Lahaul valley is the newest winter-wonder that has become far more accessible to tourism, thanks to the inauguration of Atal Tunnel. Lying on the other side of the Rohtang Pass, Lahaul is truly stunning. Though, it was most often combined with the overall circuit of Lahaul and Spiti in the years passed – there is plenty and more to do here on its own. Especially if you’re pressed for time, but, want to experience the joy of arid mountains of similar terrains as Spiti and Ladakh – Lahaul is the place to beat.
Situated only 33 KMs from Manali, along the Manali – Leh highway, the valley starts from the other end of Atal Tunnel, which acts as a bridge between Manali and Lahaul. Earlier, in order to reach Lahaul, one needed to travel through Rohtang pass. However, if pass is infamous for its touristy activities and thus, a lot of traffic. Sometimes, it could even take you 4+ hours to navigate through the traffic issues.
Lahaul-Spiti is the largest district of Himachal Pradesh in terms of area. The headquarter of Lahaul is Keylong, situated about 72 Kms from Manali.
Lahaul is clubbable with your Manali plans now, thanks to Atal Tunnel. You’ll need to be prepared a bit, however, as acclimatization can be an issue when visiting many parts of the valley. However, before we go into the meat of the article, let me re-share the background of Lahaul Valley from my previous article.
Before we dive into the day-to-day plans – here are some key distances you should be aware of!
Distance Delhi to Bhuntar 490 Kms
Bhuntar to Manali 52 Kms
Manali to Sissu 40 Kms
Sissu to Keylong 30 Kms
Keylong to Udaipur 54 Kms
Keylong to Jispa 23 Kms
Jispa to Barlachala 52 Kms
Baralacha to Sarchu 32 Kms
Let us look at this plan, most recommended if you’ve 9 days of travel time.
Catch an overnight bus from ISBT to Delhi. Many public transport buses leave ISBT, Delhi for an overnight journey to Bhuntar.
Volvo/Mercedes buses will be available starting INR 1500.
You’ll reach in the morning, check in to your hotel (I suggest staying near Hadimba Temple). Rest up and go out to explore Manali. Particularly heading to Mall Road, old Manali. Enjoy the cuisine and head out to small cafes etc. You can even go shopping for some local handicraft. A must have – Himalayan Trout!
Solang Valley, Naggar, Aleo are all great places to go see. If you’re headed to Solang Valley, I personally suggest stopping by at Café 1947’s new location (it is a beauty!). As an added bonus, the food is great too.
Today is the day you enter Lahaul Valley. Leave from Manali early in the morning and head towards Atal Tunnel. Crossing the tunnel takes you in to the Lahaul area. Suddenly the scenery is completely evolved and you’re now in the lap of massive mountains with intimidating beauty. Up to Keylong, you’ll still be immersed in especially lush mountains. However, as you’re reaching Jispa – you’ll start seeing the more arid mountains, synonymous with Spiti and Ladakh.
Today’s day is not taking you directly to Jispa. You’ll be stopping at multiple places and enjoying many pit stops. While I have covered the places to see in detail, along with their significance – some of the stops must include – Sissu Waterfall, Labrang Gompa (trek of 3 KMs), Shashur Gompa, and exploring Jispa.
Overnight stay at Jispa. Hopefully this will ensure you don’t suffer from AMS the next day.
This is my favourite day of the trip. From Jispa, you’ll touch many beautiful places include Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal, Zing-Zing Bar and then the ever mighty Baralacha-la. Must stop at Zing-Zing bar and do get some lip-smacking (and hot!) garlic-tomato soup and Maggi. Garlic is known to help with regulating oxygen and combat symptoms of AMS – so drink up!
Baralacha-La is stunning. I have no words to describe the beauty and the sheer impact this place will have. I have tried to describe the magnitude of ethereal exquisiteness of the region. Overnight stay at Sarchu in camps. Personally, Sarchu was especially difficult for me (I didn’t stay overnight at Jispa. I highlight this to ensure you truly understand the magnitude of AMS and how it is something that must be factored in when travelling to far-flung places in the Himalayas.
