Spiti Valley India

The Planning

Spiti Valley India Photo Story


The Itinerary

12 Day Spiti Valley India Itinerary


The Cast – A Guitarist, A Doctor, and a Writer

Travelers to Spiti Valley India

Travel Gear for Spiti Valley India


The Journey

Day 1 – Gandhidham to Ludhiana (Or so we thought)

We got on the train from Gandhidham to Ludhiana

Indian Railways
Sunset from the Train

At around 9 pm plans changed. We had a fully reserved train ticket to Ludhiana. But, the train was too slow. I found a train in the evening from Ajmer to Chandigarh which would get us to Chandigarh the morning after, our goal. And, it would also give us half a day to explore Ajmer and Pushkar. We got off at Ajmer at 6 am. My eyes fell on the train board – Ahmedabad-Chandigarh express was running late, approaching the platform in 5 minutes. If we could get on this we could reach Chandigarh by 5 pm, well ahead of our goal. We dashed to get tickets. We got General Class tickets and ran across four platforms just in time to make it.


Day 2 – A Journey in General Class, like a billion other Indians

Forget seats, you are lucky to find enough space for your bum, that too next to the bathroom. Traveling in General Class takes you right into the melee of true India. Highly recommend it. A quintessential Indian experience.

Indian Railways General Class

General Class

We reached Chandigarh on time. Rented a Mahindra Scorpio from ZoomCar right outside the train station and drove towards Shimla. Reached Shimla around 11 pm. Stocked up on supplies on the way.


Day 3 – Shimla to Reckong Peo (350 km, 8 hours)

The road to Reckong Peo passes through prime Kinnaur Valley.

Here at the edge of humanity, noble spirits turn alchemists to conjure triple-halo mountains, unicorns drinking at glacial waterfalls, mermaids swimming in the Satluj, snow fairies dancing amongst the flurries, fruits of passion growing on sub-earthly slopes and dragons breathing smiles

Kinnaur Valley, Himachal Pradesh

Kinnaur Valley Scenic Roads

We reached Reckong Peo at sunset. We dined at Muskan Chinese Food Corner, a family run restaurant that was a popular choice of Imtiaz Ali and Randeep Hooda during the shoot of Highway around these parts. And, yes Reckong Peo is the location where Alia Bhatt gets off the bus in the movie. After dining on the ‘best’ vegetarian thukpa you could imagine, we went in search of the white mythical spirit of the mountains – Chang, a popular rice wine only available in these neck of woods. Its legality is controversial therefore tread carefully and ask locals to get your hands on a bottle of this snow-white spirit.

Thukpa and Chang in Reckong Peo


Day 4 – Reckong Peo to Pooh, a Date with the Deity

To see God himself in Kalpa, you must pass through what is well called ‘The Suicide Road’

Suicide Road, Kalpa

“Adjust the zoom of your binoculars, you won’t believe your eyes since you’ve never seen God before. The Shivlinga of Lord Shiva meditating atop Mount Kinnaur Kailash, his winter home. The peak of Kinnaur Kailash is in the shape of a Shivalinga. Shivalinga belonging to Nataraja, the lord of the dances, performs the dance of the colors. It changes colors as the earth rotates on its axis. The Shivalinga attains the following colors – orange, yellow, saffron, crimson and hue – at different times of the day”

Kinnaur Kailash, Kinnaur Valley in Himachal Pradesh Kinnaur Kailash, Kinnaur Valley

Kinnaur Kailash, Kalpa

A month ago at the doctor’s clinic, the Guitarist had asked: “Will we get to see snow?”.

Locals told us the road from Reckong Peo to Pooh is the deadliest road. So much so to raise our spirits. Onwards we go. Doc’s friend had told him after seeing his Instagram activity “The kind of sins you and the writer have committed, you not gonna survive these deadly roads. Fortunately, you have the Guitarist’s good deeds to protect you. Don’t use them all up”

At the crossroads after the bridge some 5 km before Pooh, sunset-lit mountain awaited us. The doctor said “Looking at these mountains you know what I feel like, I feel that someone up there is watching us and he wants us to complete our odyssey”

Pooh Sunset

Reckong Peo to Pooh

We survived the road and spent the night in Pooh weighing our sins and his deeds. So far so good.


