Updated the article as on 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 Sino-Indian border in Himachal Pradesh. Similarly, the road connecting Kaza – Tabo from Sumdo is now called as NH505 instead of State Highway – 30. Article has been updated with these name changes.
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…
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 5 (earlier called 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 NH5, 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 & NH5
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 & NH5:
NH5 starts at Firozpur in Punjab and runs through Moga, Ludhiana, Kharar, Kalka to Shipki La border 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.
NH5 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 Shipki 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 NH5.
From Sumdo police post (starting point of Spiti Valley), the State Highway – 30 (SH – 30 or NH505 (recently renamed)) leads you all the way to Tabo and then Kaza NH5 runs right uphill from a Y – Fork just after police checkpost leading you towards Kaurik. The left road leads you on SH – 30 / NH505 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 (Check more details on inner line permits for 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, NH5 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 / NH 505 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…
Bottom line is that, you will be partially running over the Hindustan Tibet Road and partially over the NH5 in order to Travel to Spiti Valley from Shimla side. Now, we have some background of the differences between NH5 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 & NH5, 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 & NH5 | Interesting Places