Lying north of the Pir Panjal ranges, Lahaul and Spiti are bordered on the north-west by Ladakh and on the east by Tibet. Lahaul and Spiti were two different places before being merged into one but they are quite different in character to each other. While both valleys receive little rainfall, Lahaul is the greener of the two and very fertile. Lahaul is a high plateau surrounded by uniform mountains and huge glaciers. Spiti valley is a cold desert composed of austere barren mountains and deep gorges formed by the fierce Spiti River. Consequently, Lahaul is much more developed and has a greater number of mountain villages. The lofty mountains of Lahaul and Spiti are beautiful in an awe-inspiring way.
Famous for its splendid views and untouched natural beauty, Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan culture, Spiti is a destination for trekkers, hikers. The Lahaul and Spiti district comprises of both the valleys which are separated by the Kunzum pass. One of the most unexplored destinations in Himachal Pradesh, Spiti or Spiti valley is located at a very high altitude in the eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. This region is a desert mountain valley and is known for its beautiful monasteries and untouched natural beauty. The terrain of Spiti Valley is highly difficult and the entire region becomes completely isolated during the winters.
Lahaul is greener and a touch more developed than Ladakh or Spiti, but many travellers whistle straight through on the road between Manali and Leh, missing most of what Lahaul has to offer. The capital, Keylong, is an easy stop and you can also detour to mountain villages and medieval monasteries that remain blissfully untouched by mass tourism.
Best Time to Visit Lahaul and Spiti:
The region experiences summer season during the months of May to October and the temperature ranges from 0 to 15 degrees Celsius. This is definitely the best time to visit Spiti. Winters are very cold and you should probably avoid travelling in the winter months. The road connectivity is also unreliable during the winters with Manali-Kaza highway being cut-off.
Summer (March – June): This is the best time for a visit to this destination, with the temperatures rarely dropping below 15 degrees Celsius. The days are hot but pleasant if you’re visiting in the months of May & June. This is the best time for trekkers and campers, and hence also becomes the peak season for travelling to Kaza.
Monsoon (July – September): Although the monsoon season receives moderate to heavy rainfall, this is not exactly the best time to visit Spiti. Frequent downpours and dangerous landslides make the destination inaccessible for the tourists.
Winter (October – February): Beginning from October, the winter season is the least advisable time for a visit to Lahaul and Spiti, owing to extremely chilly temperature and inhospitable roads. The roads connecting Spiti Valley to the rest of India are blocked most of the time in this season.
Hence, the best time to visit Lahaul & Spiti is during the summers i.e. from mid May to mid October; since the district is snowbound area and Lahaul valley remain isolated from rest of the world from October-May due to closure of the Rohtang Pass.
How to Reach Lahaul & Spiti?
- By Air-
Take a flight to Bhuntar airport and from there on the 40kms to Manali and then 115kms through the Rohtang pass to Keylong. The road journey will take 6 hours and can be done by jeep or bus.
- By Rail-
Jogindernagar is the nearest railhead. Chandigarh and Shimla are also two broad gauge railheads for Lahaul and Spiti. Taxi and bus services are available at these stations to take you directly to Lahaul and Spiti.
- By Bus-
Lahaul – Spiti is connected by road to the rest of Himachal Pradesh and other adjoining states from May till November. Buses from Manali trundle across the Rohtang Pass from late June till end of October to enter Lahaul and connect to Keylong and Darcha. Lahaul is on the route to Leh along the National Highway from Manali.
Buses, rented cars and jeeps connect Spiti to Manali across the Kunzum La pass. Alternatively, there is a road connection that goes north from Shimla through the district of Kinnaur up into the Spiti valley.
Getting Around Lahaul & Spiti-
State roadways and tourist buses ply between most of the important destinations in Lahaul – Spiti. Jeeps and private cars can also be hired but some of the remote hamlets and monasteries are connected by small tracks that can mostly be traversed on foot. Treks around this region can be quite rough, with steep climbs across stark mountain faces with very few provision stores or rest houses along the way. If you plan to do long walks make sure you are carrying enough water and provisions.
Must see attractions in Lahaul and Spiti-
- Dhankar Gompa
Dhankar Gompa is a village and also a Gompa, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in India. It is situated at an elevation of 3,894 metres in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar Village, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo.
- Kibber Village
Kibber also Kyibar is a village high in the Spiti Valley in the Himalayas at 4270 metres or 14,200 ft in Himachal Pradesh in northern India. It contains a monastery and the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Gue Mummy
The mummy, identified as that of monk Sangha Tenzin, was found inside a tomb at Gue village in the cold and remote Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh has become one of the iconic tourist places in the region.
Hikkim is a village in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh state in northern India. It is near to the Kaza location. It is one of the highest year-round inhabited locations in India, with residences from 4330 to 4400 meters.
- Komic Monastery
Komic monastery, also known as Tangyud monastery is the situated at Komic village which is also the world’s highest village accessible by road.