. Start your journey from Delhi via Shimla, to a beautiful Sangla valley in the region known as Kinnaur. There is a startling change in the landscape as you enter the district of Spiti Valley. Spending one each night at Tabo, Kaza (head quarter of Spiti valley) & Losar include side trips to Dankar Gompa and the highest village of Kibber (4200 m). The people of Spiti valley have close affinities with Zanskar and Ladakh who are dedicated to the pre-Buddhist Bon religion. Driving out of the Spiti valley enter into Ladakh region.
Planning a trip
It is best to go in an anticlockwise direction as the ascent is gradual and you reduce chances of High Altitude Sickness in Kaza. If you reach Kaza via Manali the gain in height is sudden, from 2050m to 3600m, crossing Kunzum La in between, 4551m. On the other hand, if you stop at Narkanda (2708m), Kalpa (2960m) and Tabo (3050m) the ascent is gradual and you acclimatise well.
Day 01: Delhi – Narkanda (415 km/ 10 hrs Approx)
Leave early in the morning to take care of unforeseen delays. Stop for a breakfast at Karnal though there are lot of options on this highway.
Between Shimla and Narkanda there is no good place to eat, so have your lunch in Shimla. Do not take the Shimla Bypass as it is a bit longer, instead head for “Lakkar Bazaar” in Shimla and you will find the road to Narkanda. 2 ½ hrs ahead is Narkanda with Hotel Hatu. Narkanda is a beautiful mountain top with lots of people coming to spend a few relaxed days there. The town itself is nondescript. If you have time and energy you could drive up to Hatu Peak 8kms away. Overnight in Narkanda.
Day 02: Narkanda – Sangla (159 km/ 5 hrs)
Drive along the spectacular Hindustan Tibet road which s carved in a rock and goes along the wild Sutlej River. A view of Kinner – Kailash Peak is splendid from Sangla. Visit remote villages of Rackcham and Chitkul. On arrival in Sangla check in and overnight at camp.
Sangla Valley: This valley starts 57 kms. Short of Kalpa which has been named after a beautiful & populous village Sangla. Sangla is situated on the right bank of Baspa river 17 kms from Karcham. Journey from Karcham onwards is enjoyable and adventurous throughout the valley. The natural scenery all around and the eternal snow view are picturesque and charming. It is also known as Baspa Valley since Baspa River flows through this area. This is the most charming valley in the entire District of Kinnaur. A temple dedicated to Nages god is worth a visit & other places are Sapni, Rackchham, Kilba, Kamru Fort which can also be visited. There are post offices, banks, rest houses for the convenience of the visitors.
Day 03: Sangla – Kalpa (53 km/ 2 hrs)
Morning visit Kamru village and fort. Later travel by surface from Sangla to Kalpa located in backdrop of Kinner Kailash mountain range. Evening free to explore Kalpa village.
Kalpa (2759 m): Beyond Recong Peo (14 kms. from Powari) on the link road, is the main village of the District – Kalpa. Across the river, facing Kalpa is the majesty of the Kinner Kailash range. This is a spectacular sight early in the morning as the rising sun touches the snowy peaks with crimson and gold light.
Day 04: Kalpa – Tabo (176 km/ 8 hrs)
Travel by surface from Kalpa to Tabo enroute visiting Nako village beautifully located on banks of a small lake. On arrival in Tabo check in and overnight at guest house.
Tabo Monastery : It is another big gompa for serving the population of eastern side. It belongs to the tenth century and is located 50 kms from Kaza. It is a famous gompa next to Tholing Gompa in Tibet. It has about 60 Lamas and a large collection of Scriptures, wall paintings etc. Murals of this gompa have a great similarity to that of the Ajanta paintings.
Day 05: Tabo – Kaza (50 km/1.5 hrs)
Morning visit Tabo monastery. Later travel to Kaza enroute visiting Lalung and Dhankar Gompa. On arrival in Kaza check in at guest house.
