Spiti Valley - The Little Tibet or the Middle Land

spiti valley

We will discover the history and geological importance of Spiti Valley in this blog. Welcome to this intermediate country and its riddles; some of the knowledge is mind-boggling.

Spiti and Lahaul

Lahaul & Spiti is a breathtaking illustration of a cold, dry desert characterized by exposed rocks, steep hills, and constrained river basins. The jagged peaks of the Greater Himalayas, which divide the district from Tibet in the north and Ladakh in the west, and the Middle Himalayas, which divide the district from the remainder of Himachal Pradesh, dominate the valleys.


Spiti Valley

Bara shigri glacier

The glaciers that feed the Chandra, Bhaga, and Spiti rivers and their tributaries spread out from between these peaks. Some of these glaciers, like as the Bara Shigri Glacier and Samundri Glacier, which feed the Chandra River, are a trekker’s paradise. The Bara Shigri is the biggest glacier in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul Valley, measuring almost 28 km in length and several kilometers broad at its widest point. It has a view of the Chandra Valley and feeds the river with water. It is situated in a cirque on the central Himalayan range’s slopes. The main glacier is fed by smaller subsidiary glaciers. There is no vegetative cover on the entire area. This glacier is surrounded by high mountains on three sides. The impressive peaks of the Parvati headwaters can be seen all around, including White Sail, Indrasan, Kulu Makalu, and the Parbati peak itself farther up the range.

Spiti river

The Chandra and Spiti Rivers, as well as their tributaries, pass through the Lahaul and Spiti valleys, which span the larger Himalayas. The entire territory is a frigid desert with exposed rocks and jagged slopes that glare at onlookers.

Lahaul is frequently known to as the “land of lamas” because of the abundance of monasteries (gompas), the residences of lamas (Buddhist monks). The geography of Lahaul is dominated by tall peaks, constrained river basins, and enormous glaciers. The Chandra and Bhaga rivers, which form the Chandrabhaga/Chenab River at their confluence at Tandi, pass through a number of steep mountains around the valley. With connecting ranges to the east and west, the main Himalayas are in the north and the mid Himalayas are in the south. The tallest summit in the mountains, which reach heights of over 21,000 feet, is located at a mean elevation of 18000 feet. Bara Shigri, Chhota Shigri, Samundri, Sonapani, Gangstang, and Perad glaciers are a few of the well-known glaciers. The Rohtang Pass, which connects Lahaul with the Kullu area, serves as the entrance to Lahaul. The Spiti River and its tributaries cut through the valley before it joins the Sutlej near Khaab, hence the term Spiti (Tibetan: Spiti) signifies “middle land”: the territory between India and Tibet.

In terms of geography, temperature, and human settlement, Spiti is much more challenging than Lahaul, which is located next to it. With its own mountain ranges and a mean elevation of 4570 meters, Spiti is significantly different from the areas around it, less accessible, and less developed. Mountain ranges in Spiti are a part of the Great and Middle Himalayas. The mountain ranges are over 5,485 meters above sea level on average. The lowest points in the Spiti valley are significantly higher than 3,350 meters above sea level, whereas the Tsarab valley has a minimum height of roughly 4,270 meters. While the main Spiti valley and its tributaries enter the Indus, the drainage from the northern waste of Tsarab flows into the former.


Between the main Spiti river’s confluence with the Lingti and its junction with the Pare Chu, the Sham (lower area) is located on both banks of the river. On each side of the Pin River is Pin. The enigmatic Buzhen lamas, who are known for executing an unusual trance rite in which demons hidden in a rock are banished after a drawn-out ceremony in which the boulder is crushed on a monk’s chest, live in Pin and are the home of chaumurti horses. The Spiti valley between the point where Shillah Nullah meets the main river, roughly three kilometers above Kaza and Sham, is known locally as Bhar (middle area). The Kye Gompa, Spiti’s largest monastery, and the Serkhang of Lhalung in the Lingti valley, its second-most magnificent monastery, are both important to Bhar. All of the terrain above Bhar is considered to be part of the Tud (higher region). These settlements, including Hansa, Kyoto, and Losar, which are small but significant, have managed to retain the Spitians’ ancient way of life. If you are traveling through Spiti, it is simple to circumnavigate all of these areas. If you approach Spiti from Lahaul (through Manali), you first travel through the upper Tud area (Losar and Hansa), then the middle Bhar region (Kaza), and finally the lower Sham region (Dhankar and Tabo). You may visit the Pin area and get a chance to view it by taking a detour to the Pin Valley.


spiti valley

The Geological Survey of India and the Geological Society of America rank Spiti as one of the world’s regions with the greatest concentration of fossils.

The fossils discovered in the town of Langza in the frigid Spiti Valley at a height of around 4400 meters testify to the collision of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates that produced the Himalayas roughly 50 million years ago.

The fossils we discovered in Langza are from the late Jurassic Age, and they are around 150 million years old, according to Professor Rajeev Patnaik from the Department of Geology at Punjab University.

Numerous marine fossils from the region, including ammonites, terebratulids, belemnites, and oysters, were discovered in 2016.

The spiral-shelled marine carnivores known as ammonites became extinct some 65 million years ago, at the same time as the dinosaurs. They were known to reproduce often, which produced a significant amount of ammonite fossils.

Geologists have been drawn to the Spiti Valley since the 19th century, with pioneering palaeontological discoveries by Stoliczka in 1866 and Hayden in 1904.