Return back to Keylong at a leisurely pace today, stay at Keylong and cover some of the things you missed when you crossed here first.
Enter the west of Lahaul today – i.e. the Pattan valley. Least explored regions of Lahaul – Pattan is stunning!!! Lots of religious places in this region, which signifies the amalgamation of religions and cultures in the hills! Some of the places worth exploring include Mrikula Devi Mata temple, Triloknath Temple.
Overnight Stay at Udaipur
Get on foot today and head to the isolated Miyar Valley. Miyar valley takes you close to the stunning landscape of Zanskar and you’ll have access to some tiny villages of Tingrit, Urgos, Shukto etc.
Overnight stay at Udaipur
Ending of the trip is always melancholy. Day to head back home. Pack up your stuff and make your way back. If you’re travelling by your own car, try to cover as much distance after Manali as possible Great options (depending on the time you’re reaching) include Kullu, Bhuntar and Mandi.
This will act as a buffer day to be kept in case of road closure due to landslides or snowfall or perhaps you want to enjoy more (always a must!)
Absolutely! But, you will face a hectic schedule and limited explorations. I prefer to enjoy the hills at a leisurely pace – keep my eyes and heart open. Especially when visiting a brand new play, I fully understand I won’t be able to cover it all. But, I still want to absorb the self-reflection that the Himalayas induce. However, it is only realistic to not get a lot of days off from work, or even just wanting to escape for a few days to rewind the clock. Here’s a breakup for your days –
0/ 1 Day | Delhi – Chandigarh – Bhuntar- Manali
2 Day | Explore Manali – Atal Tunnel – Sissu – Jispa
3 Day | Jispa – Suraj Tal, Deepak Tal – Baralacha-la – Keylong (night stay)
4 Day | Keylong – Manali – Mandi
5 Day |Mandi – Chandigarh – Delhi
Lahaul valley temperature remains pleasant through most of the year except winters. In winters, from October to April period is the season of snow and hence, Lahaul temperature plummet to sub-zero. This might seem like a deterrent, but, you can participate in a ton of winter activities including skiing. What’s even more amazing is that Lahaul is untouched by tourism and you’ll get to enjoy near-virgin peaks and ski to your heart’s delight.
However, if you’ve not experienced such cold before, you will need to be prepared for such winter temperatures. And, add to that the added difficulty of AMS. Also, it is best to avoid the area in the monsoon months – given how prone the hills are to landslides. I, myself, have been stuck at Keylong, mere 80 KMs from Manali – for over 10 + hours due to a massive landslide, for which Army needed to be called! So, do remember to keep buffer days in your itineraries for sure. Especially if you’re a novice traveller – it can be overwhelming to deal with landslides.
However, for the rest of the year, you will find favourable road conditions and temperatures in Lahaul.
Taxis to Lahaul Valley are available from Bhuntar as well as Manali. There are many cab aggregators that will provide you outstation rides for the duration of the trek, if you’re planning on exploring the hills in the earnest – having your own car is not necessary at all – in fact it might be a headache for when you’re exploring the hills. The costing may be anywhere around INR 20,000 depending on the number of days of the trip (as of 2020). In general, these local drivers charge from Rs 3000-3500 per day.
Serene views, untouched beauty, stunning silence of the hills – do I need to get into this more? I love Lahaul for all that it has to offer. You will fall in love with her too. If the idea of serenity, natural exquisiteness and tranquility excite your senses – then without a doubt – go and explore the magical Lahaul Valley.
This region is something I am so excited that the world is getting to experience! While I do have one humble (and constant) request – please don’t litter when in the hills, please ensure the residents are not burdened due to tourism. Apart from this, I hope I have done enough in the previous posts as well as this one to ensure all regions of Lahaul are covered in our section on the Valley – please do drop a comment below and let us know if we should be exploring some new region here. Always happy to have your feedback on the articles.
This post was last modified on Jul 18, 2021 17:50
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