How to reach Spiti Valley from Delhi and things to do around Kinnaur/Spiti in Himachal Pradesh





So today I am going to share about the trip I recently took and without any planning. During this week long journey through different parts of Shimla, Kinnaur and Spiti, I learned a lot and made best of the trip with 4 buddies. Most of the credit for this awesome trip to Spiti goes to our navigator Varuna Chaudhary and Indian Travel Photographer, Jitendra Singh who drove us throughout the trip. This post shares some of the high & low points from our trip, along with learnings and recommendations about planning your travel, stay, food & other things. 



Basically this trip started with no plan at all. I got a week off from office and wanted to go to Spiti. Initially idea was to go solo and travel in HRTC buses. When I made my mind and decided dates, I started asking friends if anybody had time and interested in joining. I talked to Varun and he seemed interested along with Jitendra Singh. 3 of us chatted for some time on wattsapp and dates were decided. We thought of travelling in our own vehicle. It was Santro. Yes, heard it right - we travelled to Spiti in Santro and have interesting tails to share about the driving experience in Kinnaur & Spiti. 



I landed in Shimla after comfortable volvo journey from Delhi. HRTC Volvo buses for Shimla start from Himachal Bhawan at Mandi House as well as Kashmiri Gate ISBT. Mandi house is near and convenient place for me to board the bus. Plan was to start the next journey at around 8am from Shimla and I reached around 6:30am. But then plan got changed as the car demanded some servicing before our Spiti Trip. During the day, Raman also planned to join us. Finally we started from Shimla at 3pm and idea was to reach Jeori for night stay. 




As we were heading towards Narkanda from Shimla, we noticed beautifully setting sun on our left. It was a good opportunity to take a break. After taking few shots, we headed towards Narkanda and on the way planned to take tea break. It was a spot where we could also grab fresh cherries. Theog was the place where we got our fuel tank full. For dinner, we stopped at Bithal. There is a dhaba across the road which leads to Kotgarh and the food was good. 

One of the friends helped us booking a guest-house in Jeori. It was not a great place to stay but we managed. After this experience, I realised that booking govt guest-houses can be risky affair as it's very unpredictable and difficult to guess the state of rooms and other facilities. I shall be sharing a separate post about budget options to stay in Himachal Pradesh and what to avoid.






On Day-2, we started early from Jeori. We had our breakfast in Jeori market and started the drive towards Kinnaur and our next destination was Nako Village. Apart from tea breaks, we took a longer pause at Tapri for lunch and meeting few friends. Sam joined us at Tapri. There is a petrol pump near Shonthong, so it was a time to get some fuel for next journey. We took various stops before hitting Nako village in Kinnaur as this whole stretch offers unique views of rocky mountains.

Pangi Nala was one of the most interesting places we saw on our way. It's a huge water-stream with huge pressure. During this journey we saw various waterfalls from distance and noticed lot of marks of waterfalls, which were dry. I am sure that whole terrain must be looking awesome in monsoons with plenty of waterfalls all around, like what you see around Lonavala

As we kept moving, we came across more interesting views and also crossed the place where Setluj & Spiti rivers meet. Khab is the place I guess. From here on, there is a steep climb in a narrow road which has rocky mountains on the right and deep valley on the left. By looking at the rocks it seemed that river used to flow much higher that the current state. After 30 minutes of drive on zig-zag road you reach the top from where you see snow covered peaks on one side and golden mountains on the other side because of sunset. The views were spectacular hereon. This was the moment when we again felt that we are in another world now. Shimla, Kinnaur and Spiti have completely different terrains and have their own charm. After driving for an hour we hit the Nako Village. 


As told earlier, we hadn't done any bookings but finding a homestay in Nako is not an issue. There are few guest-houses and homestays at the beginning of the village and we could find one there at a very reasonable cost. 





We spent second night in one of the guests houses at Nako Village. We booked 2 rooms and it costed us 800 Rs. Food provided in the guest house was good. Total cost for 5 of us including dinner & breakfast came out as 2200 Rs. It was quite reasonable. 

