In this article, let’s take a look at how you can reach Spiti valley from Jaipur. If you are an avid reader of my travelogues you would know that I went to the Lahaul Spiti tour on my Enfield this month. In that article, I laid out 13 petrol pumps where you can get fuel for your vehicle in Spiti Valley.
The route till Chandigarh is a common one, so if you are coming from Delhi or Jaipur, you will have to reach Chandigarh.
You can do Spiti valley from Jaipur two ways. I am listing both the routes and their pros and cons.
Before jumping to the routes let me list down all the places where you can stay and spend time in peace once you cross Chandigarh. Also, listing the distance from Chandigarh to these places. Just click any place listed below to jump on the Google map.
- Solan is 70 Km from Chandigarh
- Shimla 113 Km from Chandigarh
- Kufri 127 Km from Chandigarh
- Theog 141 Km from Chandigarh
- Shilaru 161 Km from Chandigarh
- Narkanda 173 Km from Chandigarh
- Rampur Bushahr 230 Km from Chandigarh
- Wangtu 289 Km from Chandigarh
- Tapri 304 Km from Chandigarh
- Sangla 324 Km from Chandigarh
- Chitkul 347 Km from Chandigarh
- Reckong Peo 328 Km from Chandigarh
- Kalpa 335 Km from Chandigarh
- Nako 420 Km from Chandigarh
- Tabo 461 Km from Chandigarh
- Kaza 490 Km from Chandigarh
- Chandrataal 637 Km from Chandigarh
- Manali 748 Km from Chandigarh taking the Shimla route
The above-listed places are the major ones and I am sure that are many small villages that are beautiful too. Having said that travellers prefer to cover these at least when going to Spiti.
Modes of transport to reach Spiti valley from Jaipur
There are 3 ways to travel in modern times. By road, by train and by air. Let me give you a clear idea about these modes of transport and which one is the best.
The most preferred way to reach Spiti valley from Jaipur is by road. If you have a family or if you are a biker who loves riding in the mountains this is the preferred way. The only con that I can think of is getting tired after a long drive or a ride. I did this circuit on my Enfield and it was lovely.
Although I did have some back trouble because the route was long but it was worth it. You can stop anywhere you like and create your schedule or leave and arrive at a place unlike other modes of transport.
The road conditions are excellent. We took the Narnaul Ambala expressway i.e. Highway 152 D from Jaipur, and after reaching Himanchal the roads are amazingly maintained by ITBP and BRO. Some patches are bad but hey that’s the whole idea of going to the Spiti valley. Riding on those adventurous roads.
Firstly, there is no direct train to Shimla. You will have to reach Kalka and from there you can take a meter gauge train. There are 3-4 trains daily from Kalka to Shimla and vice-versa. Shivalik Express is a luxury Deluxe Train on this route with fewer halts and pantry facilities. Check out the train timetable here.
Once you reach Shimla you will be dependent on buses that have their schedule so you will have to align your schedule with the bus timings. I can’t do that and hence always prefer my vehicle on the valley roads.
I am not saying this mode is bad, some folks love travelling by train and I am sure I would do that as well in future but considering the tight schedule I was on, the road was a preferred medium.
There is no airport after Chandigarh on the Shimla Spiti route. So the best you can do is to reach Chandigarh by air and then take the road transport to Shimla and then to Spiti. There is, however, an airport in Bhuntar but that comes if you go Spiti and Lahaul via the Manali route.
This mode is preferred by people who are less on time and stay far away. Let’s say e.g. down south states. On our recent trip to Spiti, there was a group from Bangalore whom we met briefly who flew from the south town till Chandigarh and then rented bikes for Spiti.
Now let’s take a look at the routes for Spiti valley from Jaipur.
Spiti Valley from Jaipur, Chandigarh, Simla, Spiti, Lahaul & return via Manali
Most riders prefer this route. Even I and my two friends took this route in August to do the Spiti circuit. The route that you can take is highlighted in the map image.
The reason why you should take this route is to avoid AMS aka acute mountain sickness. When you climb from Shimla to a higher altitude the gain in altitude is gradual unlike a sudden altitude jump when you take the Manali route.
I do not want anyone to get mountain sick so this route is preferred. This route is best for travellers going to Spiti for the first time.
I do remember way back when I visited Chandrataal from Manali one of my friends got caught in mountain sickness and we had to drive back the same day to Manali to get him to stabilize. So new riders and travellers please take this route.
Spiti Valley from Jaipur, Chandigarh, Manali, Lahaul, Spiti, & return via Shimla
The route is the same except starting point after Chandigarh is Manali. The return would be from Shimla this time. The map remains the same.
This route is typically for experienced travellers and riders. The reason being is that Manali is at an altitude of 6730 feet above sea level. So to enter the Lahaul district, you will have to drive for around 50 Km and reach Gramphu after which you will cross Chatru and the first night you will stay most probably at Chandrataal which is at an altitude of 13,940 feet. This is almost double then Manali and in a short period.
This sudden bump leads to altitude sickness if your body is properly acclimatized. No matter if you take the Atal tunnel or Rohtang pass this altitude jump makes new travellers uneasy. AMS is bound to hit you.
Also, it’s not just about the altitudes, we all have heard about the dangerous water crossings of Spiti valley. The majority of these water crossings are within the 45 km between Ghampru and Batal.
The good part about coming from Shimla is that first you get acclimatized and secondly, you already have passed the smaller water crossings and have gained some experience in guiding your vehicles through these crossings. That experience will come in handy between Gramphu and Batal.
Do not ask me or anyone how many water crossings are there in this region. No one can give you a definitive answer. The fact is that water flow in the mountains changes every time. As far as local folks are concerned they would tell that Chota Darra and Bada Darra are the two notorious water crossings. Having said that to be precise I encountered at least 8 water crossings in the distance of 50 Km from Batal to Chatru.
These water crossings are made every day by nature and few are stopped either by nature or by the road construction authority. Even at Chatru, they tried constructing a bridge but in vain, the water flow along with stones and mud wiped the entire bridge. Do not underestimate the power of flowing water with stones and mud.
Summing up the topic of reaching Spiti valley from Jaipur
The choice is yours. In my view, if you take the Shimla route that’s better as it does not put too much pressure on your body to get acclimatised. If you are an experienced rider and if you visit mountains frequently you can try the Manali route. Having said that I would say keep all precautions in place as these mountains are unforgiving.
The weather is unpredictable and changes rapidly. One instant you would find cloudy and sunshine a few kilometres you can find heavy rains. This is what happened to us on our Spiti trip. We wanted to see the thrill of doing this circuit in Monsoons.
We did get stuck at times, but with patience and skills, I don’t think anything is impossible.
For AMS I would also suggest you keep Diamox tablets. This can help in extreme circumstances, however, take it only after consulting your doctor. This tablet speeds up the acclimatization process.
So this is the end of the article folks, if you have any questions please leave them in the comment box below. I would love to answer all your queries. Stay safe and happy travelling in the mountains.