A trip to the Himalayas is a dream-come-true for every traveller. Youths, particularly, would certainly wish to cover the heights on bikes at least once in their lifetime and the treacherous as well as beautiful Kinnaur - Spiti Valley route offers the ideal challenge for such adventure seekers.
In contrast to the Ladakh region, the places on Kinnaur - Spiti road are almost deserted. That makes a bike trip along the vacant roads that touch hamlets free of a touristy character a peaceful affair.
Several noted Buddhist monasteries and temples are located on the route. They include Tabo and Dhankar monasteries and the Bhimakali Temple at Sarahan, where time stands still.
This stretch, also known as the Hindustan - Tibetan road, is considered one of the most dangerous on earth but it offers stunning views of the picturesque Himalayan forests.
Another attraction is the unique dishes prepared by the local people in the area. Some of these delicacies are, black pea hummus, Spiti special falafel, a special pasta called 'Q', tupta, momos, pancake and special peas curry, among others. Most of these items are made with locally grown farm produce. Moreover, the famed butter tea of Ladakh is available here also.
Fossil village and mummy
A must-see destination near Kaza is Langza, an excellent camping spot which is well-known for the presence of fossils. Interestingly, several fossils found in this place up in the mountains belong to marine creatures. Termed the ‘Fossil village of Spiti’, Langza is a village of around 200 residents but has a number of homestays for travellers.
The village of Giu is yet another place of interest on the Kinnaur - Spiti Valley route. Here, a Buddhist monk sits in a meditative pose with a string of prayer beads in his hand. However, the monk - a lama - is a mummy believed to be at least 500 years old. Local people consider this monk to be alive and immersed in deep meditation, pointing out that the figure had grown hair and nails recently.
Also along the route is Hikkim, at an altitude of 4,400 m, where one of the world’s highest post offices is situated. This post office has the distinction of being open round the year, which is rare among such facilities in high altitudes. There is also a tradition among travellers coming this way from Kaza to buy post cards from the post office and send it to their dear ones around the world.
The area is related to the Mahabharata legend also, thanks to Chandra Taal, a lake in the shape of the moon (Chandra). According to local lore, the Pandava king Yudhishtira ascended to heaven on the chariot of Indra, the king of gods, from this spot.
A motorable road is available till five km away from Chandra Taal, a beautiful lake with water of a bluish-green colour, and the remaining distance has to be trekked on foot.