Did you ever flip through a series of pictures and feel an unexplained connection, an instant urge to just pack your bags and get there.Sometime during mid- August, I was browsing through pictures of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and as I virtually traveled through the high mountains, suspended bridges and deep gorges, it was an instant connection of belonging. Nestled within the high Himalayas, the cold desert of Spiti was always on my wish list but it never materialized given the brief window for travel. I knew if I missed traveling in the next one month, it would be an agonizing wait for 9 more months.
The 3000 km journey from Bangalore to Kaza (district town in Spiti) was no flight of fancy and had 3 distinct travel segments. Bangalore to Delhi – Flight; Delhi to Manali – Bus; Manali to Kaza – shared Car or Bus. The key to my travel was a cheap air ticket from Bangalore to Delhi which was less than Rs 7000/-
Planning the Trip
I spoke to a few travel operators for a Spiti Travel Package but everyone had fixed departures that started and ended in the weekend. The flight tickets to and from Delhi to Bangalore during weekends turned out to be more expensive than the tour cost itself. After ruling out that option, I decided to travel solo and explore Spiti on my own. The ticket prices on the day of Ganesh Puja in early September which was a Monday was nearly half the price of the weekend. I got a cheap air ticket steal deal for my mid week travel which neatly fitted into my budget. My week long trip to Spiti was an experience to remember and everything just fell into place the way it was meant to be. I guess the invisible hand of Ganesha was dissolving all signs of obstacles with remarkable ease.
I spent a day in Manali on my way to Spiti exploring the many sightseeing spots in town and the ancient Hadimba Temple appealed to me. Old Manali is a café hot spot and some of them dish out lip smacking pastas, pizzas and pan cakes.
Spiti Valley can be approached from Manali during the months of June to September when the high mountain passes (Rohtang and Kumzum) are open. Spiti is not a destination but an experience. The day time temperatures are around 25 degrees C with night time temperatures falling below 10 degrees C. With the average height of villages and towns in Spiti anywhere between 3700-4400 metres, it is necessary to carry necessary medication and drink lots of water to counter symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). As I trekked through high mountain villages and drove through those treacherous roads, I realized the worth of infinite patience in daily life that the local Spitian has.
The sky is as blue as I have never seen; the kind that I have shaded with my crayons in my art book over the years.The untouched beauty of Spiti is slowly getting a touch of modernity. The small mud houses are giving way to stone structures.
Tourists from all over the world are thronging to Spiti to experience beauty in harsh weather conditions. The traditional ancient monasteries of Ki, Tabo, Dhankar which are almost 1000 years old with beautiful wall paintings related to Vajrayana Buddhism (Tibetan belief) exuding peace, calm and serenity are must visit places in Spiti. The short treks to picturesque places like Langza, Komic, Hikim and Pin Valley gives a peek into daily like. I have posted letters from the world’s highest post officein Hikkim ( 4440 metres) for memory and so must you to keep it going.
Almost everyone I met from the monks in the monastery to the ladies of the house offered me a cup of tea and wanted to know my story as much as I wanted to know theirs. Once again, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to explore yet another location in my country which further endorses how diverse a country we are. There is so much to do, so much to see, so much to feel and so little time.
Tips for Cheap Air Tickets
Many times our urges to travel are cut short by soaring air ticket prices. Everyone does not have the luxury of planning months in advance. These are few tips for Cheap Air Travel for the solo traveler.
- Plan a mid week travel and choose a off peak time during the day; eg; afternoon travel to and from large cities are cheaper since it is not a preferred time for business travelers.
- Choose end of season or beginning of season if not off season for travel
- Avoid long weekends and school holidays
- Tickets on Festival Days are cheaper unless you are choosing to travel to a place where all the action is. (Delhi and Mumbai during Diwali; and Kolkata during Durga Puja)