Spiti Valley forms one of the Trans-Himalayan frontier regions of northern India. Situated near the borders of Tibet, Spiti is basically a cold desert mountain valley located high amidst the Himalaya mountains in the north-eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. The name "Spiti" signifies "The Middle Land", i.e. the land between India and Tibet. It is bounded by Ladakh in the north, Lahaul and Kullu district in the west and south-east respectively, and by Tibet and the Kinnaur district in the east.
Tabo Monastery: Situated at a height of 3280 meters, Tabo monastery, set amidst the village of Tabo is one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries and is regarded as only next in importance to the Tholing Gompa of Tibet. Tabo is credited as the oldest continuously functioning Buddhist monastery in Indian Himalayas. According to an inscription on one of the walls, the monastery was founded in AD 996. Tabo Gompa is the the largest monastic complex in Spiti. It is said that a renowned artist from Kashmir was brought to paint the murals in 996 AD. The nine chapels, four decorated stupas, and cave shrines contain paintings dating back to the 10-11th centuries. A thousand years ago Tabo served as a meeting point between two cultures, which is graphically represented in the art. Indian and Tibetan scholars came to Tabo to learn Tibetan and Indian Buddhist works respectively. This led to the germination resulting in a new art statement best defined as Indo-Tibetan.
Mummy Lama, Gue Village: Gue is one of the most isolated village of Spiti, lying very close to the border of Tibet, about 50km from the Tabo monastery. Coming from Shimla side by the the old Hindustan-Tibet Highway we take the side road after crossing Sumdo. This village has a very well preserved a 500-year-old mummy, believed to be of a holy lama. A closer observation reveals that the mummy is amazingly well-preserved with unbroken skin; teeth, nails and hairs fully intact. According to local legends, about 600 years ago when Gue was troubled by scorpions, this holy lama Sangha Tenzin squatted down to mediate in the prescribed manner, after asking his disciples to entomb him. It is believed when his soul left the body, a rainbow appeared across the sky and the scorpions mysteriously disappeared from the village.
Kaza: Situated at a height of 3800 meters, Kaza is the sub-divisional headquarters of the remote Spiti Valley of the Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal. Set amidst a cold desert landscape it has very close semblance to the neighbouring Tibet and Ladakh regions in terms of terrain, climate and the Buddhist culture. Kaza, situated along the Spiti River is the largest township and commercial center of the Spiti Valley. Overlooking by high mountain ridges on all sides, Kaza has two access points: one from Kinnaur valley and the other from the Lahaul Valley over the Kunzum Pass.
Ki Monastery: Ki Gompa is also spelled as Ki, Kye or Kee. It a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located at an altitude of 4,166 metres (13,668 ft) above sea level. It is the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley and a religious training centre for Lamas. In architecture parlance Ki falls in the 'Pasada' style which is characterized by more stories than one and often plays the role of a fort-monastery. Ki Gompa is said to have been founded by Dromtön (Brom-ston, 1008-1064 CE), a pupil of the famous teacher, Atisha, in the 11th century. Ki monastery boast of a collection of ancient murals and books of high aesthetic value and it enshrines Buddha images and idols, in the Dhyana or meditation position.
Kibber: Situated at a height of 4205 meters Kibber was till the recent past regarded as the highest village of the world. A walk within this high village surely is an experience on its own. Currently, however, neighbouring Komic enjoys the distinction of being the highest village of the world.
Losar: Crossing over the Rangrik Bridge we continue ahead. Passing by many sleepy villages we finally reach the last hamlet Losar before the towering Kunzum Pass. The white coloured, with black and red stripped square & rectangular shaped homes of this place is sure to catch your eyes. This region is less explored and in fact you would come across a mere handful of determined tourist. Losar situated at lofty height of 4080 meters experiences bitter cold in the minus range. You would surely feel the icy winds blowing across your faces. It would be difficult to summarize the beauty of this place in a few meaningful words. The landscape though arid is sheer heavenly. With deep blue sky and high barren snow-capped mountain all around, passing by this serene valley, with the Spiti River meandering through, was perhaps the utmost serene trip you would have in this lifetime - it sure would touch your very soul.
Kunzum Pass: Situated at a dizzying height of 4451 meters Kunzum La Pass pass is a gateway to Spiti when coming from Kulu & Lahaul side. Kunzum La is one of the highest passes of the world. Going from the Spiti side it is the gateway to the Lahaul Valley while approaching from the Lahaul side Kunzum La is the gateway to Incredible Spiti Valley. As one approaches this lofty pass, the panoramic view of Barasingri glacier (second longest glacier in the world) is enthralling and inspiring. Kunzum La pass is marked by a colourful chorten of stones erected ages ago wherein sits the shrine of Goddess Kunzum La. Anyone passing by this shrine, stops by holy Kunzum Mata, praying for a safe passage.