Spiti in Photos – The Pictures that Instagram Won’t Let You See

Snow-capped peaks, inky sky, copper mountains, creamy cubicle homes, lean Spitians jostling around, and a few sheep and cow — this is Spiti Valley, one of the remotest valley of the Indian Himalaya.

Spiti is indeed a bucket list destination for many millennials and older travelers alike. Some say their dream came true when they visited Lahaul and Spiti.

Spiti valley photography isn’t a new trend. People have been clicking pictures of Spiti for decades. Occasionally you would see Indians and foreigners posting gorgeous Spiti images on their Instagram account.

Young maroon-clothed monks jumping on the road. Himalayan peaks standing tall and a river swiftly shifting in front of them. Icy summits with a white Spitian village in front. A selfie with a Spitian woman on the road. Key Monastery standing tall. Pictures of self in front of dominant mountains. A few close-ups of flat-roofed homes of Spiti.

We have seen this all. But most of the Spiti valley photos don’t even make it to Instagram.

The nothingness that envelops the stunning Spiti and the isolated Spitian life is too much to handle sometimes. Even in pictures.

I went to Spiti from Manali and traveled in the valley for a week, alone.

During that one-week, I traveled to remote Spitian villages, stayed in homestays throughout, cooked chapatis with young Spitian girls, hung out with the women of Spiti in their homes and paid visit to their religious gods, hiked up to their pea farms, used pit toilets, celebrated the birthday of Dalai Lama in the key monastery, and clicked pictures.

These 63 Spiti Valley images will not only show you Spitian life, but I have also tried to capture the silence of Spiti.

Also Read: My Spiti valley travel blog for practical tips to visit Spiti

 

Let me take you for a walk in Spiti through these Spiti Valley pictures.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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Enroute to Spiti.

 

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

 

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Kaza – the main village of Spiti- has a population of only about 5000. Maybe slightly more now.

 

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Doors of Spiti mostly remain shut. During the day people are either working in the farms or gone with tourists or doing some other work.

 

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Village of Kaza, Spiti district.

 

 

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A Spitian mud house. Homes of Spiti are closed and compact to protect from the cold.

 

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The formidable Spiti valley forces the people to stay indoors for at least 4 months of severe winter.

 

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Chicham bridge as seen from the road towards Chicham village.

 

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Chicham bridge is not the world’s (as wrongly assumed) but Asia’s highest bridge.

 

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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.

 

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Arriving to Chicham village. Lahaul and Spiti.

 

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Greenhouses are the only way to grow vegetables.

 

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You cannot take plastic out of Spiti for tourists buy a lot of bottles. I didn’t buy a water bottle and used my Lifestraw, but my stomach went bad. Water in Spiti is hard and upsets even the strongest stomachs. So eventually I had to buy Bisleri. When its hard for tourists to even reach Spiti, how do locals discard this plastic? Several initiatives are going on.

 

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Even in summers, Spiti was cold.

 

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Stone stairs leading up to the first floor of the house. Most of the homes have two floors.

 

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Chicham village, Spiti.

 

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Villagers going to the Key monastery for celebrating Dalai Lama’s birthday. A sick lady told me she can’t see her daughter dance in a celebration in Kaza village for she would have to also stop at the gompa, otherwise, she would be penalized. She didn’t have the strength to visit both places.

 

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But here she was the night before helping her neighbor make vegetable momos with pure cow ghee.

 

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Key monastery. I didn’t see many people of Spiti casually hugging each other or holding hands. The physical distance amongst people is unusual.

 

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A child running freely out of Key Gompa.

 

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Preparations for celebrating Dalai Lama’s birthday in Key monastery, Key.

 

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An elder monk initiating the celebration.

 

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Other monks joining in.
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Key Gompa.

 

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The box-like structures serving as monks dormitories have come up this way for the many times the Key monastery has been recovered after getting destroyed.

 

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The formidable and the saint, In the same frame.

 

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You wouldn’t have seen this side of Key monastery in photos. The popular picture of the monastery is from the other side.

 

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Chicham village and my host lady.

 

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These purple flowers that you see in the photo are edible. Suck on the juice and throw the rest. Sweet in taste.

 

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Pea farms above Chicham. Nothing else grows there. Villagers have been allocated the fields for a long time and they sometimes hike up for an hour or two to reach their fields. Every morning and evening.

 

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A painting or a photo.

 

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There weren’t many dogs. People of Spiti didn’t seem very dog-friendly either.

 

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Spiti women sitting around a “devta” or a god. Chicham village.

 

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Most of the people in Spiti are Buddhists.

 

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The god is the one you see in the front wearing a black jacket. Chicham village.

 

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Cow ghee, milk, and rice liquor offered to the Devta (god).

 

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Spiti means the land between India and Tibet.

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While outside.

 

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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.

 

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Block-like Spitian homes.

 

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The mud bricks that are used to construct houses. The mud keeps the house cold in summers and warm in winters.

 

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Monastery in Kibber. The monastery is the highest place in the village.

 

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From the top of Kibber monastery.

 

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Snow leopard makes Spiti a popular destination for wildlife lovers.

 

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Demul village.

 

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The rooftop of Spitian homes has this collection of straw. Village of Demul.

 

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It is hard to spot the Himalayan deer in this one. Near Demul.

 

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Even with my lens, I could not capture them well. Himalayan deer.

 

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Sheep of Demul village.

 

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Children start helping their parents at an early age. Demul village. This fifteen-year-old girl could hike mountains alone, milk cow, work on the farm, make chapatis and other food.

 

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Morning breakfast could be a thick bread. Or this might be packed to bring to the farm later for lunch.

 

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Kunzum pass. Prayer flags and monks are the most colorful in Spiti.

 

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Rohtang pass. This popular tourist destination from Manali is crowded in the months of June and July. But further up from Rohtang is where the scene changes.

 

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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.

 

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One of my Instagram images of Spiti valley.

 

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On the riverside in Kaza.

 

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My favorite girl, the one person I remember the most from Spiti for she didn’t care about any rules of the valley and hugged me promptly whenever she saw me.

 

Also see: My Pushkar Photography Tour

 

Did you like these Spiti Valley pics?

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

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2 Comments

  1. Vanessa Carreon Ochoa August 19, 2019 at 11:50 am

    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.

    Reply
    1. Priyanka Gupta August 19, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      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 🙂

      Reply

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