You can travel to Spiti Valley from Kinnaur side as well as the Manali side. Many tourists and travelers plan the Spiti trip as a circuit, that is, traveling from the Kinnaur side and then exiting from the Manali side. After an introduction of both Hindustan Tibet Road and NH-05 along with the differences between them in the first article, in this article, we will look at the major attractions or places of interest that fall on or around Hindustan – Tibet Road and NH-5.
If you are making a trip to Spiti Valley then the information in this article and the most common itinerary for Spiti Valley can prove quite handy to make a memorable trip.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Interesting Places on Hindustan Tibet Road or NH-5
In this article, I will try to dissect the whole Hindustan Tibet Road and NH-5 into various sections of interest. I will provide as much information as possible for those sections of this treacherous road so that you make your journey to Spiti Valley ever-memorable 🙂
Updated the article as of December 2017 because a lot of highways have been renamed including NH – 22 being renamed to National Highway 5 or NH5 and as mentioned in the wiki link. Now the NH5 connects Firozpur in Punjab to Shipki La pass at the Sino-Indian border in Himachal Pradesh. Similarly, the road connecting Kaza to Tabo from Sumdo is now called NH505 instead of State Highway – 30 or SH-30. This article has been updated with these name changes.
Shimla – Kufri – Narkanda – Rampur – Sarahan
Shimla is the place where you start your journey on Hindustan Tibet Road and is an extremely popular tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh. Mostly, either people reach Shimla on the first day and those who want to stay away from the hustle-bustle, opt for Narkanda for the first-night stay.
You can visit Kufri, another tourist destination, while on the move from Shimla to Narkanda and just ahead of Kufri there are lots of hotels at a town named Fagu which also can be used for an overnight stay on the first day in between Shimla and Narkanda.
Depending upon the time on hand, one can also visit Hatu Peak from Narkanda to see a lovely sunset or enjoy the snow, if present.
Rampur is a town in Himachal Pradesh and can be used as a lunch stop on Day two on the way to either Sarahan or Sangla / Kalpa from Shimla / Narkanda.
Ahead of Rampur near Jeori, there is a U-Turn off the main highway on the right which takes you to Sarahan about 14 km from Jeori. If time is not an issue, you can surely stay at Sarahan which is a very quiet place with some valley nice views. You can stay at the HPTDC Hotel Shrikhand in Sarahan.
Lower Kinnaur Valley | Sarahan – Sangla / Chitkul – Powari – Reckong Peo – Kalpa
Technically, Saharan, Sangla, Chitkul, Reckong Peo, and Kalpa are NOT over Hindustan – Tibet Highway but generally they are used for night stops on a journey to Spiti Valley over Hindustan Tibet Road or NH-05. All of them being very beautiful are not the places to be missed 🙂
Saharan, Sangla, Chitkul, Kalpa can also be clubbed as a 6-7 day trip ex. Delhi, if someone is short on the days in hand to make a complete Spiti Valley trip. A trip to Kinnaur Valley does include all these places only. Hence, I have covered them in-depth in my article on Travel Guide to Kinnaur Valley.
Reckong Peo is the headquarter of Kinnaur Valley and permits for Kinnaur Valley regions are issued from Reckong Peo only.
Chitkul is the last village in India about 30 odd km ahead of Sangla and surely one of the most beautiful places to visit.
Before the U-turn of Reckong Peo, a village Tapri has a petrol pump on the road which shall not be missed at any cost for refueling because the next petrol pump is at Kaza on the way to Spiti.
Earlier, Powari used to have a petrol pump but that has gone inoperational in recent years. You can also get fuel or diesel or petrol at Reckong Peo as well.
Upper Kinnaur Valley | Kalpa – Namgia – Shipki La – Khab Bridge
You move from Kalpa via Reckong Peo towards Ribba, Akpa, Jangi, Spillow, Dubling, Puh, Khab Village, and further.
The road conditions between Reckong Peo to Ribba and Spillow to Dubling used to be generally bad in shape before 2018. However, no most of the road between Shimla and Kaza is a pretty decent condition/shape for any car including sedans & hatchbacks.
Puh is a major town where you can get various things from Puh General Store and there is a PWD rest house as well 4-5 km off the main road.
Akpa is a place where there was a major landslide that hit in 1995, killing about 100 including soldiers and alignment was changed with the construction of 350 feet Akpa bridge in 2006, a good 11 years after the landslide tragedy. There is also a stone near the bridge with the names of the fallen soldiers.
After Akpa as you move ahead, you need to register yourself at Lippa – Jangi Police Post. Again foreigners need to show their permits and Indians need to show valid photo identity proof.
Can I travel to Shipkil La Pass & get permits?
Getting to Shipki La is a different story as it is a pass that connects India and Tibet. The route to Shipki La comes before Nako or Ka Zigs (loops) and just before the Khab bridge (about 2 km), you will see a Y-Fork uphill going towards Khab Village – Namgia – Shipki La is about 40 km from the highway and then you are only allowed to go to Namgia village.
