5 Reasons to Travel Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur Route

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We all know that there are two routes that exist to travel to Spiti Valley. The one route takes you all the way to Kaza, Spiti from Shimla – Kinnaur side while the other route goes from Manali – Rohtang Pass to Spiti.

In the last two articles, I have talked about in details on How To Travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur side and then How To Travel to Spiti Valley from Manali side. Now that we know how we are going to travel to Spiti Valley the question arises which one you should pick and why. If one has to make a choice among these two routes for traveling to Spiti Valley by road, then let’s looks at some advantages of traveling to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur route, popularly known as Hindustan Tibet Highway.

Why to travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla - Kinnaur side?
Why to travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur side?

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Why travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur route?

If you compare the road to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur Route with the road to Spiti Valley from Manali, there are certain definitive advantages as well as disadvantages of both these beautiful routes. If you ask me, it is a hard choice but some of the reasons mentioned in this article will help you make the right choice based on your preferences.

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 the advantages of making the road trip to Spiti Valley from Manali side.

Spiti Valley from Shimla - Kinnaur
Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur

1. Acclimatization and AMS

Sometimes, people traveling or going directly to Spiti Valley or Kaza from Manali suffers from acute mountain sickness due to the sudden change of altitude. The body does not adapt that quickly to such a high altitude of Kunzum Pass or Kaza which is about 3600 Mtrs high in altitude. Manali is much lower in altitude to provide any benefits of acclimatization. Hence, there is a very high possibility of getting hit with AMS when traveling to Spiti from Manali side. One night stay is not sufficient to acclimatize to the altitude of Spiti Valley or Chandratal.

However, when you travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur side, the Hindustan Tibet Road provides a gradual ascend to travelers. Thus, it helps you fight any chances of acute mountain sickness (AMS) caused due to a sudden change in high altitudes.

Hence, you enjoy the beautiful vistas en-route Spiti Valley in a relaxed and peaceful manner without any concerns of AMS in trans-Himalayas.

Colors of Spiti Valley from Shimla - Kinnaur side
Colors of Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur side

2. Ugly & Messy Drive of Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Batal

When you travel from to Spiti from Manali, then you have to drive through the ever messy Rohtang Pass. The widely famous huge traffic jams which in the month of May-June used to last even for days though since the ban of tourism at Rohtang Pass things have improved alot.

Still, in peak season time, the drivers coming from another side will bully you, break the lines and block the traffic coming from another 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 stranded 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 the Rohtang Pass to Gramphu road on Northern side. So, in case you are self-driving, get ready for some real fun and adventure through slush during this time.

I will admit that you may find roads with slush in Kinnaur region as well when traveling to Spiti. However, going through the journey of Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Batal on the second day of the trip can easily be a trip crasher for certain people who expects a smooth journey across to Kaza from Manali seeing the Google maps.

3. Drama of Manali – Rohtang Pass Permits

Of course, it is a trivial process that you need to get the Rohtang Pass permits when traveling towards Rohtang Pass from Manali side. However, sometimes it can prove to be a frustrating affair. It can be a kind of piss-off which can force you to alter your drive plans or nights stay even. Starting 2018, Himachal govt has launched a mobile app to get yourself the Rohtang Pass permits. You can read my article on how to get Rohtang Pass permit online or using a mobile app.

It is a very welcoming move which eases out the whole process of apply Rohtang Pass permits as it has been known to be a very nightmarish experience in the past. Still, in season time, you might have some frustrating encounters.

Oddly, you do not need Rohtang Pass permit when you travel from Kaza or Keylong side. Hence, when you travel to Spiti Valley from Kinnaur side, you do not need any permits for Rohtang Pass. So, one less thing to prepare or worry about on your adventure road trip to Spiti Valley.

The road from Gramphu to Batal
The road from Gramphu to Batal

4. Limited Season of Travel – June to September

The roads to Spiti Valley from Manali to Kaza side opens up in June along with the opening of the whole route between Gramphu (a small diversion point on Manali – Leh Highway ahead of Rohtang Pass) to Kunzum Pass to Kaza.

Gramphu to Kunzum Pass route remains buried under 20+ feet snow glaciers which needs to be cut-through to make the passage to Spiti. Since this road from Manali to Kaza is low on priority for BRO in general, they start opening it at later stages only after making Manali – Leh Highway almost completely operational.

Kunzum Pass opens in late May – early June

Even after the opening of Manali – Leh Highway, the progress of opening of Gramphu to Kunzum Pass is not that quick. Even though work is done from both ends, that is, from Gramphu end as well as Losar end, the sheer presence of huge glaciers makes the task at hand very difficult.

In fact, the snow clearance operation on Manali to Kaza road from Kaza side starts from March itself. First, the GREF clears the snow from Kaza to Losar and then move towards Kunzum Pass. Finally, the snow clearance operations go beyond Batal up to Chota Dhara / Chatru which falls under other division.