Early in the morning we trekked towards the hill from where you can see Nako lake with village in the background and snow covered peaks making a beautiful canvas. Sun had not come out yet. So after clicking few shots, we were waiting for sun to lit the space for us. Varun was already set with his camera for time-lapse as clouds were beautifully hovering over these orange hills. This video will soon be shared on Travellingcamera.com


After taking few shots of the lake, mountains, the huge prayer wheel we headed downwards to explore Nako village which has some beautiful houses and a monastery. After breakfast, we started our next journey. Idea was to reach Kaza and have our night stay there.



This morning we had to cross Malling Nala, which is considered as one of the dangerous roads in Spiti. Landslide at this place is very unpredictable so it's extremely important to be careful and a keep an eye on mountains surrounding this road. During this trip we drove through National Highway 22, 5 and 505. This was the day when we stopped at different places for clicking photographs. 

Our first main destination for the day was Gue Monastery. It's 9km away from main highway and beautiful drive. You cross beautiful Gue Village before hitting the Monastery and one should stop at the village to check if the room with mummy is open. If its not open, you need to take a villager with you to open the room, see the mummy and drop him back in the village. It's not a big hassle as village is on the way and it's important that you remmeber to see the famous mummy in Gue Monsatery. 


We took our lunch break at Hurling. There is a small market at Hurling with 2 places to eat. Throughout we got basic but tasty food. Local Rajmah (Kidney Beans), Kadhi and rice are common options you get in most of the dhabas in Spiti. Mix-veg or seasonal vegetables would also be available along with tawa roti.



After lunch at Hurling, we started our next Journey and took a halt at Tabo to see one of the oldest Monastery in this region. Tabo is beautifully located in the valley surruonded by beautiful mountains. There is Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya of Spiti here and campus is very beautiful. 




Here onwards, we took plenty of breaks as landscapes were changing quite fast and light was favorable. Clouds were making interesting shadow patterns on these hills. The road connecting Tabo with Kaza keeps along the Spiti river. By night we reached Kaza by crossing various smaller roads which connect with other interesting places like Dhankar, Lalung, Kibri, Hikkim, Khar, Demul & Dogsa.

Again we had to find a place to stay and Kaza has plenty of otpions. Hotels, Guest houses and home stays. Luckily we came across a home stay although food was not available on that particular day because of some reason. Which was not an issue as Kaza market was at walkable distance and we found an interesting Punjabi dhaba for dinner and breakfast. Kaza is little expensive in comparison to other places in Spiti but still it's reasonable. This was one of the most relaxed stay during our trip as none of us woke us early in the morning to walk around and shoot.  Here again we got a god deal. We got 2 rooms for 800 rs and pretty nice services. Place was neat and comfortable.





After Breakfast in Kaza Market we headed towards Kibber village which is one of the beautiful places in Spiti and it's consider very special when we talk about it's connectivity and height. You cross through Key Monastery when visiting Kibber and this road again offers great views of snow capped mountains on the left with Spiti river flowing in the foreground. The road on other side of the river leads towards Manali, but we didn't have right vehicle to cross those passes to reach Manali. Some of us were tempted to try it, but it was not a wise thing to do. Hence we didn't really moved that side. 

While coming back from Kibber, we stopped at Key Monastery for some time and then drove down. Now we had 2 choices, either drive to Kaza and then drive up towards Dhankar or skip Kaza and go towards Dhankar via Langza, Hikkim and Komic. 




Again it was a steep climb for Langza and we came across some interesting places where car was doing zig-zag between mountains. After a while we were on top of the hill and driving in plains. For a change, there was land on both sides of the road and then we see huge statue of Buddha. 

Langza is unique location in Spiti and this road leads to Komic and then can connect back to main highway. There is a caution - don't go on this road with smaller vehicle as roads are slushy because of melting snow and can be risky. You hardly see other cars coming in this direction so getting help is also an issue. Our tire got punctured on this road, which has high probability. We were lucky that we reach the highway safely as we didn't have other spare tire. Keeping 2 spare tires can be a good strategy when travelling in Spiti as tire fixing shops are located at distance. After Langza we visited Komic Monastery and had our lunch here. 




