Spiti Circuit – Shimla to Manali via Spiti or Vice versa
Spiti valley has a terrain that is breathtakingly beautiful. It is located in the North-Eastern part of Himachal Pradesh, India. It comprises of year old Buddhist Monasteries, and some of the highest villages of Asia. Spiti circuit trip includes starting the travel either from Shimla going to Spiti and ending the trip at Manali or Starting at Manali going to Spiti and ending the trip at Shimla. During the Spiti circuit one gets to visit the pristine Himalayan lake of Chandratal, cross the Kunzum Pass, check out the Asia’s highest bridge and also spend some time in one of the world’s highest villages.
The entire Spiti circuit will be of around 8-10 days, varying on the basis of the stops made at various places.
Best season for Spiti Circuit:
June to September is the best season to do the Spiti circuit trip, as the roads will be in better condition. One can either drive in their own vehicle, or take buses and taxis from various points, the fares and places of which will be elaborated in the Itinerary.
Shimla to Manali is the most preferred route as it’s more comfortable and passes through low altitude places first while Manali to Shimla route starts from high altitude places, and might make one suffer from sickness. People taking a flight to Chandigarh or Delhi and then heading to Himachal are at a greater risk. Proper acclimatization is the key. Although, if one is in for an adventure and quicker route they should opt for Manali to Shimla route.
Spiti Circuit itinerary:
Day 01: Shimla to Sarahan (163.1 km; 6-7 hrs)
One needs to start early on day 1 as there is a long journey ahead. It is advisable to have breakfast before starting the journey. One can visit Hatu peak on the way. After some 2-3 hours, one can view Sutlej River which will be on the right side of the road throughout the day’s journey. A stop at Rampur for lunch would be a good decision, after lunch continue towards Jeori, which is a small town lying 16 Kms before Sarahan. At Sarahan, one can visit Bhimkali temple and Bird sanctuary. Overnight stay will be in Sarahan, there are many in budget hotels available.
Bus route:Those who opt to travel in public bus (₹ 120-160), one should take the bus from Shimla that goes to either of the following place – Kaza, Sangla, Karcham or Reckong Peo. They all travel -through Jeori, and once in Jeori one can hail a shared jeep or taxi (₹ 30-50) that will go to Sarahan.
Day 02: Sarahan to Chitkul (107 Km; 6-7 hrs)
On day 2, one has to travel back to Jeori to start the journey. The roads are in pretty bad condition, so one has to be prepared for that. Driving towards Karcham, one will come across the dam built over Sutlej. The sound of the rushing water will be like music to ears. Leave the highway on reaching Karcham and take the diversion towards Sangla. One should stop at Sangla for lunch, and can also visit the famous Nages temple and Kamru fort. It is a straight road from Sangla to Chitkul, and once at Chitkul one will have to spend a night here. There are several hotels available in Chitkul which are also in budget (₹ 700-1000). One can also view the Baspa River from Chitkul.
Bus route: There’s a bus (₹ 100-120) coming from Shimla that goes to Sangla Valley, one can catch this bus from Jeori at noon. From Sangla, one can hire a shared taxi (₹70-100) to Chitkul.
Day 03: Chitkul to Kalpa (35 km; 3-4 hrs)
To reach Kalpa, which is the day three’s destination one has to go all the way back to the highway on Karcham and start moving towards Powari. From Powari, turn away from the highway on the road that goes uphill to Reckong peo, and finally to Kalpa. At Kalpa, one can visit the famous Kinner Kailash, and walk through the roads of apple orchards. Even at Kalpa, there are in budget hotels (₹ 500-800) to stay overnight.
Bus route: One has to go back to Sangla from Chitkul in a shared taxi (₹ 50), and then take a bus from Sangla to Reckong Peo (₹ 100) in the noon. Take a shared taxi from Reckong Peo to Kalpa (₹50). It is advisable to stay back at Reckong peo if you want to take up the journey the very next day again.
Day 04: Kalpa to Nako (100 km; 6-7 hrs)
The road conditions will be a bit difficult to ride on until Pooh. One has to again travel back to Powari to start their journey towards Nako. It is very important to note that there will no petrol pump till Kaza so it’s better to fill up at Reckong peo. Driving on NH1 towards pooh, one will be required to register themselves at the check post. From there one will come across kazigs on the way to Nako. Overnight stay will be at Nako, there are fewer hotels but they’re all budget friendly. There is also a PWD Guest house in Nako and it’ll cost ₹1000 for overnight stay there. There’s a small man-made lake in Nako that one can visit, or one can opt to trek in nearby villages for a more beautiful view of the village.
