The Spiti and Lahaul valley is a cold desert mountain valley in the Himalayan Range under the Spiti and Lahaul district of Himachal Pradesh. Lahaul and Spiti district is the 12th district of the Himachal Pradesh and popular for trekking and biking. This region is spread over a geographical area of 13,835 sq. km that is 24.85% of the total area of Himachal Pradesh
Kunzum La is the gateway of Spiti valley from Lahaul while one can reach Spiti from Manali via Rohtang Pass. Spiti valley is more about barren lands or mountains and difficult roads. The average elevation of this valley is about 14010 ft. A little greenery is present in this area due to the Spiti river that further joins the Sutlej river. On the other hand, Lahaul has very harsh weather conditions that do not let much of vegetations to propagate.
The Spiti and Lahaul Valley is Trekker’s Delight and adventurous to bikers. The best time to visit this region is from May till October end. Below are the top 14 Places to Visit in Lahaul and Spiti Valley, to enjoy the most out of your trip to Spiti and Lahaul Valley:
1. Spiti Valley:
Situated at an altitude of 12500 ft in the northeastern part of Himalaya, Spiti valley is one of the coldest desert mountain valleys in India. Spiti, which means “The Middle Land” is the gateway to Ladakh from Himachal. The Spiti valley is the land between the Tibet Autonomous Region and Ladakh of India, hence one can clearly observe a mixed culture in this region.
The entire Spiti valley is covered with landscapes of various ranges and motorable passes. Also, Spiti is known for its scenic mountains, enchanting landscapes, glaciers and pristine environment. Pin-Parvati, Parang-La, and Pin-Bhaba are some of the popular trails.
The Spiti valley is surrounded by mountains and glaciers, villages perched on mountain crests, quaint old monasteries, crystal clear rivers and streams, prayer flags fluttering in the wind and monks. They all represent a small flavor of Tibetan culture in Spiti. A homestay at the village is preferred over hotels or lodges to enjoy the hospitality by the locals.
|Spiti Valley Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Spiti Valley Timings:||Unrestricted Entry|
|Best time to Visit Spiti Valley:||February – March
May – September End
2. Chandratal Lake:
The deep blue- colored Chandratal lake is positioned at a height of 14,100 ft in the Himalayas surrounded by beautiful landscape. Chandratal means “The Moon shaped Lake” is about 3 kilometers in circumference. The Chandra river is the source of the lake and the crystal clear water of the lake reflects the surrounding cliff and talus, making it absolutely stunning.
The mountain ranges called the Moulkila and Chandrabhaga surrounds the Chandratal and it ranges between 3000 to 6300 meters in height. Chandratal Lake is among the highest wetlands in India, hence is a major source of water to many wild lives living on this part of The Himalaya. Apart from high mountains and cirque, the lake is surrounded with lush green meadows and wildflowers of rare species. This lake is believed to be evolved from a glacier that was present in the ancient time in this region. It is popular for trekking and mountaineering followed by photographic expeditions, shootings for movie, ads etc.
|Chandratal Lake Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Chandratal Lake Timings:||Unrestricted Entry|
|Best time to visit Chandratal Lake:||June – October 1st week|
3. Kunzum Pass:
Kunzum La or Kunzum Pass is a high mountain pass situated at 15060 ft on the Kunzum Range of the Himalaya. About 120 kilometers from Manali, Kunzum Pass connects the Kullu Valley to the Spiti valley and considered to be one of the highest passes in India. This route is very popular among the biker as the complete journey bring many small treasures of mother nature, like snow-topped mountains, small waterfalls, a top view of the entire Spiti valley.
Kunzum pass also provides the top view of magnificent Bara-Sigri Glacier, the second largest Glacier in the world. Apart from a biker, this place is also popular among the trekker, who treks 12 kilometers towards the Chandratal lake. It consists of fifteen(15) sharp hairpin turns, that gives a challenging drive ahead. The Kunzum Mata(goodness) temple is a popular temple here. The drivers, travelers, and passer-by seek blessings of Kunzum mata before heading towards this tough route.
|Kunzum Pass Entry Fees||Nil|
|Kunzum Pass Timings||Everyday 08:00 AM – 05:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Kunzum Pass||March – October|
4. Rohtang Pass:
About 51 kilometers from Manali, Rohtang Pass is a high mountain pass that connects the Kullu Valley to the Spiti valley. Rohtang pass is located at a height of 13050 ft in the eastern Pir Pranjal Range of the Himalaya. On the southern side of this pass, the Beas River emerges from underground and flows southward and on its northern side, the Chandra River(flows from the eastern Himalayas), a source stream of the river Chenab, flows westward.
Situated on the Leh- Manali Highway, Rohtang pass is the gateway to Ladakh. This journey towards Ladakh is all about glaciers, snow-capped mountains, natural waterfalls and the scary zig-zag road. Rohtang pass is the most visited location near Kullu and Spiti valley. Rohtang pass is also popular for paragliding and ice sports. To travel via Rohtang Pass, one needs to take the Rohtang permit either online or from the SDM office at Manali that cost you INR 500 per vehicle(congestion charges are additional).
