Spiti is a stark cold dessert with high mountains, narrow valleys and a few scattered green patches. The region experiences no rainfall. It is a completely different world of its own wrapped in the barren beauty of the dry mountains. The name ‘Spiti’ means ‘central region’ depicting its location between India and Tibet. The inhabitants of Spiti are known for horse riding skills. Translated, ‘Spiti’ means the ‘middle country’ – a name obviously given as a result of its ties with both India and Tibet.
Kaza, the sub-divisional headquarters of Spiti, is a calm and serene place. It lies on the left bank of river Spiti at an altitude of 3600m. Kaza is divided into the old and new towns. The Government buildings are located in the new town. Kaza has a main market, fuel station, auto parts shop, shopping complex, travel agents, hotels, restaurants and guesthouses. It also has a helipad. State Bank of India has a branch and ATM. There is a Buddhist Monastery and a Hindu Temple.
Places to Visit in Kaza
- Sakya Tangyud Monastery: One of the highest monasteries at an altitude of 4520m, this Gompa is built in Komic village on the edge of a deep gorge overlooking the town of Kaza. The huge mud walls of the Gompa with red, yellow and white stripes are a majestic sight.
- Kibber village: Kibber has the record of being the highest village in the world connect by road and having a polling booth for the villagers to exercise their voting rights. It is located 18 kms from Kaza at an altitude of 4205m.
- Ki Gompa: Built in the 11th century, this is the biggest and most renowned monastery in the Spiti valley. Scores od Buddhist monks and nuns inhabit the monastery. The monastery houses ancient Buddhist scriptures and paintings. It is located 11 kms from Kaza at an altitude of 4116m.
- Dhankar Monastery: This famous Buddhist monastery is located 24 kms from Kaza at an altitude of 3890m.
- Pin Valley: This land of Ibex and snow leopards lies at the base of the Kungri glacier. It is formed by the Pin River, a tributary of the Spiti. The valley can be accessed from Atrangoo, 10kms ahead of Schichling. It houses many ancient and beautiful Buddhist monasteries. Gungri Monastery is known for its relics and paintings. Pin Valley is popular for its trekking routes, most famous being the trek to Kullu over the Pin Parbati Pass and the trek to Kinnaur over the Bhaba Pass.
- Kunzum Pass: It is a high motorable mountain pass at 4551m which connects Lahaul with the Spiti Valley. The pass is closed during the winter months due to heavy snowing from November to June every year cutting off the valley from the rest of the world. Goddess Kunzum is revered as the guardian of the pass.
- Chandra Tal: This spectacular deep blue lake is surrounded by snow through most part of the year. The Chandra River flows close by. Chandra Tal is located 7 kms from Kunzum Pass at an altitude of 4270m. The lake has a perimeter of 2.5 kms. Camping activities are popular around the lake in the months of August-September.
Recommended Itinerary for Kaza
Day 1: Arrive in Kaza, Check into hotel/ guesthouse, relax and get acclimatised to the high altitude.
Day 2: Visit Ki Monastery and Kibber village. Enjoy a visit to the market in the evening.
Day 3: Visit Langcha-Hikkim-Komic monasteries.
Day 4: Visit the Rangrik Rewa caves.
Day 5: Visit Pin Valley: Kungri Monastery and Mud village
This region is known as Cold Desert and does not receive rainfall. In winter the temperature can drop below freezing point, when heavy woollens are required. In summers the weather remains pleasant when light woollens are advised.
Distances and Route to Kaza:
Kaza is connected by a motorable road which is accessible from Shimla between May to October and from Manali via the Kunzum Pass between June to October.
Kalpa – Kaza (218 Kms 7-8 hours): Kalpa – Poari – Jangi – Spello – Puh – Khab Sangam – Leo Village Road – Bypass Nako – Malling – Shialkhar – Sumdo – Hurling – Lapcha – Tipta – Lari – Bypass Tabo – Poh – Shego – Kaza.
Reckong Peo – Kaza (209 Kms 7 hours): Reckong Peo – Poari – Jangi – Spello – Puh – Khab Sangam – Leo Village Road – Bypass Nako – Malling – Shialkhar – Sumdo – Hurling – Lapcha – Tipta – Lari – Bypass Tabo – Poh – Shego – Kaza.
Tabo – Kaza (48 kms, 1.5 hours): Tabo – Poh – Shego – Kaza.
Nako – Kaza (110 kms, 4 hours): Nako – via Leo village road – Malling – Shialkhar – Sumdo – Hurling – Lapcha – Tipta – Lari – Bypass Tabo – Poh – Shego – Kaza.
Puh – Kaza (148 Kms 5.5 hours): via NH22 – Puh – Khab Sangam – Leo Village Road – Bypass Nako – Malling – Shialkhar – Sumdo – Hurling – Lapcha – Tipta – Lari – Bypass Tabo – Poh – Shego – Kaza.
Manali – Kaza (204 Kms 9 hours): Manali-Leh Highway – Palchan – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu (Turn Right) – Chhatru – Batal – Kunzum La (Pass, 4551m) – Losar – Hansa – Kiato – Jugmothang – Hull – Hal – Moorang – Sumling – Kaza.
Rohtang Pass –Kaza (204 Kms 9 hours): Manali-Leh Highway – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu (Turn Right) – Chhatru – Batal – Kunzum La (Pass, 4551m) – Losar – Hansa – Kiato – Jugmothang – Hull – Hal – Moorang – Sumling – Kaza.
Batal – Kaza (88kms, 4 hours): Batal – Kunzum La (Pass, 4551m) – Hansa – Kiato – Jugmothang – Hal – Sumling – Kaza.
Nearest Airport: Bhuntar (250 kms) near Kullu or at Jubbarhatti (425kms) near Shimla.
Accomodation in Kaza:
PWD Rest House
IPH Guest House
The Spiti: This is a HPTDC run deluxe hotel in Kaza with comfortable rooms with satellite TV as per the Himachal tourism standards. The hotel is open from June to October. Restaurant and parking facilities are available. Tariffs are inclusive of food charges. Phone: 01906-222752.
Hotel Sakya Abode
Grand Dewachen: Luxury hotel with 8 deluxe rooms and a restaurant. Tariff ranges between Rs.5000-7000 per room with meals included. Located near Rangrik village. Phone: +91-9459566689/ 01906 223318.
Hotel Delek House
Hotel Spiti Valley