Fossils abound in the valleys created by the Pin and Spiti rivers. Corals and fossils have also been discovered at Mudh and Guling in addition to Langza.

“Geologically the Langza section consists of Tagling (bedded limestone) and Spiti Formation (black shales), and ranges from the Lower to Upper Jurassic period,” according to the Himalayan Geology Division of the Geological Survey of India.

The fossils are collected by the Langza children, who then sell them to tourists as mementos.

The fossil in question is known locally as “chaudua” and is widely distributed in and around the settlement. Cephalopod fossils are present.

A trip to Langza would not be complete without a fossil hunt; the best places to explore for these fossils are higher up in the mountains of Langza.

Tsonyeti and Chumo Tso are two further high-altitude lakes near Langza. Due to the region’s low oxygen content and high altitude, the 3–4-hour journey to these lakes from the hamlet may be challenging for tourists.


The geological history of Spiti must be considered in order to comprehend its ecosystem. The Tethys Sea, which formerly divided the Asian mainland from the continent of Gondwana, was where Spiti is now located. The tectonic plates brushed against each other as the latter moved in the direction of the former, and the motions of the earth’s crust raised the Tethys sea’s intermediate ground. The larger Himalayas climbed through time to create the current dry environment, the sea dried up, and the terrain of Spiti transformed into a geologist’s paradise.

In comparison to four of the world’s largest deserts, including those in Patagonia, Turkistan, western and south-western North America, and the Gobi, the cold desert of Spiti may be too little. But it is one of the most economically depressed regions on earth due to its steep mountains, harsh environment, and impoverished populace. However, Ladakh, another mountain desert in the area, is in a separate state. Along with other natural gifts, Ladakh is known for its fruit-laden slopes and verdant meadows, which are paradises for animals.


Although some linguistic study has attempted to establish connections with the central Indian Mundas, it remains unknown where the Spiti people originated. The first records of the existence of a Hindu monarchy date to the seventh century AD. However, Buddhism had firmly established itself as the predominant religion by the eleventh century, after Guge (Western Tibet)’s establishment of its governmental and cultural dominance over this region. Dogras led by Jorawar Singh seized control of Spiti in 1841, which was thereafter attacked by Sikh marauders. Spiti was one of the districts given up to the Dogras in 1846 as a result of the first Anglo-Sikh War, but the British later traded it for other territory, making it a part of British India until independence.


The flora and wildlife of Lahaul and Spiti have developed to withstand the harsh conditions of this frigid alpine desert’s high altitude, low oxygen environment.

Flora: Grass, tiny shrubs including hippophae, rosa, ephedra, salix, artemesia, and potentilla, and short, stunted trees make up the majority of the vegetation of Spiti. Because the entire valleys are covered in snow for six months out of the year and there is seldom any rainfall, the flora in the region is exceedingly limited. Willow and poplar plantations have been planted recently around hamlets and along the sides of the rivers as part of attempts to green the valley. Around Hurling, Poh, Tabo, Shichling, Kaza, Lossar, and Pin valley, one may find good mangroves. Additionally, Spiti is abundant in uncommon medicinal plants and herbs. These plants and herbs can in up to 400 different types, according to the valley.

Fauna: The Himalayan blue sheep (Bharal, also known as Nabu locally), Himalayan fox, snow wolf, red fox, Tibetan woolly hare, and Kokar, a rodent the size of a porcupine, are the most often encountered creatures in the fauna. The most popular game animal among the Spitians is the Himalayan Ibex, sometimes referred to as Tangrol locally. Large flocks of Himalayan ibises are not uncommon to encounter when hiking, especially in the upper altitudes beyond Mikkim and Thango villages in the Pin valley. In the upper regions of the Pin valley, there is a terrifying animal known as the snow leopard, also known locally as Jhaptu or Shin. This gorgeous cat occasionally descends to human residences in quest of prey, such as a goat or a sheep, endangering the inhabitants. Weasels, marmots, and snow rabbits may all be found in the valley. In Spiti, reptiles and snakes are essentially nonexistent. However, several lizards as well as some wheat-gray and yellowish snakes have apparently been observed in the valley below Lari. The Himalayan snow cock, Chukor, Partridges, hill pigeons, red brown crows, red robins, griffins, vultures, blue rock pigeons, snow pigeons, and Choughs are just a few of the birds that call the Lahaul and Spiti valley home. Siberian migratory ducks use Spiti as a nesting location in the summer before migrating south to warmer climates in the winter.


The Top 18 Activities In Spiti Valley For A Fantastic Day...

What makes the Spiti Valley renowned? The Spiti Valley is renowned for its scenic landscapes and rich cultural history. One of Spiti's most well-known sights is Tabo Monastery. Spiti's monasteries are well-known for their magnificent paintings, historic temples, and many stupas.

Not just because of the lovely weather, but also because there are less tourists, the summer months of March to June are said to be the finest for visiting Spiti. The best time to visit Spiti is from October to February if you're looking for that ideal winter getaway.

Depending on the circuit, how many days you intend to stay there, and the type of lodging and food options you select, Spiti valley trekking might cost you anywhere from INR 5000 to 50,000.

Which Is Better: Ladakh or Spiti, According to Vargis Khan

The Trip's Nature What sort of trip do you wish to take is the next and maybe most crucial step. Spiti and Ladakh each have an own set of charms, but Ladakh has a little bit more to offer. Ladakh is the greatest option if you want a lengthy list of tourist sites and a ton of things to do.

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