If you are planning for a road trip on a motorbike than you need to have an undertaking certificate from the SDM office at Manali in order to cross Rohtang pass. Due to heavy snowfall during the winters, this pass mostly remains close from Mid-November to February end.
|Rohtang Pass Entry Time:||Nil|
|Rohtang Pass Timings:||Everyday 08:00 AM – 05:00 PM (Except Tuesday)|
|Best time to visit Rohtang Pass:||April – October|
5. Bara-lacha la:
Baralacha La or Baralacha Pass is another high mountain pass at an elevation of 16040 ft in the Zanskar range, connecting Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir through Leh- Manali highway. Baralacha La means “a pass where many routes meet”. Baralacha is a high plateau pass where three different mountain ranges – Pir Panjal, Zanskar and the Great Himalaya meet.
The Bhaga river, a tributary of the Chandrabhaga river, is located a few kilometers away from the pass and originated from the Surya Taal. Chandra, another tributary of Chandrabagha, also originated from a glacier in the region. The pass acts as a natural divide between the rivers Yunam and Bhaga. Baralacha is popular among the trekkers. Mostly the trekkers for Chandratal lake makes it up to Baralacha that involves camping and walking at reasonably high altitude, and crossing a few glacial rivers.
|Bara-lacha la Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Bara-lacha la Timings:||Everyday 08:00 AM – 05:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Bara-lacha la:||April – October|
6. Key Monastery:
Key monastery or Key Gompa is the largest monastery in this region and is considered as an important training center for Lamas. Situated on a mountain peak at an altitude of 13,688 ft near the Spiti River, Key Gompa is the home of around 300-350 monks and Lamas. They receive their religious education here at the Gompa during the winters while stay with their families during summer to help them with earnings.
The Key monastery was founded by Dromton(who was a famous disciple of Bengali teacher Atisha who was one of the greatest teachers of Buddhism from the 11th century) between 1008- 1064 CE. Key Gompa is also known as the fort monastery because of its unique Pasada Style(2-3 floor structure built as a fort). The monastery has a huge collection of valuable manuscripts, musical instruments, weapons, stucco images, thangas etc as late as of 14th century.
|Key Monastery Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Key Monastery Timings:||Everyday 06:00 AM – 06:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Key Monastery:||May – October|
7. Langza Buddha Statue:
Langza is a remote village situated at a height of 14500 ft and surrounded by snow-capped Trans- Himalayan range. Owing to its proximity to Tibet, the village is dominated with the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. As the temperature drops below zero during the winters and being a desert mountain, the population in this village is somewhat around/ below 150 people. Hazzim is the most economical part of this village and is known for its great Buddha statue.
This huge golden colored Buddha statue is believed to be some 1000 years old and quite visible from kilometers away. This is a stunning 11-ft tall Buddha statue erected near the monastery at Langza. The unique feature of this statue is the way it has been positioned. It has been built at the edge of a cliff and oversees the entire Himalayan range. It has been given some very bright and vibrant colors that are in absolute contrast to the clear blue sky.
|Langza Buddha Statue Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Langza Buddha Statue Timings:||Unrestricted Entry|
|Best Time to visit Langza Buddha Statue:||May – September|
8. Tabo Monastery:
Tabo monastery is popularly called “The Ajanta of the Himalaya” is located in the Tabo village. It was founded in 996 CE in the Tibetan year of the Fire Ape by the Tibetan Buddhist lotsawa(translator) Rinchen Zangpo(Mahauru Ramabhadra), on behalf of the king of western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge, Yeshe-Ö. It is the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in India and Himalaya. It belongs to Gelug sect of Tibetan Monastery.
The monastery is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) as a national historic treasure of India. It has nine temples, four decorated stupas, and cave shrines. Most of the paintings in the main temple and stupa are from 10th-14th century. Tabo Monastery has a huge collection of thankas(scroll paintings), manuscripts, well-preserved statues, frescos and extensive murals which cover almost every wall. The Temple of the Enlightened Gods, in the first group temple and the Large Temple of Dromton, The Mahakala Vajra Bhairava Temple, and The White Temple that belongs to the second group of the temple is the major attraction in Tabo monastery.
|Tabo Monastery Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Tabo Monastery Timings:||Everyday 08:00 AM – 05:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Tabo Monastery:||May – October|
9. Suraj Tal:
The Suraj Tal or Surya Tal lake is situated just below the Bara-la-cha pass at an elevation of 16, 020.3ft. Suraj Tal stands for “the lake of Lord Sun” in Hindi and is the third highest lake in India and the 21st highest lake in the world. Suraj Tal Lake is the source of Bhaga River which joins the Chandra River downstream at Tandi to form the Chandrabhaga River in Himachal Pradesh territory, and as it enters Jammu and Kashmir it is renamed as the Chenab River.
