Hindustan – Tibet Road or Road to Spiti Valley | An Introduction

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After writing so many articles and covering most parts of Ladakh to help fellow travellers travel that heavenly place in Trans Himalayan region at ease, finally it is time to start writing about its another facet Spiti Valley, which is another cold desert in Trans Himalayan region but in Himachal Pradesh. Spiti Valley is also sometimes termed as Little Ladakh and it is extremely difficult to say which one is better than the other. Just like Leh – Ladakh, Spiti Valley is also a heavenly place where people can loose their souls easily in the magical vistas spanning over hundreds of miles in Trans Himalayan region. In the first article of the series for comprehensive guide to Spiti Valley, I presented the most common itinerary which can be followed to have a successful trip to Spiti Valley. Now, let’s begin the detailed dissection of the trip to Spiti Valley with an introduction of Hindustan – Tibet Road or so called road to Spiti Valley

Information about Hindustan Tibet Road at Powari…
Information about Hindustan Tibet Road at Powari

Information about Hindustan Tibet Road at Powari…
Information about Hindustan Tibet Road at Powari

Hindustan – Tibet Road is popularly known as one of the most adventurous and deadliest roads in the world overlapping the majority of traditional silk route and running alongside of National Highway – 22 (NH – 22). The ride or self drive over Hindustan – Tibet Road running through some of the remotest and magnificent vistas is something hard to ever forget in one’s life. However, a lot of people confuse the Hindustan – Tibet Road with NH – 22, so let’s first see in this article what exactly is the difference between both of them and then we will look at the major attractions or places on this road to Spiti Valley in the next article.

Difference Between Hindustan – Tibet Road & NH – 22

In one of my discussions with few other experienced travellers at IndiaMike (linked here) and going through that very thread plus many other resources, following summary can be drawn between Hindustan – Tibet Road & NH – 22:

  • NH – 22 starts at Ambala while Hindustan – Tibet Road starts at Shimla and both are not aligned together for majority of the parts except the common sections are only Shimla to Rampur, Wangtu to Tapri, and Puh to Khab .
  • NH – 22 ends at Kaurik on sign boards but officially or legally near Shipki La and even Wikipedia sources say so ;). Kaurik as a village might not exist anymore but there should be post for sure up there.
  • Hindustan – Tibet Road ends at Shipki La from Indian side but may extend further towards Shpki village and beyond into Tibet. It is like Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur – Gaura – Sarahan – Nichar – Wangtu – Tapri – Urni – Roghi – Kalpa – Pangi – Jangi – Labrang – Puh – Khab – Namgya – Shipki La – Shipki Village (Tibet) and may be beyond.
  • There is no old and new Hindustan – Tibet Road. There is only one Hindustan – Tibet Road that was old one and other confusions are mostly with NH – 22.
  • From Sumdo police post (starting point of Spiti Valley), the State Highway – 30 (SH – 30) leads you all the way to Tabo and then Kaza NH – 22 runs right uphill from a Y – Fork just after police checkpost leading you towards Kaurik. The left road leads you on SH – 30 towards Tabo and Kaza.
  • At Sumdo, you need to register yourself again at police checkpost as the region fall under Inner Line permit zone or near LAC (Line of Actual Control) and Foreigners need to submit their copy permits at Sumdo (Refer link here for more details details on inner line permits to Spiti Valley and Kinnaur Valley)
  • To make it further clear, Hindustan – Tibet Highway cuts off at Khab towards namgia – shipki La route and ends Kinnaur Valley only. While, NH-22 takes you to Kaurik ahead of Sumdo (at least by the markings), hence just to the entrance of Spiti Valley. After the Kaurik Y – fork, it is State Highway – 30 that takes you deep into Spiti Valley towards Tabo and Kaza.

Thanks alot to dear friend Vinci for his valuable inputs on some of the points above…

The famous carved roads near Khab Bridge…
Carved roads near Khab Bridge on Hindustan Tibet Highway
Conclusion

Bottom line is that, you will be partially running over the Hindustan – Tibet Road and partially over the NH – 22 in order to Travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla side. Now, we have some background of the differences between NH – 22 and Hindustan – Tibet Road, in the next article, I will talk in detail about the main attractions or places on Hindustan – Tibet Road which most travellers can enjoy on the way to Spiti Valley. If you have any information about the differences between Hindustan – Tibet Road & NH – 22, please do share with us as well so that it proves helpful for other fellow travellers.

Updated the Link to next article: Hindustan Tibet Road & NH – 22 | Interesting Places

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60 Comments

  1. we are planning to trip to spiti valley via shimla in the first week of august…would that be a good time to travel through this route?

