5 Reasons to Travel Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur Route

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In the last two articles we talked about How To Travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur and How To Travel to Spiti Valley from Manali side. Now that we know how we are going to travel to Spiti Valley, if one has to make a choice among the two of them, then let’s looks at some advantages of traveling to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur route, popularly known as Hindustan – Tibet Highway.

Making its way through the mountains… Spiti Valley from Shimla - Kinnaur

If you compare the road to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur Route with road to Spiti Valley from Manali, there are certain definitive advantages of both these beautiful routes. In this article, I will enlist 5 main reasons to travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur route and in the next article I will talk about few advantages of the other way round as well that is from Manali side.

1. Acclimatization and AMS: Sometimes, people traveling or going directly to Spiti Valley or Kaza / Losar from Manali suffers from acute mountain sickness due to the sudden change of altitude with which the body is not adapted as Kaza is about 3600 Mtrs high in altitude. However, Hindustan – Tibet Highway provides a gradual ascent to travellers thus helps them fight any chances of acute mountain sickness (AMS) caused due to sudden change in high altitudes and let them enjoy the beautiful vistas in relaxed and peaceful manner.

2. Ugly & Messy Drive to Rohtang Pass: You have to go through the ever messy Rohtang Pass and its widely famous huge traffic jams which in the month of May-June can last even for days 😯 🙂 … The drivers coming from other side will bully you, break the lines and block the traffic coming from other side. Sometimes even ignorant, ill-mannered people driving from plains are also responsible for this queue breaks and resulting in deadlocks for hours. This only creates frustration and agony, plus some people suffer from ill-health too while starnded for long hours at that high altitude. As those summer and vacation months passes by, monsoons magic comes in and makes the road to Rohtang Pass, especially between Marhi to Rohtang Pass (14 odd KMs) extremely slushy. So, in case you are self driving, get ready for some real fun and adventure through slush.

3. Drama of Manali – Rohtang Pass Permits: Of course, it is a trivial process that you need to get the permits if you you are coming over in a non-HP vehicle and going towards Rohtang Pass from Manali side. Again, a kind of piss-off and can force you to alter the drive plans or stay even as they are issued in office hours 🙂 … For more details on this permits problem, you can read the article: Non – HP Vehicles Need Permit on Manali – Rohtang Pass Road

Starting June-2013 there has been several revisions of the process how these permits are obtained and now in the end with so many different versions of getting permits from SDM Office OR Green Tax Barrier or Tourism Office, no one is clear about the situation 😀 … So, until it gets cleared, go and explore yourself how you will get the permits to cross over Rohtang Pass. Major reports are that they are being issued from Tourism Office and yes one thing is sure that you will need to pay Rs 100 as congestion fees for traveling to Rohtang Pass in non-HP vehicle.

4. Limited Window of Travel (Jun to Sept): The roads to Spiti Valley opens up only in June mid types with the opening of whole route between Gramphu (a small diversion point on manali -Leh Highway ahead of Rohtang Pass) to Kunzum Pass. Gramphu to Kunzum Pass route remains buried under snow glaciers which needs to be cut-through and since this road is low on priority for BRO, they start opening it at later stages only after making Manali – Leh Highway almost completely operational. Even after opening of Manali – Leh Highway, the progress of opening of Gramphu to Kunzum Pass and beyond is not that quick even though work is done from both ends that is from Gramphu end as well as Losar end. In fact the work from Losar end starts form March itself with the opening of road from Kaza to Losar first and then carrying the snow clearance operations towards Kunzum Pass and beyond upto Chota Dhara which falls under ther division. Road upto Chota Dhara is cleared from the division of Lahaul Valley (I hope I am correct in this assumption :))

Then, by September Kunzum Pass starts receieving snowfall and is not an ideal time to be beyond Kunzum Pass at that time of the year because you can get starnded for some hours to days in between Grampu and Kunzum Pass as it is happening for the last couple of years. As October begins, the risk becomes even higher. Hence, you are limited by a small window of 4 months for traveling the road to Spiti Valley from Manali side.

5. Beauty of Hindustan – Tibet Highway: In the end, of course, you miss the entire beauty as well as adventure over one of the most trecherous roads of the world: Hindustan – Tibet Highway, which is unmatched and I call it a destination in itself 🙂 … I am not denying the road beyond Rohtang Pass and towards Kunzum Pass is not that scenic but there is hell lot more attached to Hindustan – Tibet Highway than road from Manali over Kunzum Pass. Just to get an idea of sightseeing places over this amazing road which shall not be missed, check the article: Hindustan Tibet Road & NH – 22 | Interesting Places

Conclusion

I hope this will help all of you who are in a bit of confusion among these two routes. In the next article of the series, I will also talk about some of the reasons which you shall consider to Travel Spiti Valley from Manali side as well, just in case you are feeling too much bounded :)…

Have you ever been to Spiti Valley through Hindustan – Tibet Highway or via Manali? If yes, please share your view points, suggestions or inputs as comments below, it will help other fellow travellers to plan their own journey too.

