A trip to Spiti Valley will take you down the road less travelled. Literally. Aptly known as ‘Little Tibet’, the first thought that strikes you about Spiti is that it is not for the average tourist. The land of surrealism promises amazing adventures — but only for those who have an adventurous streak in them. After all, “the traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”
A centre of culture importance for Buddhists, Spiti Valley has some of the oldest and scenic monasteries in the world. The most prominent ones among the many monasteries here are Key Monastery and Tabo Monastery, the latter being a favorite of the Dalai Lama.
Overlooking the Spiti River at an altitude of 4112 m, Key Monastery is one of the biggest gompas known for the stunning Buddha shrine and large collection of ancient books, manuscripts, and murals. With its fort like structure and strong Tibetan theme, Key monastery is sure to leave each one of its visitor mesmerised.
The Tabo monastery is also a must visit. One of the oldest monasteries in Spiti, its majestic wall paintings, multiple stucco sculptures of Bodhisattvas and other works connected to the Buddha are worth noting. This is also the only monastery that allows visitors to stay on the premises, giving them a chance to experience monastery life first-hand.
After the monasteries, the next must-visit spot The moment you reach Chandratal Lake, you’ll be rendered speechless and just continue silently soak in the soul-stirring peace and calm. Its enchanting location makes it a photographer’s paradise, and even if you aren’t into snapping pictures, you can choose to gaze at the crystal blue waters surrounded by lush greenery and snow-capped mountains as you trek past it or set up camp on its banks.
Inspite of its harsh weather, there’s absolutely no dearth of flora and fauna out here, especially at the Pin Valley National Park. The park is home to many enchanting and beautiful species of plants and animals, making it a rich epicenter of eco-diversity. In this sprawling reserve, one can spot snow leopards, snow cocks, chukar partridges, and Siberian ibex in their natural glory for you to cherish. You’ll also get a chance to spot the elusive snow leopard by opting for one of the many treks and hikes established for this purpose.
Besides these though, there are some other sights that are unique to Spiti Valley, and that you won’t get to see elsewhere!
The world’s highest post office and petrol pump.
Living at 4000 metres is difficult enough, but even more so when you’re entrusted with the task of making sure that the post is safely delivered into the right hands, it becomes slightly more complicated. That’s why, having the world’s highest post office (at Hikkim) and the world’s highest petrol pump (at Kaza) are definitely worthwhile travel achievements to boast about!
The mummy of Giu.
Spiti is full of legends, such as the Mummy of Giu. It is said that during a drought in Tibet, several lamas were mummified and then destroyed during the Chinese occupation of Tibet. However, in the earthquake of 1975, one of these mummies washed up in the Spiti River and was rescued by the Indian government. It was housed in Giu, where during a digging accident, a spade hit the mummy’s head and it started to bleed! You can still see hair growing on the mummy’s head, and spooky as it might sound, it is one of those things you have to see to believe.
The village of the meditating nuns.
Fukchung village is a collection of stone caves, where nuns from the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism go for long-term retreats. They typically spend 3 years in a stone cave, meditating from morning to night, and not seeing or speaking to a human soul. Quite an intense experience walking through these caves and imagining the kind of devotion these nuns have.
Stargazing 15,000 feet above sea level.
The altitude of the inhabited villages in Spiti Valley ranges from 10,000-15,500 feet above sea level and at this high altitude, stargazing is an absolute delight. That’s why, the villages of Tabo, Dhankar, Kibber, Komik and Lassar are the ideal places to peacefully sit and look up to spot a shooting star or two, and a part of the Milky Way.
ADDRESS: C1306/7, Kailas Business Park, Veer Savarkar Marg, Park Site, Vikhroli (W), Mumbai 400079