“How to reach Spiti from Chennai” will be the first question popping up in your mind if you’re planning to visit this remotely located but gorgeous kingdom in Himachal Pradesh. This is a reasonable thing to ask before heading to a place that is distantly placed on the globe.
It is true that Spiti is a far away land located at an altitude of 4,270 meters above sea level. But what also holds true is that Spiti as a travel destination is surreal. So in case, the question of, “how to reach Spiti from Chennai” is confusing you with the thought of whether you should proceed ahead or not, please do.
There are various modes of travel that will help you reach Spiti from Chennai. Also, there are two distinct routes (Shimla and Manali)that can be followed once you’re somewhat near Spiti. I intend to discuss all these minute details in the current blog so that my fellow travelers can benefit from my own experience.
How to Reach Spiti from Chennai?
In order to reach Spiti from Chennai, the first thing that you need to know as a traveler is the route that needs to be followed.
One thing that you should most certainly understand is that you will have to choose either Shimla or Manali as your base cities. Reason being, these are the only two places that can lead you to Kaza – the entry point to Spiti.
Hence, in order to reach Kaza from Chennai, you either need to arrive at Shimla or Manali and from there you should be proceeding ahead.
Routes to Reach Spiti
As mentioned above, there are 2 distinct routes to reach Spiti. The first one is the Shimla route and the second one is the Manali route.
While traveling from Shimla to Spiti can be a longer journey, it is more comfortable and the chances of AMS are less on this route. Traveling from Manali to Spiti works well if you are short on time and don’t mind the AMS and the steep slopes.
As a first time traveler to the region, if you want to know more about both these routes and the various factors that should influence your decision, refer to the blog on comparison of both routes on this website.
If you choose the Shimla route, you need to break your journey into 3 parts.
1.Traveling from Chennai to Shimla
2.Traveling from Shimla to Reckong Peo
3.Traveling from Reckong Peo to Kaza – the entry point of Spiti.
If you choose the Manali route, you need to break your journey into 2 parts.
1.Traveling from Chennai to Manali
2.Traveling from Manali to Kaza – the entry point of Spiti.
Now that you have the routes clear, it is time to know the list of conveyance options available to you. Once you know them, depending on your budget and available time, you can choose to plan your trip.
There are two modes of travel that you can avail if you are struggling with the question of how to reach Spiti from Chennai. You have the option to travel by train or the option to travel by flight.
If you choose to reach Spiti via Shimla, there are 3 connecting trains that you will have to board – from Chennai Central to New Delhi (or the local station of H.Nizamuddin), from New Delhi to Kalka and finally from Kalka to Shimla.
Rajdhani Express is the best train on this route. It is also the fastest. It will lead you straight from Chennai to New Delhi. The travel time from Chennai to New Delhi is about 28 hours.
Once you reach New Delhi, there are plenty of trains you can catch from New Delhi Railway Station that will lead you straight till Kalka. Shatabdi Express is the best option. The travel time via this train will be a mere 4 hours from New Delhi to Kalka. Alternatively, you can board any other train as well.
Finally, when you reach Kalka, you have the option to board 3 trains – Shivalik Express (the luxury train), Himalayan Queen and the Kalka Shimla Passenger Special. The total travel time from Kalka to Shimla will be about 4.5 hours.
If you choose to reach Spiti via Manali, traveling by train isn’t an option because Manali is not connected by train. It doesn’t even have any other railway station that is close to it.
If you choose to reach Spiti via Shimla, you can board a flight from Chennai to New Delhi. From New Delhi, you can board a connecting flight till Shimla. You can also board a flight to Chandigarh from Chennai.
Make sure to check the schedule before hand because Shimla airport is new and has started operating flights just a while ago.
If you choose to reach Spiti via Manali, you can board a flight from Chennai to New Delhi. From New Delhi, you can board a connecting flight till Bhuntur in Kullu district of Himachal (nearest airport to Manali).
|Once you reach New Delhi or Chandigarh, you can choose to travel directly till Shimla or Manali by bus. It will take around 8 to 11 hours to reach your destination. Frequent Volvo buses, *HRTC buses and even buses run by Himachal Tourism are available on both these routes during mornings and evenings.|
*HRTC stands for Himachal Road Transport Corporation
Once you reach Shimla or Manali, you’re mid way in your journey to Spiti. There is more distance left to be covered ahead from both these places. Whatever place you choose to arrive in, it is important that you have absolute clarity about the route and mode of travel beyond it.
How to Reach Spiti from Shimla ?
Once you’ve arrived in Shimla from Chennai via flight or train, it is important that you stay overnight in Shimla. You can choose to stay more as well. After all, Shimla is a beautiful place and there are many reasons to visit and explore it. Also, you will get acclimatized to the environment and the altitude.
In order to reach Spiti, you will have to board a bus from Shimla to Reckong Peo. The frequency of buses on this route is maximum between 4 am and 11 am in the morning. So catch the bus after checking prior schedule. This journey will take around 7 hours and the distance covered will be around 250 Kms.
Once you reach Reckong Peo, stay overnight either there or at nearby Kalpa and board an early morning bus to Kaza. This journey will take around 5 hours and the distance covered will be about 199 Kms. The only bus that runs from Reckong Peo to Kaza is at 7 am in the morning. So don’t miss it at any cost.
Alternatively, you can hire a cab from Shimla and reach Reckong Peo and then Kaza. But it isn’t a reasonable option. Cab drivers will charge you a lot since the terrain is rough and mountainous. Try not to bring your own vehicle in the region unless you are acquainted with driving well in the upper reaches of Himachal.
How to Reach Spiti from Manali ?
Once you’ve arrived in Manali from Chennai via flight, it is important that you stay overnight in Manali, preferably at a decent hostel or a guest house. This is important because the AMS on the route ahead can be acute. So getting accustomed to it beforehand is a decent thing to do.
In order to reach Spiti from Manali, you need to board a direct bus till Kaza in the morning. On a daily basis, two buses run on this route. On leaves at 5 am and the other at 5:30 am. This journey will take around 8 hours and the total distance covered will be around 200 Kms.
Alternatively, you can hire a cab as well. It will take you directly from Manali to Kaza. But it will cost you much more than traveling via bus. As of late, a lot of people have riding bikes from Manali to Kaza. Now this should be an option for you only if you’re in the best health condition and if you’re a very proficient mountain biker.
|The total distance between Chennai and Spiti is 2,952 Kms. This means that you should break your journey for sure in between. That way you will cope up with the mountains and AMS better and will be more comfortable traveling for all of that distance.|
Spiti is the kind of place that only the most determined travelers can reach. Visiting Spiti has its own set of challenges and hardships, especially if you are a first time traveler to the region. However, I can tell you for a fact that your journey will be totally worth it.
Plan a budget trip to Spiti anytime between May and September. These are the optimum months for traveling to the cold desert of Spiti. Once you’re there, you will forget how much distance you’ve covered. The only thing you will think is how to re-visit this Himalayan kingdom again and again.