During the summers, the water is drawn from the surrounding mountains and nearby glaciers. This emerald green colored lake surrounded with arid mountains looks splendid from the Manali- Leh trail. Due to heavy snowfall and continuous negative temperature, the lake remains frozen during the winters.
|Suraj Tal Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Suraj Tal Timings:||Everyday 08:00 AM – 05:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Suraj Tal:||mid of May-mid of October|
10. Hamta Pass:
At an elevation of 14039 ft in the Pir Pranjal range of the Himalayas, Hamta pass is a small corridor between the Lahaul valley and Kullu valley. Among several trekking spots in Himachal Pradesh, Hamta pass is considerably convenient and a smooth trekking path. It is known for its several variations in the trails; scenic landscapes, open green pastures and meadows, glacial valleys, easy access and an exceptional, adventurous and sharp crossing.
This is a widely used path by the shepherds for the high altitude grassland. At about 3000-3800 meters, a wide range of wildflowers and herbs are spread in the valley. Vertical rock walls, waterfalls, hanging glaciers, pinewoods, rhododendron forests, open meadows, tiny lakes and peaks rising above 6000 m are the elements of joy in this trek. Trekking through the snow at Hamta pass is very much appreciated by the trekkers.
|Hamta Pass Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Hamta Pass Timings:||Everyday 06:00 AM – 05:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Hamta Pass:||June – October|
Read more: 16 Best Places To Visit in Sikkim
11. Pin Valley National Park:
Established in 1987 over 675 sq. kilometers, Pin Valley National Park is a part of the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area. The elevation at the park ranges from 11500 ft to 20000 ft at its highest point. Previously the park marked as the border between the Spiti and Lahaul district. The park’s core zone stretches over 675 sq. km and the buffer zone extends over 1150 sq. km. The park has more than 12 kinds of big cats and animals. It is also a home to many high altitude birds and immigrants.
The Snow leopards, Tibetan gazzle, Red fox and Siberian ibex are the popular attraction. Even though the national park is dominated by Alpine forest, still it has a good collection of many other flowering trees, timbers and medicinal herbs and shrubs. The foreign tourists are not welcomed inside the park, while the Indian visitors are allowed only with a permit.
|Pin Valley National Park Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Pin Valley National Park Timings:||Everyday 06:00 AM – 06:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Pin Valley National Park:||July – October|
12. Mantalai Lake:
Located at 4200 meters on the trail to Pin Parvati pass, Mantalai Lake is known for trekking. Mantalai lake originates from the melting of snow from the nearby mountains or glaciers and it is the source to Parvati River. The trek starts at the Barshani Village towards Pin Parvati pass through the Parvati valley. The entire trek brings around Scenic beauty, Natural falls, Flora & Fauna.
From Barshani the 1st base is at Khirganga, the hot spring where Lord Shiva believed to meditate. The trail passes through magical fir and rhododendron forests to bring the trekker to the meadows dotted with sheep of gaddi shepherds at Tunda Bhuj. The next campsite and overnight stop are called Thakur Khan. Now, From Pandu Pul, the trek leads to Odi Thach, then towards Mantalai Lake.
|Mantalai Lake Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Mantalai Lake Timings:||Unrestricted Entry|
|Best Time to visit Mantalai Lake:||June – October|
13. Sissu waterfalls:
Around 25 Km from Gramphu on the manal-Leh highway, Sissu waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North India. Sissu fall lies on the left bank of the Chandra River and accessible through a suspension bridge over the river. The entire area offers panoramic views of snow clad mountains and the zig-zag road between the hill. It is famous for its greenery surrounded all over the waterfall and the free-flowing water straight down the hill.
The falls can be seen from the road to Manali and visitors are attracted to this place by the beauty surrounding the falls. The source of water is the suspended glaciers on the Himalayan range. This falls has a drop of about 50 meters and is considered by travelers as one of the best falls in the Himalayan region.
|Sissu waterfalls Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Sissu waterfalls Timings:||Unrestricted|
|Best Time to visit Sissu waterfalls:||May – October|
14. Dhankar Fort and Dhankar Gompa:
The Dhankar village is one of the best villages in Sipit and Lahaul District and it is the home of the famous Dhankar Fort and Dhankar Monastery. Situated at an elevation of 12,774 feet on the hilltop of the Dhankar Village, Dhankar monastery or Dhankar Gompa is a complex fort like a monastery, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. Like Key monastery, Dhankar Monastery is also a fort monastery built in the Central Tibetan pattern.
It belongs to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dhankar Fort is located right above the monastery, which is built on a 300-meter high spur. It has been declared among the 100 most endangered sites in the world. This 7th-century Buddhist monastery is the second highest monastery in the world after Key Monastery and an important center of Buddhist learning since the seventh century. The fort has some features dating back to the 12th century.
|Dhankar Fort and Dhankar Gompa Entry Fees:||Nil|
|Dhankar Fort and Dhankar Gompa Timings:||Everyday 06:30 AM – 05:00 PM|
|Best Time to visit Dhankar Fort and Dhankar Gompa:||May – October|
Hope you have enjoyed the article. Also, don’t forget to check out other places to visit in Himachal Pradesh, India including Kullu & Lahaul Spiti. Love Photography & Travel? Sign up for our newsletter and stay updated with the latest articles.