Are you planning to go to Spiti Valley via Hindustan – Tibet Highway or Manali? If yes, please feel free to ask any queries or doubts you have regarding the your plan either in comments section OR in the DoW – Himalayan Travel Community & Forums. I will be happy to reply and discuss them with you. Looking forward to your responses 🙂

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197 Comments

  1. Hello Dheeraj,

    Very useful article. Thanks for this. One question – I am planning a trip from Delhi to Spiti Valley via Shimla Kinnaur route. I have toyota Etios. Would it be ok or should I hire another car?
    Also I am thinking to come back via rohtang Manali to delhi. Are the roads good for Sedans?

    • If you are used to such road conditions, it is still OK to travel in a hatch or sedan but preferably it is best to tke a high GC vehicle in case you have the availability of it. With high GC vehicle, coming back from Kaza – Manali route is also fine.

  2. Rakesh Swain on

    Hey dheeraj, Thanks a lot for the informative articles. Helps a lot of people.
    I am in just one small dilemma. Your suggestions would be valuable. I am planning to visit Spiti around last week of september, 2017 starting from 23rd Sept from Chandigarh and return to Delhi by 2nd or 3rd Oct on my motorcycle. So, should I do the Manali-Kaza-Shimla circuit or the reverse way round?

    • Hi Rakesh,

      Go for Shimla – Kaza – Manali direction. Nowadays snow is rare to find and the road remains open for a longer time. So, end of September is still considered a good time to travel to Spiti Valley and through Kaza – Manali road as well.

      • RAKESH SWAIN on

        So, you are suggesting Shimla – Kaza – Manali for any specific reason or the reverse is also okay too. But I guess I read from your article, that we don’t have to get a permit for Rohtang pass if we are coming back from Kaza side. Does it still apply today?

        • I am suggesting for the reasons mentioned in the article above with biggest two being the acclimatization and the permit for Rohtang PAss.

  3. Hi Dheeraj,
    I am planning to go to Spiti by last week of August. is it the good time?

    Looking forward! Thank you – Best wishes for you 🙂

  4. Hi Dheeraj. I want to go to Spiti Valley but don’t know whom to go with. I am 54 but comparatively in a good physical shape. I did Chadartrek last year. Do you think I will be able to do Spiti? Please suggest some reliable tour organizer.

  5. Hi Dheeraj, I have been reading your site for quite some time as we have been planning to go to Spiti for quite some time but I have not been able to gather courage. Wanted to know few things:
    1) Which car is better to take: Wagon R or Scorpio. From the videos the roads look very narrow. My husband has driven sedan on hills. We will be taking Scorpio on rent (Self driven car). Please suggest.
    2) We are planning to leave around 2nd June from Shimla and coming back via Manali(Following your itinerary) Is that a good time to go?
    3) I have a two and a half year old kid. Is it advisable to go with him.
    4) I have arthritis in my knees. Is the trip manageable without putting too much stress on knees.
    5) If the vehicle breaks down, then is there any phone number for rescue vehicle.
    Thanks a lot

    • Hi Shalu,

      Below are the inputs:

      1. Scorpio for sure as it has high ground clearance
      2. Well, it will not work out as Manali – Kaza road is expected to open by mid of June. So, you wil have to go from Shimla – Kinnaur side and come back from same route.
      3. It depends on person to person to take the children of such age group because AMS do not matter with respect to age or sex or any fitness level. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness I shall say… The issue with children is that they tend to exert the body considering it the same kind of place they belong to and this elevates the chances of getting struck with AMS. Secondly, they are not much expressive about their uneasy feelings, so it is parents who need to watch out and take care that the child is not suffering from uneasy feelings, headache or nausea and is behaving properly. With less than 4 year child, I think he/she will also be NOT able to convey the uneasiness she may feel. You have to be vigilant and if you notice any such feeling or he/she tells you about such a feeling then please do not ascend anywhere, either descend to lower altitude or stay at the same place to watch things overnight and if symptom increase then start descending immediately. Same is applicable for any adult as well. And yes, do keep the body adequately hydrated!!

      Also, PLEASE read the article: Traveling to Ladakh with Kids or Babies. This article covers this topic in complete detail.

      4. It should be manageable, try to be comfortable in the car. Avoid trekking in such a case
      5. No, unfortunately there will not be any number and post Reckong Peo, only BSNL connection works

  6. Hi Dheeraj, I am planning a solo bike trip from Delhi via Shimla kaza Manali to Delhi starting 10th June 2017, can you tell me how bad are the roads then and if Manali is well connected by 14-15 June??
    Thanks a lot in advance.