The road up to Chota Dhara / Chatru is cleared from Gramphu side by the division of Lahaul Valley (I hope I am correct in this assumption :))

Hindustan Tibet Road near Reckong Peo Cut-off
Hindustan Tibet Road near Reckong Peo Cut-off

Kunzum Pass closes in October – November

By September month, Kunzum Pass and other high mountain passes of the Himalayas starts receiving snowfall. Hence, it is not an ideal time to travel beyond Kunzum Pass, especially after the middle of October because you can get stranded for some hours to days in between Grampu and Kunzum Pass. It has happened in the past and even recently in 2018 when hundreds of tourists got stuck in Spiti and Lahaul valley after sudden snowfall in September.

As October begins, the risk becomes even higher. Hence, you are limited by a small window of 4-5 months for traveling the road to Spiti Valley from Manali side.

On the other hand, if you travel Spiti Valley from Shimla – Kinnaur side, that route remains open almost all around the year including winter months in Spiti. Only when there is a heavy snowfall, the route from Shimla – Kinnaur to Spiti closes down for few days.

5. Beauty of Hindustan Tibet Highway

In the end, of course, you will miss the entire beauty and adventure of traveling or driving or riding one of the most treacherous roads of the world: Hindustan – Tibet Highway.

The experience of traveling on Hindustan – Tibet road is unmatched and I call it a destination in itself rather than a journey. I am not denying the road beyond Rohtang Pass and towards Kunzum Pass is not that scenic but there is a hell lot more attached to Hindustan – Tibet Highway than the road from Manali over Kunzum Pass to Spiti Valley.

Just to get an idea of sightseeing places over this amazing yet historic route to Spiti from Shimla – Kinnaur side, which shall not be missed, check my article on Hindustan Tibet Road & NH – 22 | Interesting Places

Hindustan – Tibet Road Altitude & Distance Graph
Hindustan – Tibet Road Altitude & Distance Graph
Road to Spiti Valley via Manali Altitude - Distance Graph
Road to Spiti Valley via Manali Altitude – Distance Graph

Still Confused??

Well, if you are still confused on which route to choose to travel to Spiti Valley, I will recommend that you wait and take some more days off to travel the full circuit of Spiti Valley, that is, starting the trip to Spiti from Shimla side and ending at Manali side.

Views in Spiti Valley in March Near Kaza
Views in Spiti Valley in March Near Kaza

Don’t have time to read the full article? Check this less than 3-minute video on DevilOnWheels YouTube Channel on these five reasons to take Shimla to Kaza route instead of Manali to Kaza. If you like my video, please do not forget to SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel.

Why travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla Kinnaur side?

Conclusion

I hope this article 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 a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there.

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

Are you planning to go to Spiti Valley via Hindustan – Tibet Highway or Manali? If yes, please feel free to ask any questions or doubts you have regarding your plan in comments section OR my Instagram profile. I will be happy to reply and discuss them with you. Looking forward to your responses 🙂

If you know your friends or family are planning a trip to Spiti from Shimla side, then do share this article with them to help them make a memorable trip.

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203 Comments

  1. Comments section gets closed in 90 days. You can follow me on Instagram and ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram too. I also conduct a weekly Q&A session every Saturday evening on Instagram, so see you there !!

  2. P K SAINI on

    hi dheeraj sir ,
    pls suggest me i m planning to spiti valley in last week of october 2018, by a scorpion and 6 members via shimla route .
    1- how much to drive a day ?
    2- where to stay at everynight ?
    3- how many days are sufficient to visit ?
    4 – we like to come back via manali..

      • P K SAINI on

        THANKS DHREEJ JI
        for your fast reply,,
        please plan me six days trip for spiti n lahaul valley.
        thanks

        • With just 6 days in hand, you can do
          Day 1 : Reach Manali and stay overnight at Solang Valley as preferred for acclimatization
          Day 2 : Manali / Solang – Kaza
          Day 3 : Kaza – Dhangkar – Tabo – Kaza OR Kaza – Langza – Komik – Hikkim – Kaza
          Day 4 : Kaza – Ki – Kibber – Ki – Rangrik – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal/Batal
          Day 5 : Chandratal/Batal – Manali
          Day 6 : Manali – Delhi

  3. Debasish Chakraborty on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    I am planning to Visit Spiti Vally on May First week via Shimla route. Is the good time to visit and can I expect good lifetime experience ?

    Thanks in Advance
    Debasish

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    • Hi Karan,

      Thar will be much better choice than Innova especially on Manali – Kaza road. I will suggest you to postpone the trip by a week or so as Manali – Kaza road will open by mid June only.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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….??

  18. 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?

  19. 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

  20. 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

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

  22. 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.

  23. 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

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

    • There are only two ways to reach Ladakh by road, Srinagar – Leh and Manali – Leh. Better take Manali – Leh and avoid Srinagar route.

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


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