I am skipping the tire episode which happened on this road. It was scary and none of us were speaking for 25 kilometers and had a cheer on face when we hit better road. Instead of reaching nako back, we planned to stay in Dhankar only. Everybody was exhausted. We reached Dhankar at around 5pm and planned to take a pause here. Dhankar is located at a height facing snow capped mountain across the river. It's little more sandy and dry region. Water is an issue in this part of Spiti. 

We found a cozy home-stay at Dhankar which was damn cheap. We paid 1100 rs for stay, dinner and breakfast. And food served was awesome. The toilet in this homestay was local and we shall be writing about it separately. Initially I was hesitant because of it but thought of giving it a try and it worked well :)

We shall share details about the home-stays & guest-houses we stayed in along with appropriate inputs in terms of cleanliness, food and other services. 




Varun, Raman & Sam did morning trek to Dhankar Lake and they came back with brilliant photographs. I chose not to go. After awesome breakfast at our homestay we started the next journey and first target was to find a tyre shop to get things fixed before moving ahead. We kept taking breaks on the way and found a shop near Tabo. got things fixed. Today's lunch break point was Nako and the guy offered us some local apples. These apples were awesome. They have some local way to keep these fruits fresh and it's not cold-store kind of setup.



Plan for the day was to hit Kalpa from where Kinner Kailash looks awesome. We were taking plenty of breaks on the way and hence always we used to hit the day's destination in dark. We hit Reckong Peo by 7pm, got some stuff packed and headed towards Kalpa. Sam had arranged a hotel stay here. Kalpa is tourist heavy place, so even average hotels change a lot. And here it was interesting to see that almost every hotel had used Bengali language in their menus. It seemed that lot Bengali tourists visit Kalpa. 




Next morning we walked around the Kalpa Hills overlooking Kinner Kailash peaks. After getting ready, we headed towards Suicide point in Roghi Village. What a sight it is. Deep valley overlooking snow peaked mountains. We had some good time their and shot few photographs/videos. 

After that we headed towards Kalpa village to walk around the palace, temple, school and small street shops. We had wonderful time walking around and tasting momos. This is the place where highway movie is shot. We came across the stairs where Alia bhat was chasing Ranbir huda. After a walk around the place, we started our drive back to Shimla. 




We took multiple halts on our way. For lunch we stopped at a place call Badhal which is just before Jeori. The place popularly known as Basmati Dhaba is usually a very populated place and you would find lot of vehicles parked outside it. They serve thali at 50 rs and the food is amazing. I highly recommend this place if you planning to drive on this road. They serve rice, chapati, rajmah, chana, & kadhi. After good lunch we started our next journey and there was thunderstorm after Rampur. As we headed forward, there was heavy rains near Narkandha. The visibility was extremely low due to dense fog. 




Near Narkanda you get fresh cherry which typically costs you 120-150 rs box, and you get fresh/bigger cherries in comparison to what you get in cities like Delhi. I try my best but don't find that size of cherries in normal shops in Delhi and the smaller size is sold 250+ Rs. Anyways, buying stuff from local markets is fun and I got 6 boxes for home. We were 5 and bought around 12 boxes, so negotiated well.  




By night we reached Shimla and that was conclusion of our brilliant trip to Spiti. Everyone headed to their home and I spent that night at my friends place in Shimla. 



This trip will remain in the memory as special expedition with like minded folks - Photographers and Instagrammers who are known in their own spaces. This is just a sneak peak and we shall be sharing detailed blog-posts about Spiti trip and the various places we visited. So keep a watch here for detailed posts. 





If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling - 

1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins. 
2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin. 
3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem. 4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits. 
5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite

and here is some more stuff for you...


Above photograph was clicked at breakfast time in Nako.
Above photographer shows Indian Travel Photographer reading Vibha's book - 'Know your Worth'
Dhankar Lake by Varun Chaudhary
Huge statue of Buddha at Lagza surrounded by snow covered mountains in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.




Comments

rupam sarma said…
Loved the post. Thanks for sharing Amazing pics , insta videos.
Sapna said…
Wow.... awesome pictures.
Very detailed post with superb visuals.
divsi said…
Stunning pics. Kinnaur is my happy place. The place is heaven! Did not go beyond Kinnaur. Spiti will happen soon:)