Most people think Spiti Valley is inaccessible in the winters. For the adventurous soul, this may turn out to be the best time to visit. There are hardly any tourists around and you will have all of Spiti to yourself. Winter is a perfect time to see local life in Spiti, as it has existed for centuries.
Winter in Spiti is harsh and temperatures are known to plummet to lesser than -35 degree Celsius at night. Everything is quite likely to be frozen and there is no running water in the taps. If you are lucky, there is a huge possibility of experiencing snowfall in Spiti, and sighting a snow leopard is a good possibility.
The change in landscape means it is quite possible to think of Spiti as an entirely different land as compared to summers. There are frozen waterfalls, azure blue skies, trees devoid of leaves, pristine freezing rivers in the winter that make Spiti a more beautiful and novel experience.
It is a good idea to first get acclimatized to the bare cold and high altitude of Kaza (3700 m) before exploring the various sites in the region. While coming from the Shimla route, the monastery of Nako coupled with a walk to the frozen or semi-frozen Nako Lake will help in acclimatization and be getting used to the cold. The oldest monastery in India, Tabo Gompa complex can be explored at leisure before making the final run to Kaza.
Apart from these places, there are other noteworthy monasteries in Spiti, including the Sakya Gompa in Kaza, Ki Monastery, Dhankar Monastery and Dhankar Lake, Komic Gompa, Giu Monastery, Lhalung Gompa and Kungri Monastery.Keep in mind that, depending on the amount of snow, the roads to these places may or may not be open. If the roads are closed, it is possible to trek to these villages on foot in the snow; it is advised not to trek by yourself and have a local guide or villager around.
Major Spiti Valley attraction in the winters is the possibility of walking on the frozen Spiti and Pin rivers; keep in mind that there have been instances of people drowning in the past and any attempts are off the recommended list. A visit to a high altitude Spitian village is another major attraction, you will get to see local life and experience how it goes on in spite of the unbearable freezing temperatures.
Reaching the village of Losar is a big upcoming attraction in Spitian winters. It is the biggest and farthest of all the Spitian villages and is a cultural delight. Locals celebrate festivals and folk dances by singing traditional Spitian songs. To revive the tradition, winters also see young men learn the art of carving Buddhist prayers on mane stones. In Kaza, locals can be seen playing the favorite Spitian game of ‘Cholo’.
The road to Losar is almost unbelievable in the winter and the landscape is covered in a blanket of white. There may be blossoms of various colors of almond, plum, peach and apricot trees along the route in February/March. Celebrating the festivals of Dechang and Losar is another big attraction in the winters.