Exploring Cold Desert Spiti

Spiti Valley is a delicate mountainous cold desert in the lap of the mighty Himalayan ranges in Himachal Pradesh spread out with sparkling streams, windswept landscapes, majestic glaciers, deep ravines, verdurous green patches, impressive monasteries, and old-world villages. Hovering beautifully at an altitude of 12,500 feet above sea level, it is an exotic summer destination. The unspoiled landscapes of Spiti and the splendid monasteries breathing Buddhist chanting attract tourists and trekkers from across the world and offer an inspirational perspective to life.

A hiker walks down to Key Monastery in Spiti

Vikramjeet Singh Thakur, owner of a travel agency in Manali says for a memorable trip to Spiti, the best places to visit are Chandra Taal lake, Tabo, Dhankar and Key Monasteries. He adds that  Kye Gompa is dramatically  perched on a hillock in the Kaza region, overlooking the Spiti river. It is one of the most famous and largest monastery in Spiti and also one of the most popular tourist attractions of the valley, featuring a magnificent Lord Buddha shrine and a treasure trove of ancient Tibetan literature, paintings, and murals.

Lake Chandra Taal

Chandra Taal Lake is the most captivating lake in Spiti Valley,  says Thakur and its glistening blue waters are swaddled with vast lush green meadows. The lake looks spectacular in the morning hours when the brilliant sun rays bathe the lake in colorful hues of red, orange, blue, and green, making it a sight to behold. The lake is in the shape of a semi-circle, giving it the name which means moon lake. The picturesque lake is a haven for nature lovers, trekkers, and photography enthusiasts. The lake draws its water from the gurgling Baralacha glaciers flanked by trails ideal for trekking, and mountain biking.

Tabo Monastery

Vikram adds that Tabo monastery is one of the oldest and most ancient monasteries in this part of the country. Renowned as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas’, it features some valuable manuscripts, sculptures, exquisite stuccos, frescos, murals, and wall paintings that replicate the Ajanta caves.

Kunzum Pass

Not the least, he says, the Kunzum pass serves as the gateway from Kullu and Lahaul to Spiti Valley. One can trek to the pass from Chandra Taal Lake. This is one of the most popular attractions here. Once up, one can seek blessings at the Kunzum Devi temple which is believed to protect travelers from any mishaps on the wind swept roads of Spiti.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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5 Comments

  1. says: Vikram s uppal

    Komic is the highest village and near by it the highest post office in the world at village Hikim

  2. says: vistet

    The Manali agent here skips past the reason why the road is not ( should not ) be open up to the lake : the fragile ecology is why it’s designated as a wild life sanctuary, and Ramsar site.

    ( Hikkim as the worlds highest PO is a myth – for example Nakchu @ 4526 enroute to Lhasa has a PO , ATMs , railway station and a airport under construction . With a population of around 30000 in the mining town La Rinconada there should be one there as well.. )

  3. says: Manu Virmani

    Chandra Tal is named so because it is on the River Chandra which goes down to the confluence with the Bhaga to form the Chandrabhaga that flows down the Lahaul valley and eventually joins the Indus.

  4. says: Divya

    Do visit kibber village and rangrik in kaza and do not skip visiting the chicham bridge the view the cold breeze even in month of may gives goosebumps. Its amazing!!!! No one every could imagine cold deserts can also be heaven. Maximum road is metalled road till kaza via shimla only few patches near malang nalah and near tabo rest the drive is like being in and witnessing the glaciers and the cold desert for mud skking.

  5. says: R. Das

    If possible, include a day in your itinerary to explore the Pin Valley National Park. The landscape is breathtaking. This is a remote place and hence very few accommodations are available.

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