Bus route: An early morning bus (₹ 250) from Reckong Peo goes straight to Nako by noon. There’s another bus at 1 PM from Reckong peo to Nako.
Day 05: Nako to Kaza (112 km; 6-7 hrs)
On this day, one will get to visit a lot of famous places. Start early from Nako towards Tabo. Near Tabo towards a village called Gue, a place is famous as the location of a 650 year old Mummy and it’s not something anyone should miss. At Tabo, one can visit a 1000 year old Tabo monastery. (If one opts to stay at Tabo there are hotels and Monastery’s guest house).
Dhankar Lake and two of Dhankar Village’s famous Monasteries will be your next stop. Driving straight from Tabo, one will arrive at Dhankar village. A small trek is required to reach the village, and then visit its famous places.From Dhankar one will go straight to Kaza. Kaza is the headquarters of the spiti valley. The places to visit in Kaza are – Ki Monastery, Tangyud Monastery, Langza Village (Known for the presence of Marine fossils and the Pin Valley National park), kibber village and Gette village. Finding accommodation in Kaza will be very easy.
Bus route: One can easily find a bus to Kaza from Nako. It will cost around ₹200.
Day 06: Kaza to Tashigong, Langza, kaumik – Kaza
The entire day will be spent on visiting the nearby Villages and places of Kaza. One will come back to their hotels so there is no need to carry a lot of things. This is the main part of trip where one will get to see so many beautiful places. One will visit Langza, Tashigong, kaumik, Gette and Kibber village. One can have their food at Langza, it comprises of some good restaurants. After a trip to all these villages, one goes back to their hotel in Kaza.
Bus route: The buses to various villages are not available every day, and it is not possible to cover all the villages in one day through bus. It is advisable to hire a private taxi for this day.
Day 07: Kaza to Chandrataal (51 Km; 4-5 hrs)
The road to ChandrataalLake are not so good, it’s a dirt trail from a point. It is advised to fill up the petrol from Kaza as there will be no more petrol Pump until Manali. One has to take the road to Kunzum Pass. As the descent from the top towards Batal starts, there will be a diversion that’ll lead one to Chandrataal. It is a breath-taking beauty, Chandrataal Lake. One can’t miss visiting this place once in Spiti. There are also Campsites (₹1500) available for accommodation as one has to spend the night here.
Bus route: From Kaza there is a direct bus (₹200-250) to Manali, it arrives every morning at 7 AM and one has to board this and get down at Chandrataal diversion. (Take a note of the time here as you’ll have to reach the place at the same time next day). From this point one can either hitchhike to the lake or walk or take a life, for 14 Kms.
Day 08: Chandrataal to Manali (48.5 km; 7-8 hrs)
This is the last day of the trip which will end in Manali. From Chandrataal one has to go back to Kunzum pass and drives towards Batal. Beware, the roads are in very bad condition from here on. The turn towards Rohtang pass has to be taken from Gramphoo, and then drive directly to Manali.
Bus Route: One has to again go back to Kunzum pass from Chandrataal to board a bus. One has to make sure to be present at the same spot and same time they got down a day before. This bus will directly go to Manali.
Manali to Shimla via Spiti
For completing the Spiti circuit, one can also opt to start from Manali and end at Shimla. One has to follow the above mentioned Itinerary the other way round to travel from Manali.
Day 01: Manali-Rohtang Pass- Gramphoo- Batal- Chandrataal
It is advised to start the day early as the journey is long and roads are bad. One will travel through Rohtang pass, and must stop there and enjoy its scenic beauty. One will reach Chandrataal by evening and stay there overnight.
Day 02:Chandrataal to Kaza (51 Km; 4-5 hrs)
Day 03:Kaza to Tashigong, Langza, kaumik – Kaza
Day 04: Kaza to Nako (112 km; 6-7 hrs)
Day 05:Nako to Kalpa(100 km; 6-7 hrs)
Day 06:Kalpa to Chitkul (35 km; 3-4 hrs)
Day 07:Chitkul to Sarahan (107 Km; 6-7 hrs)
Day 08:Sarahan to Shimla (163.1 km; 6-7 hrs)
Cellular network during Spiti Circuit
The mobile networks that work in Spiti valley are BSNL, Airtel and Vodafone but only up to a point. They’ll work till Sangla (If travelling from Shimla). While Airtel and Vodafone will lose network once in Kaza, BSNL will have a moderate signal from Kaza till Langza. In Langza it only works sometimes, other mobile networks are not dependable in this region.