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Spiti Valley Images – Pictures No-One Puts On Instagram

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Spiti Valley Images Showing the Real Spiti

Snow-capped peaks, inky sky, copper mountains, creamy cubicle homes, lean Spitians jostling around, and fat sheep and cows — this is Spiti Valley Himachal, one of the remotest valleys in the Indian Himalayas.

People have been clicking pictures of Spiti valley for decades. But since the advent of social media, Spiti Valley images have flocked to all Indians’ and foreigners’ Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Maroon-robed monks (mostly young) jumping on the swirling roads. Himalayan peaks standing tall and a river swiftly snaking in front of them. Icy summits with creamy Spitian villages in front. Selfies with Spitian women on the road. Key Monastery standing tall. Pictures in front of the dominant mountains. A few close-ups of flat-roofed Spiti homes.

We have seen all of the above Spiti images. But the more natural, unposed, and truthful Spiti valley photos don’t make it to Instagram. Perhaps the silence that envelops the stunning Spiti and the isolated Spitian life is too much to handle even in pictures.

road+to+spiti+valley spiti pictures
Enroute Spiti

I traveled from Manali to Spiti in a shared tempo traveler and stayed in the valley for a week, alone (I’ve linked the travel narrative of my Spiti trip above). During that week, I hitchhiked to remote Spitian villages, stayed in home stays, cooked chapatis with young Spitian girls, spent time in monasteries, hiked up to the pea farms with families, used pit toilets, and celebrated the birthday of Dalai Lama in the key monastery.

In these 63 Spiti Valley pictures, I’ve tried to show a little bit of the struggle and the beauty of Spitian life. Hope you enjoy the photographs.

Let me take you for a walk in Spiti through these Spiti Images

Getting to Spiti


On the way from Manali to Spiti. The terrain becomes harsh and rocky once you cross Rohtang Pass, a popular destination from Manali.

buffaloes+kunzum+pass Spiti valley images himachal+india

Yaks and buffaloes clicked from a distance. This is probably one of the very few herds of cattle that we saw the entire way from Manali to Spiti.

A little girl playing alone outside the village of Lossar, Spiti valley. On the way to Kaza.

Once in Kaza.

kaza spiti pictures himachal+india
Kaza – the main village of Spiti- has a population of only about 5000. Maybe slightly more now.
doors+of+Spiti+valley+himachal+india spiti valley pics
Doors of Spiti mostly remain shut. During the day people are either working on the farms, guiding tourists, or taking care of some other sustenance chore. Another simple construction in Spiti
Village of Kaza, Spiti district.
Block-like Spitian homes.
The mud bricks used to construct houses. The mud keeps the house cold in summers and warm in winters.
Can we make Spiti plastic-free?
I didn’t buy a water bottle and used my Lifestraw bottle that comes pre-fitted with a filter. But my stomach got upset with the Spiti water. Water in Spiti is hard and can spoil even the strongest stomachs, said my host grandmother. I had to buy Bisleri bottles. Several initiatives are going on to keep Spiti clean. One alternate solution to bottles is that water can be boiled for drinking. But how easy is the supply of gas up there in the mountains? Are solar heaters being used to boil water? These are some of the questions to be asked and answered.

village+kaza spiti valley images himachal pradesh+india

One of my Instagram images of Spiti valley. Near the river in Kaza.

On the riverside in Kaza.

The last two are probably the prettiest of the Kaza images I’ve.

Traveling Within Spiti Valley


The formidable Spiti valley forces the people to stay indoors for at least four months of severe winter. But villagers do go out to carry water from the main sources to bring to their homes in cans. They also go to shop for supplies in Kaza village and walk back to their village since buses don’t work in the winter. This Spiti Valley picture definitely gives a glimpse into the vast terrains of the valley.

Chicham bridge as seen from the road towards Chicham village.
Chicham bridge is not the world’s (as wrongly assumed) but Asia’s highest bridge.
The bus conductor had never gotten down at the bridge before. So here he is walking about when the driver stopped the bus for me to see the bridge.
Arriving at Chicham village. Lahaul and Spiti.

In Chicham Village, Spiti


A Spitian mud house, Chicham. Homes of Spiti are closed and compact to protect from the cold. Walls are thick to insulate from the weather outside. This is one of the simplest Spiti photos I’ve.

Vegetables are grown in greenhouses.
Even in summers, Spiti was cold. At night we all sat watching television, making momos, and then having a quiet dinner.
Stone stairs leading up to the first floor of the Chicham house. Most Spitian homes have two floors.
Chicham village, Spiti. My host was a bit sick then. But she was still trying to entertain me, aka her guest. She told me she couldn’t go to her daughter’s dance performance in her school in Kaza for she would have to also stop at the Key gompa on the way. Otherwise, she would be penalized. She didn’t have the strength to visit both places.

spiti+women+making+momos+chicham+lahual+and+Spiti+valley+himachal+indiaBut here she was the night before helping her neighbor make vegetable momos with pure cow ghee.

On the way to Key Monastery to celebrate Dalai Lama’s birthday

Villagers go to the Key monastery for celebrating Dalai Lama’s birthday.
Key monastery. I didn’t see many people of Spiti casually hugging each other or holding hands. The physical distance amongst people is unusual. But look at these two girls.
A child running freely out of Key Gompa.
Preparations for celebrating Dalai Lama’s birthday in Key monastery, Key.
An elder monk initiated the prayers
Other monks joined in.
Key Gompa.
The box-like structures serving as monks’ dormitories stand a bit estranged from each other. The rooms are like this for the monastery has been destroyed many times and the renovations have made them so loose-fit.
The formidable and the saint, in the same frame.
You wouldn’t have seen this side of Key monastery in photos. The popular picture of the monastery is from the other side. I was, sort of, lost in the Key Gompa. I was searching for a toilet. But one room leads to another and then a small rugged stoned pathway in the open and then other rooms. This structure goes on and on.

