Rudyard Kipling called Spiti “a world within a world” and it’s not hard to understand why. The giant rock mountains around could not have been carved by any mortal hand but only by the force of wind and water over millennia. In Spiti you’ll learn that there is more than one path into the future – a path based on the co-evolution between humans and earth. At first the outsider will see the hard life, but give yourself time and you’ll see the rare kind of purity the people live by. For the adventure traveller Spiti is a virtual ‘Natural Theme Park’, there are seemingly endless array of activities to be enjoyed in the mountains.
It is a place to connect with nature and here you see that if you let indigenous people live as they have for thousands of years, then we have more to learn from them than us. This Trans-Himalayan backcountry is one of the most stunning and rugged regions on the globe with a well preserved Buddhist heritage. With its unique high altitude ecosystem and an isolation that transcends the barriers of time, Spiti leaves the traveller spell bound. The villages in the valley typify the myriad aspects of Spitian culture with some ancient monasteries dating back more than 1000 years.
Such is the energy of the place that you’ll feel strangely content. Maybe it is the architectural perfection of the mountains that lord their beauty over this high altitude wilderness. It’s a place which represents measureless freedom. The sky outlives everything, but Spiti is a place that has survived. It might sound absurd at first that an ancient culture in the Himalayas has anything to teach to the industrialized society. But in our search for the future we keep on spiraling back to an ancient connection between ourselves and the earth, an interconnectedness that ancient cultures have not abandoned. Sticking to its culture, traditions and way of life which to an outsider might seem harsh at first but as you spend time in Spiti, the simplicity and truth will make you think otherwise.
The first inhabitants of Lahaul and Spiti were a mixture of the proto-Tibetan Khampa and Aryan people who intermarried and settled down. Later came the influence of Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism and the local rulers, known as “Nono” served as the main political administrators for certain regions.
Spiti came under the influence of Tibet during the 9th and 10th century. After the downfall of the Tibetan administration in Lhasa, Ladakh took political control of Spiti until the early 17th century, when they took control of Kullu and Chamba.
Other rulers took control of Spiti in subsequent invasions and although Spiti came under the control of Ladakh from the 18th century until 1846, the governor only held loose control over Spiti. Spiti then came under the rule of the Dogras in 1846, while Lahul came under the control of the British East India Company.
Because of their cultural and ethnic similarities and close proximity to each other, Lahaul and Spiti were merged to form a single district in 1960.