Day 5 – Pooh to Tabo, Maybe

The Guitarist woke us all up to capture the first rays of sun falling on snow-capped peaks. We waited, waited, and guessed the direction of the rising sun to no avail. Frustrated, we went to bed after giving him an earful.

Sunrise in Pooh

The hotel owner told us the road from Nako to Tabo is closed due to landslide at Maling Nala. We decided to continue until the road disappears.

The first rays of the rising sun kissed the zenith of the snowy peak as the melting snowy teardrops of the peak wiped the grey grief of the mountain

Mt Phawarganj, Spiti Valley India

Unison of rivers Spiti and Sutlej Sangam of rivers Spiti and Sutlej

Crossing the bridge is a metaphorically crossing into a different world of ancient monasteries, different language, unique culture, simple lifestyle, indigenous cuisine, and most notably stark barren landscape, a far shout from the green valleys of Kinnaur.

Welcome to Spiti Valley!

On reaching Nako village, the Doctor asked: “Where is the Nako Monastery?”

The Guitarist spotted a bat: “Hold on! Where can we play cricket?”

The kids pointed to the helipad

Cricket at Nako Helipad

The Guitarist – “At such heights these people travel miles and miles to play cricket and bija aapda dukkar jeva friends badhu hoy chata pan na ave ramva” (and yet our f*ck*ng friends despite having everything don’t come to play)

Nako Cricket Team

After the game of cricket we went to the Nako Monastery. To our surprise and pleasure, the full moon celebration was going on. The villagers were chanting, meditating, and celebrating the full moon. We chatted with the locals in the monastery. They offered us lunch and we promptly agreed. I shared some of the snacks from back home. They absolutely loved it. A good idea to carry snacks from your town for the folks up there.

Nako Monastery

Nako Lake

After dinner and a walk in Nako Village, we drove on. We stopped at the ear of the landslide. Another 2 hours and Maling Nala would open. The Guitarist went to observe the work going on. The Doc and I took a nap. When we woke up he was still not back. “Has he joined the army in clearing the landslide?” we said in unison.

He returned with a gleeful smile on his face, “I found three of them”. The smile transpired onto us. Stay tuned till The End.

Nako to Tabo

We reached Tabo around dinner time.


Day 6 – Tabo Monastery

We visited the oldest Buddhist monastery in India – Tabo Monastery.

“It has seen a thousand flurries of snow, withstood a hundred thousand storms, it has sent a million messages of Buddha through the winds blowing south and east, a billion bells have been rung to send ‘Om mani padme hum’ into the valley, the prayer wheels have been spun countless times with timeless wishes. Yet, the monastery stands in simple mortar and cement telling the tales of a thousand years of the golden past and blessing the travelers who take the road less traveled to the parts clad in barren beauty”

Tabo Monastery


Day 7 – Kaza, Key Monastery, and Apocalypse

“It is here more than anywhere else, I felt like I was on the path that Buddha mentioned 2,500 years ago “I teach suffering, its origin, cessation, and path. That’s all I teach”

View from Key Monastery

Spiti

After Key Monastery, we drove to Komic – the highest motorable village in Asia. On the top of the mountain, we encountered a snowstorm. Our car got stuck in the mud. What followed is a story to be told over camp-fires and spirits. It stretched us to our physical and mental limits as we know it. Probably the worst 24 hours my traveling life. We survived the trial by fire, thanks to the friendly locals of Langza village. Maybe doc’s friend was right, our sins caught up to us.


Day 8 – The Way Back

On our way back we visited Dhankar Monastery.

Dhankar Monastery Dhankar Monastery

 

Unison of Pin and Spiti rivers Sangam of Pin and Spiti rivers

On our way back we stopped by to pick them who the Guitarist had encountered at Maling Nala


Happy Endings

Kaza to Shimla


Memories of the Time Together

The Guitarist – “Going from traveling life to normal life is like going from 5,000 meters to sea-level”

Spiti Valley India Photos
Spiti Valley Photos

Spiti Valley Photos


12 Day Spiti Valley India Itinerary