Returning to Chicham village

Chicham village and my new host lady. I returned to Chicham from Key in a monk’s car. He had his car full. But when I asked for a lift, he got down, rearranged stuff in his vehicle, and made space for me. Together we went to this lady’s home where we all sat around in the visitor’s room and had tea. Later I ended up staying there.
The purple flowers in the photo are edible and quite sweet. Suck on the juice and throw the rest. My second host lady was older but healthier than the first host (at the moment). She showed me around her house, hills, and farms.
Pea farms above Chicham. Only pea grows easily in the high mountains of Spiti. Villagers have been allocated the same fields for a long time. Some of them hike up for an hour or two to reach their farms every morning and evening.
A painting or a photo.
There weren’t many dogs in the higher villages of Spiti (dogs inhabited Kaza freely though). People of Spiti didn’t seem very dog-friendly either – they do have a dog or two wandering around whom they might feed from time to time. But most families threw a stone at the dog or shooed it away. Like most old-time Indians, Spitians think of dogs as watch guards, not pets or something to hold dear and cuddle. Look how royal, pretty, and fierce this one is. But my host kept sending him away.
Spiti women sitting around a “devta” or a god. Chicham village. The arrival of the devta was announced from the top of the village monastery the same morning.
Most of the people in Spiti are Buddhists.
The devta/god is the one in the black jacket. Chicham village.
Cow ghee, milk, and rice liquor were offered to the Devta (god).
Spiti means the land between India and Tibet. The time the devta visited was a leisure time for village women for they could finally leave their chores and sit with each other and chat.
The little girl and her little acts.
While outside.

Getting to Kibber Village

The entry to Kibber village, Spiti. Roads are often blocked by construction workers. Driving around in an HRTC bus could take more time than expected.
Monastery in Kibber. The monastery is the highest place in the village.
From the top of the Kibber monastery
Snow leopard makes Spiti a popular destination for wildlife lovers.

Demul Village, Spiti Valley

On the way to Demul village. It is hard to spot the Himalayan deer among the vegetation. Near Demul.
Even with a big lens, I couldn’t capture them well. Himalayan deer.
Demul village. I clicked the picture in black and white just to see how all of that glory would be without colors. Still pretty glorious I would say.
demul+rooftop+spitian+homes+Spiti+india Lahaul Spiti pics.
Bundles of straw were kept on the rooftops of Spitian homes. This would come in handy in the winter to feed the livestock, to lay under them, and perhaps to even add a bit to the wood fire. Village of Demul.
Sheep of Demul village.
Children start helping their parents at an early age. Demul village. This fifteen-year-old girl could hike mountains alone, milk cows, work on the farm, make thick chapatis, and cook curries too.
Morning breakfast could be thick bread. Or this might be packed to bring to the farm later for lunch.

Returning from Spiti to Manali via Kunzum Pass

Kunzum pass. Prayer flags and monks are the most colorful in Spiti.
Rohtang pass. This popular tourist destination from Manali is crowded in June and July. But further up from Rohtang is where the scene changes.
Close up of the snow accumulated on the road and the mountains taken from the car. Manali to Spiti road is paved clean for cars for only a couple of months.
My favorite girl, the one person I remember the most from Spiti for she didn’t care about any rules and hugged me tightly whenever she saw me. One can use a lot of hugs in a remote place like Spiti.

If I had to choose one, I will choose the above photo as my Spiti Valley wallpaper.

Where to stay in Spiti?

Either go to Booking and find a well-rated guesthouse or read through my Spiti travelogue to find out how the homestay system works in Spiti. I’ve written about the best homestay in Kaza in the article too.

I also suggest reading this beautiful story written by a Spitian Sonam Yangzom about the history of Spiti. She has many more stories from the Spiti valley on her account so indulge if you can.

Traveling in Parvati valley – Finding remote villages & running away from the crowd

Pangna Village of Mandi district will blow your mind away with its history

Pushkar Photography Tour – Pictures of the real Pushkar

Peru in Pictures – Everyday pictures of Peru with poetry

Did you like these images of Spiti Valley? Which is your favorite Spiti Valley photo?

Pin this photo essay on Spiti to share with the world!



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5 thoughts on “Spiti Valley Images – Pictures No-One Puts On Instagram”

  1. Beautifully written and brought the pics to live through lens, dear Priyanka. I would love to explore this amazing place near soon when I travel back to India. Could you please tell your experience on solo travelling or if there is any articles on it, please do let me know? Thank you. Keep up the wonderful work ?

  2. Wow. I am speechless. Beautiful photos and stories. I want to experience Spiti one day, first time I ever heard of it. Thank you for the art in your words. I especially loved the photo of the back of the two little girls holding hands. Reminded me of my sister and I growing up. Such a sweet moment. I can only imagine the other little girl hugging you every time she saw you. The innocence and quick affection of a child… something every adult needs more of.

    • Hey Vanessa. Thank you for reading like always. When you are on your next trip to India, please go there. Those two girls were sweet. And the little one that kept coming back to me was just wow. if only we could give that child-like affection to each other without being too selfish 🙂


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