  2. Hey! Dheeraj…..I have read a lot of your articles that you have put up and must thank you as they are super informative and am sure will be very helpful during our trip.I just want to give you a brief Itinerary and want to know if its planed all right & if you can give me realistic travel time from one destination to the next.
    Day- 1 Delhi – Narkanda
    Day-2 Narkanda – Kalpa
    Day-3 Kalpa-Tabo
    Day-4 Tabo-Kaza
    Day -5 Kaza-Losar-Chandrataal Lake
    Day-6 Manali
    Day-7 Manali-Delhi
    We are two girls travelling alone ,so how safe is it for women traveller’s and if there is any one else you know who is traveling during the same time,maybe we can connect with them . Safety in numbers I guess!
    Thanks……

    • Hi Rati,

      Yes, given the time or days in hands with you I feel this is the best you will be able to do, though as you see you will be packing your bags every day to reach the other destination.

      That region is completely safe top travel, no worries on that front. Regarding connecting with others, it will be better if you explore the DoW Travel Calendar and filter the entries based on your interest from it

      Regards
      Dheeraj

      • Hey !Dheeraj,

        Thanks, seems its going to be too rushed…..but just don’t have more days .Will look up the DoW calender….thank you for your time and advice.

        Thanks
        Rati

        • Rati, in that case you can opt to go from Manali side and return from Manali side. This way it will save a lot and lot of travel and you can only focus on just Spiti Valley with ease. Sounds like a plan?

      • Nilesh Malu on

        Hi
        I am reaching manali on 18th July morning and we r heading for trip to spiti valley. Out return journey to manali will be 29th.
        Can I get some references for bike rentals and also can you give me some itinerary and some must visit places. We intend to keep it a low budget trip and also a very close to nature trip. Sleeping under the sky in the tents and may be a 1 day trek.
        Tips and itinerary pls

    • Ready for a quick packup??? I with my wife planned and will b reaching narkanda for covering same destinations on Tuesday. If interested u can join…

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  4. Deepesh jain on

    Your advice is welcommed for the following issue;
    Is 4 wheel drive vehicle must for self driving to Spiti or Laddakh. Is Somo Gold (2956 CC 3.0CR4, MaxPower 60-62 kw @3000 rpm, Max Torque 250 Nm @ 1000 – 2000 rpm 180 mm Ground clearence) or Mahindra Balero (2523 CC m2DiCR, Max Power 46.3 kW @ 3200rpm, Torque 195 NM @ 1400-2200RPM) is a better choice. you may suggest another choice in the price range of Rs. 7 to 8 lakhs.

  5. Nilavra Ghosh on

    Dheeraj ,
    What is the cheap option to stay in Jispa ? I visited the website of Padma Lodge but it seems quite costly as I saw the double bed charges are more than Rs 2000/- per day. I thought this lodge would be cheap. What is the price in PWD ? can I book PWD in advance ?

  6. Nilavra Ghosh on

    Dheeraj ,
    Is it ok to take my 3 yr old son for Spiti trip from Manali to Kaza over Kunzum la. Do you know people go there with their kids ?

      • Nilavra Ghosh on

        What do you think about taking my 3 yr old son to Leh over Manali-Leh Highway ?I think children are less affected by AMS than we people. Children lungs are stronger than ours. Do you know any incidence where children are affected by AMS ?

        • 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 physical health condition. It can happen to anyone of any age or sex or fitness I shall say :D… 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 2+ 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.

        • Nilavra Ghosh on

          Dheeraj ,
          Many thanks for the information. You shared with me earlier the link where I can get the taxi driver list for spiti trip. Similarly I need taxi driver list for Manali Leh drive. Can you please send me the link ?

        • Nilavra Ghosh on

          Dheeraj ,
          I have finalized for Manali Leh trip next year. I want to see lots of snow on the trail so what time you think would be good ? In 2013 it opened in May but in 2014 it opened on 8th June. So initially I thought of having the trip may end but now it seems to be doable not before 10th June. What time you think would be correct that the highway would be open to tourists for sure. Mid of June ? It would be better if we could do that in 1st week of june because that time it doesn’t rain much but all it depends on when the highway is opened by BRO.

        • Nilavra, I will not suggest anything before 15th June. Post that you should be good if you are pre-planning. It is good to drive the frozen highway as soon as it gets open but that means adhoc plan.

    • Nilavra Ghosh on

      Dheeraj ,
      What would be the cost of a small car (Four seater is enough for 2 people only) for Chandigarh to Manali drop ?

  7. Nilavra Ghosh on

    Hi Dheeraj ,
    Need one more information. Is there a motorable road up to Chandratal or I heard that you have to trek some 3 kms because the cars don’t go all the way to the lake. I understand Manali to Chandratal to Kaza or kaza to Chandrataal to manali may not be possible in a single day so what would be the best place to stay after visiting chandratal ? I do not want to camp at the lake

    • Hi Nilavra,
      We are just back from spiti yesterday itself,vehicles can go to till chandratal lake you just have to trek for around 700M.
      If you don’t want to stay in the camps at the base camp then you have to start early in the morning.

    • Nilavra, I think it has been answered. The vehicles goes upto almost 13 KMs with last 700-800 Mtrs remaining to be trekked, which is just a kind of walk. Nilavra, best is to stay overnight at Chandratal and do Chandratal to Manali next day. Else stay at Sissu or Khoksar too while going from Manali as it will help in acclimatization too. Also, Chandratal – Kaza is about 3 Hrs, so people do Kaza to Chandratal to Manali as well but as you understand it becomes hectic.

