If you are planning a trip to the north, chances are that you will visit Manali or Shimla. And then maybe, if you have a few extra days on hand, you might spend a day trip in Spiti Valley or Lahaul.
While most travellers and locals alike go to Spiti Valley or Lahaul as a day trip from Manali, the truth is that there’s so much more to explore in these two valleys than just a day trip. If you’re planning to explore Lahaul and Spiti Valley on your next trip to northern India, here’s what you should know:
Lahaul is not just an extension of Manali and Shimla!
When people think of visiting the north of India, they automatically plan their itinerary around Manali/Shimla – after all, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. But ever since the Atal Tunnel was constructed some years ago, it became much easier for travellers from Delhi and other cities further south to access the region.
Before the Atal Tunnel was built, Lahaul was only accessible by a treacherous route over the Rohtang Pass. During the harsh winters, the pass was often closed, and if you wanted to go to Lahaul from Manali, you’d have to wait until summer. The Atal Tunnel, which opened in 2003, makes Lahaul much more accessible. That said, it’s still not exactly a cheap place to visit, and it does require a fair bit of planning.
How to reach
The Lahaul Valley is situated in the Himalayas, and is located in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. The valley is located at a height of over 3000 meters above sea level. The surrounding mountains are covered in snow all through the year, and it’s only ever warm in the valley due to the presence of hot springs.
The Valley is accessible via road and air. There are several ways to reach Lahaul by road. The roads are open for traffic from April to November, but traveling to Lahaul by road during winters is not advisable. You can also reach this place by train, as there are two railway stations—Manali and Koksar—in the vicinity of Lahaul that help you get around easily.
The journey from Manali to Leh via Koksar takes about three days and involves crossing several high-altitude passes like Rohtang Pass which lies at an altitude of 3979 meters above sea level.
The following are some places to visit in Lahaul:
This beautiful valley is situated in the north-east corner of Himachal Pradesh. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains on all sides and has outstanding natural beauty. It is also home to many Buddhist monasteries, which were built by Tibetan monks over centuries ago. Here, you can find numerous streams and rivers flowing through the valleys along with lush green pastures covered with colorful flowers and plants. The best time to visit this place is from March till June when the weather remains pleasant throughout the day with temperatures ranging between 4°C and 20°C.
Tinan Valley is located about 30 km from Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti district. It is one of the most popular trekking routes in Lahaul and Spiti district. It takes about 5 hours to reach Tinan village from Keylong and a further 2 hours to reach Chilling (3160m). The trek from Chilling to Tinan takes another 2 hours. The return journey from Tinan to Chilling can be completed in about 3-4 hours.
It is located in Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh. It is one of the most beautiful places in India. The valley is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and has a lot of glaciers. The people who live here are called the Changpa tribe and they live a very simple life.
Patan valley is famous for its apple orchards and waterfalls. There are many places to visit in Patan valley such as Gaddi Village, Chanderkhani Pass, Kussum Sar Lake and many more.
Gaddi Village is one of the oldest villages of Himachal Pradesh and it was established by Gaddis or Gujjars who came from Kashmir during 12th century A.D. This village is situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet above sea level, on Kullu Manali National Highway near Bara Bhangal village. The place has an old fort built by Raja Gulab Singh in 1846 A.D known as “Gulabgarh Fort” which is now converted into a hotel with all modern facilities provided within it.
The valleys of Lahaul and Spiti are situated in the extreme north of Himachal Pradesh. These two adjoining areas are cut off from the rest of India by the highest mountain ranges in the world, namely, the Karakoram group. This area is often referred to as “Little Tibet” of India because the culture and way of life here resembles much like those in Tibet . It is a very barren and cold land where farmers till little patches of land on steep terraces dug into embankments.