  7. Hello dear Sir, I am coming to Himachal from delhi on 29th of may 2017, and want to visit spiti valley rohtang pass and manali. i have diesel car and i dont want to queue up for permission hazzel, Kindly tell me the exact route which i can follow for my tour without indulging in any permission system at SDM offices. I highly need your advice as i am coming with family and kids with hashback car, the roads condition. Is there any checking of papers and permitted passengers and kids in 5 seater car on routes. Any other necessity and essential information from your side.
    My tour is depend on your reply and suggestions. Thanks alot in advance.

  8. Hi, I’m planning to go to spiti valley via shimla and Kinnaur by bike from Delhi.. Can you please tell me what are the permits required and from where I can get them and how long will it take to get those permits.

  9. Hi dheeraj want to travel to shimla kaza manali .Need suggestion about innova or thar what will be better there.I am having both .I am having kid with me also so suggest any one and in june first week what will be the weather and roads position.
    Thanks in advance as ure doing a great job.

  10. Hey Dheeraj,

    I’m going on a solo trip and have decided that I explore the beautiful Spiti Valley but the thing is this it is my first time going solo and so I wish to know what should be the safe option here i.e. should I consider trek packages or is it worth trekking by yourself in Spiti the first time?

  11. Hi Dheeraj,

    A planning a trip to lahaul spiti from shimla. need ur help in few things:
    1. is it ok to travel through this route with kids?
    what itenary should be followed enroute?

    • It is fine to travel with kids as long as you are not rushing it and keeping care of enough hydration and rest. You can check a very balanced and most common itinerary for Spiti Valley followed by many travellers including me at the link here for 10-11 days: Most Common Itinerary for Spiti Valley.

      You can get connected directly to some drivers in Himachal or Spiti Valley or Kinnaur Valley at the link: List of Taxi Drivers for Spiti Valley & Kinnaur Valley. These drivers can come and pick you up from Manali / Shimla / Delhi / Chandigarh too, of course with a price of the pickup as well.

      The rates of the taxis are about Rs 3200-3500 per day depending on the number of days you plan to travel, more the days, less the price. If you are 2-3 in the group, you can opt for sedan taxi cars as well which charges around Rs 2200 per day.

      Otherwise, taxis, in general, are also available on the spot from Shimla or Manali from respective taxi stands. These drivers can help you with finding local stay options too.

      I will suggest adding couple of rest days to the above plan to make it less hectic for kids.

  12. Hi dheeraj,

    please give the status of road to kaza/spiti in 1st week of april. is it open or close?
    We are 6 friends and planned to visit spiti valley.

  13. HI – we are 2 guys planning the trip to Spiti valley via Hindustan- Tibet Highway in the mid of April – any idea about the roads,, will the roads be open,, and any permits require to visit the Spiti/Kaza via this route ?

    Thanks in Advance

    • Ashish, the roads from Shimla – Kinnaur side remains open all round the year. You can even go to Kaza, Spiti valley now as well. The hotels may not be fully open and food will be basic along with basic stays. No permits are required for Indians to visit Spiti valley.

  14. Sumit lalani on

    Can v travel to lahual spiti from shimla in 2nd week of may….how many i would take for a comfortable trip….??

  15. Hi Dheeraj,
    I’m planning to visit Spiti next year. Without doing much research i already booked tickets from Kerala to delhi for the month of April. Now i came to know that rohtang pass remains closed during this time. Is it possible to reach Spiti valley in april through an alternate path?

  16. Madhurima Dutta on

    What would be the cheapest and the most efficient way of travelling to Spiti valley from Shimla, during the end of december?
    Cabs are way too expensive.
    Any other method?
    Do help.
    Loads of love, fellow traveler. <3

  17. But their I’ll find many other people travelling to Ladakh. N I can plan my trip according to some other people travelling to Ladakh in September

  18. What is the name of site at which u r ply messages regarding Leh trip. As this is abt Spitti Valley

  19. Having a month still to go. Lett’s hope situation to get improved in Kashmir. Will get update from u atleast a week b4 leaving.

  20. Then how can I complete my entire tour trip if I travel through Manali side n returning back from the same route. Hope so situations in Kashmir Valley may improve by September. Acclamation of body is also an issue by travelling through Manali side

  21. Wht abt curfew in Kashmir Valley? Is their any other alternate route other than Srinagar-Leh n Manali-Leh highways to reach Ladakh?

  22. Thankx Bro 4 all such updates. Planning to visit their by September. Jst waiting 4 monsoon to get past.

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