      • Nilavra Ghosh on

        Dheeraj ,
        Thanks for the information. What would be the car cost per day from manali for spiti tour by a 10 seater ? I think a small car won’t go there right ? we are 4 people

        • You can get connected directly to some drivers in 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 too.

          The rates of the taxis are about Rs 3000-3500 per day depending upon the number of days you plan to travel, more the days, less the price.

          Otherwise, taxis in general are also available on the spot from Shimla or Manali from respective taxi stands

      • Nilavra Ghosh on

        Dheeraj ,
        Which month and what time this year the road from Kargil to Padum via Penzila opened ?

        • Nilavra Ghosh on

          Thanks Dheeraj. Do you have any link where I can find 2014 taxi rates from Kargil to padum ? If you don’t have any such link then please let me know what would be the approx. cost by a taxi from Kargil to Padum one way and also return ? Suppose I spect 2 days at Padum so the taxi has to stand idle in padum. What would they charge per day in that case ?

        • Nilavra, why not call up drivers of Padum as well as Kargil mentioned here and ask the rates.

          When I did the trip, I paid 13K for a drop to Padum from Kargil with overnight halt at Rangdum and same for return. The Kargil taxi cannot take you back and is meant for just drop to Padum from Kargil. There is no charge per day rather they charged fixed amount destination wise. The Padum taxi will do local sightseeing and drop you back to Kargil only.

        • Nilavra Ghosh on

          Dheeraj ,
          13K for one way from kargil to Padum!!! and the same for return. It’s huge cost. 26K for a round trip.

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  9. Nilavra Ghosh on

    Hi Dheeraj ,
    Need one information. What date this year the road from manali to Kaza via Kunzum la opened this year ? I am planning for the trip next year so really want to know which date in June or July would be safe ? Want to see some good snow on the way.

    • Nilavra, it opened in last week of June, if I remember correctly and last year opened in thrid week of June. For the complete circuit, June end or July should be good.

  10. Hi,
    Just over a year ago I was in the HT Highway region but too early to take on the route. As I hope to return next year on a 500cc Bullet what would be the best months to complete the circuit? I have plenty of time so am in no rush.
    Thanks.
    Mike

    • Mike, if you are in no hurry and not much fond of snow then, no other month better than September to visit this amazing belt of Himalayas. The colors are unmatched to any other month and weather is just fine with less tourist and traffic too. Also, rains settle down, so roads conditions are much better than any other month. Read the article: Best Season to Travel on Road to Spiti Valley

  11. Ujjwal Jain on

    Hey dheeraj

    We are three friends planning a trip to spiti in may first or second week. Firstly would like to knw what kind of road conditions exist during may. We look to do the whole circuit starting from manali n coming back from shimla. What I am wondering is whether there are chances of having the rohtang n other passes beyond that opening by then .

    Also would like to knw if there is any road connecting tso moriri to spiti. We really want to see that since we missed it 2 years back when we made an expedition to Ladakh.

    Is the spiti route doable in a hatchback ? What would be your advise in terms of route so that we do find a lot of snow on the way.

    Regards
    Ujjwal

    • Hi Ujjwal,

      Road conditions are OK to travel in May. Whole circuit will not be possible as the Kunzum Pass will not open in May. Even Rohtang can open but no chances of Kunzum Pass. There is no road yet connecting Tso Moriri to Spiti, it has just been passed on papers 🙂 … Spiti Valley is doable in hatchback provided you drive with care and caution and ready to accept some bruises underbelly.

      Regard
      Dheeraj

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  16. Satyender S Dhull on

    Interesting and informative description. I think the NH22 is from Ambala to Khab only.

    • O yes, that’s what the confusion is. There are so many complications but after discussions in the referenced forum, I think I have tried to outline the crux above 😉

      • Satyender S Dhull on

        Not only wiki as a source but its mentioned on the NHAI’s website as well (NH22). Also, I feel that HT road started from Theog.

        • Satyender, this thread at IndiaMike linked here is a great source by various like minded travelers. But, I feel I even say a side mark on road near Sumdo with marking as NH-22 and you must have noticed that you see Kaurik signage at many places throughout the route. I am going there on 4th May again, will try to get snapshot too. also, will try to talk with people over there to get the knowledge about these confusions 😉

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  18. JATDEVTA SANDEEP on

    एक दिन आयेगा, जब अपनी बाइक इन खूबसूरत सड़कों से होकर जायेगी। बहुत जल्द……..

  19. desi Traveler on

    Very useful information. This is one part of the country I am yet to do on road…thanks.

    • Thanks alot. Yeah, do check out this road sooner or later as it is one of the experience not to be missed out on 🙂 … Do let me know in case you need any inputs on planning the trip to Spiti Valley.

      Regards
      Dheeraj Sharma

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