From Namgia Village, the road ascends to Shipki La and again a lot of things depend if the guys at the posts allow you to go there. Plus be ready for a good session of interrogations and all sought of gadgets packed in the bag including the camera because photography is strictly prohibited there.
I have known just a few guys who have done Shipki La, and one of them had a tough time with the ITBP guys who deposited all his electronic gadgets before allowing him to venture ahead. In return, he was allowed to take them back. So, it is quite an adventure, but again they both were bikers, and I am not sure how they will react seeing the car over there…
Namgia Dogri is your best bet for the view of Reo Purgyal Peak but as a civilian, you will be allowed up to Namgia Village only. Villagers from Namgia can only go up to Dogri. But, you can get a view of Reo Purgyal from Khab Bridge as well 🙂
If you are interested to know more about the silk route in detail then better talk to some old people from villages like Namgia, Nako, Nesang, Dubling, and Chitkul villages.
Khab – Confluence of Spiti & Sutlej
Khab is a place where there is a bridge over the confluence of Spiti River and Sutlej River Just ahead of the bridge, you cross a section which is carved out of the mountain almost like a one wall tunnel 🙂 … Technically, Khab Bridge is not on Hindustan Tibet Road but NH-22 or NH-05.
Upper Kinnaur Valley | Khab – Nako – Malling Nalla – Chango – Sumdo
After Khab bridge, you feel out of the world, and then an ascend of Ka Loops takes you to one of the most picturesque villages in the world, Nako. It is also famous for its Nako Lake, a small lake with a beautiful backdrop – not to be missed.
As you move further, you meet the dreaded Malling Nalla, the most troublesome spot of the entire Hindustan Tibet Road. It is almost a landslide zone 24 X 7 X 365 🙂 … In monsoon time, your heart will pound like anything to cross over this section of the most treacherous road.
Once you cross Malling, then a steep descent will take you all the way down to Chango Village. Be careful about your descent as it is quite steep. Chango is a place where you see loads of Apple Orchards. Do not miss the chance to buy some golden apples or apricots, if possible or available.
Finally, you reach Sumdo and this is where you will see the signboard of “Welcome to Spiti Valley” and you exit Kinnaur Valley. At Sumdo, you need to register yourself again at the police check post as the region falls under the Inner Line permit zone or near LAC (Line of Actual Control) and Foreigners need to submit their copy permits at Sumdo.
Spiti Valley | Sumdo – Kaurik – Geyu Mummy – Tabo
Just ahead of Sumdo comes the most interesting part, the Y-Fork that leads you uphill to Kaurik. Kaurik is a mysterious place that was deserted some 25-28 years back in earthquake/flash floods and now you can find ruins of the place if you are ready to hike a bit once the road ends after about 19 km.
Beyond Kaurik, there is a village called Lepcha which requires you to further hike about an hour or so. Lepcha is the last place in Indian Himalayas you can reach and ahead lies Tibet beyond the Indo-Tibet Border ends. Anyhow, Kaurik falls under a restricted area as far as I know, and permits are hard to find for Kaurik.
So, the best bet is to land there and ask permission from army guys if you can pass through. If they say yes, then go ahead and explore this amazing mysterious place in Spiti Valley.
No permits are issued for Kaurik and Shipki La by any direct access. It may be possible with some contacts, but I haven’t heard anything about it. The best bet is to land there directly, and then you need to be lucky enough to assure the guy at the post that you will return without any trouble. You might find some accounts over the Internet that have done it this way only.
Though, not exactly on Hindustan Tibet Road or NH-5 (earlier called NH-22), I will still cover Geyu Village here as it is not far from Sumdo check post. When you further move ahead towards Tabo at NH-505 (earlier called SH-30) from Sumdo, there comes a diversion towards the right that takes you to Gyu Village.
Geyu Village is famous for its 500-year-old mummy which is present in this village. It will take you about 2 Hrs to visit Geyu from the diversion point.
Tabo – Dhankar – Lingti Valley – Rama Valley – Pin Valley – Kaza
I will be covering Tabo, Dhankar, Pin Valley, Lingti Valley, Rama Valley, Kaza in much more detail in an upcoming travel guide for Spiti Valley Local sightseeing. You can refer to some of the articles as below:
- Tabo – Dhangkar – Pin Valley Sightseeing
- Local Sightseeing around Kaza – Ki – Kibber
- Demul – A Homestay Hub of Spiti Valley
- Mudh – The Last Village of Pin Valley
- Lhalung Village – As raw and as remote
I hope the above details about the whole Hindustan Tibet Road would make your journey much more beautiful, fascinating and informational in terms of the context of Travel. If you have been on this breath-taking journey to Spiti Valley or will be undertaking it, please do share the information with us as well and help other travelers build knowledge about this at least once in a lifetime journey.
If you know your friends or family are planning a road trip to Kinnaur and Spiti, do share this article with them to help them make a memorable Kinnaur or Spiti Valley road trip.