Dhankar Monastery : It is situated about 25 KM. East of Kaza and serves eastern part of central Spiti. Dhankar is a big village and erstwhile capital of Spiti Kingdom. On top of a hill there is a fort which uses to be the prison in olden times. The Monastery has about 100 Lamas and is in position of Budhist scriptures in Bhoti language. Principal figure is a Statue of “Vairochana” (Dhayan Budha) consisting of 4 complete figures seated back to back. It has relics in the shape of paintings and sculptures.
Day 06: Kaza
Morning visit the Ki monastery, 12 kms from Kaza. This centuries old gompa is a labyrinth of rooms and corridors – and at one time also acted as a fort. It houses valuable Thangkas and offers a panoramic view of the area. Also visit the small gompa at Kibber, 9 kms further ahead. Kibber at 4205 m/13,792 ft has the distinction of being the highest permanently inhabited village of the region.
Ki Monastery : It is situated 12 kms north of Kaza and serves the western population of Spiti. It is the oldest and biggest monastery of the valley and located at (4116 m) above Ki village. It houses beautiful scriptures and paintings of Budha and other goddesses. Lamas practice dance, sing and play on pipes and horns. Many Lamas get religious training here. It has murals and books of high aesthetic value.
Kibber (4205 m): It is locally known as Khyipur, one of the highest villages in the world at an altitude of 4205 m above sea level in a narrow valley surrounded by mountains from all sides. Rest Houses available for the visitors. Gette village, at a short distance away from Kaza, is the highest in the world with a height of 4270 m.
Day 7: Kaza – Manali – Total Distance: 208kms; driving time: 9hrs.
The most adventurous part of the trip is the drive from Kaza to Manali. This is where you really bite the bullet. Driving until Losar 60kms away is fun, good straight road with great scenery. Losar at has a police check post, where you enter the details of your vehicle. Have a cup of tea there as the fun is about to start. Buy a prayer flag at the shop in Losar to place at the Gompa at Kunzum La.
Kaza to Manali Road
The road disappears and the track climbs steeply to reach Kunzum La Pass in an hour’s time. At 4551meters the pass offers spectacular view of the Bara Shigri Glacier in the range opposite to Kunzum La.
Kunzum La Pass
After offering prayers at the Gompa there, the road descends as steeply to reach Batal at the base of the mountain. The track to Chandra Tal branches off from here. Due to bad weather and bad condition of the track, we decided to skip our trip to the lake, which is 6kms from Batal. The track then continues forwards with all the excitement and heart throbbing action to reach Chotta Dara, 16kms away, which just has a small PWD Guest house, reaching Chhatru after another 13kms which is the tea point of the route. After Chhatru the “road” again climbs crossing numerous glaciers and springs flowing on the track, to reach Gramphoo, covering 17kms in one hour!Thankfully after Gramphoo you meet the metalled road coming from Leh and then cross Rohtang Pass to reach Manali 50kms away in about 1 1/2hrs.
Day 8: Manali – Tirthan Valley (3 Hrs)
After a leisurely breakfast we drive to Tirthan Valley and check into the Himalayan Trout House.
The Himalayan Trout House (Famous for fly fishing)
The Tirthan Valley in Kullu District is one of the most beautiful places in Himachal. Located within the Great Himalayan National Park , the `pucca’ road winds its way lazily along the river through forests and past fields and tiny hamlets with quaint names like Chalogi, Mungla, Nagini, Ghushaini……. numerous paths lead off the road to the snow fed river itself as it gushes its way over the rocks to drop into pools and spread itself out over flats where every stone is visible through its crystal clear waters, home to the wilder brown trout and its cousin, the rainbow trout.
Day 09 – The Himalayan Trout House
Day Free to explore the Tirthan Valley.
Day 10 – Tirthan – Delhi (14 Hrs) – Total Distance: 413kms; driving time: 12hrs.
This is the final and longest leg of the trip, but because of good roads it will be fairly comfortable.
- Road map
- Hats, which won’t blow off in wind
- first aid kit
- lots of warm clothes (we had sleet falling on our car in July)
- Munchies to eat and drink and a more than adequate stock of Medicines .
- TWO spare tyres
- foot pump
- every conceivable spare
- Cloth for cleaning and spare headlight bulbs.