Spiti is home to some of the most ancient and incredible monasteries in India. And Key monastery is the biggest and the most famous of them all which is surely not be missed on your trip. So, If you are visiting Spiti for the very first time, you might have a question on how to reach Key Monastery.
Therefore, this blog is going to on how to reach Key Monastery. There are a couple of ways you can reach Key monastery and I’ll be running you through both of them. So, stick with me till the end and all your queries will be put to rest.
How to Reach Key Monastery – All You Need To Know As A First Time Traveler
Now there are two different routes from where you can reach Key Gompa. One is via Shimla and Kinnaur and the other one is via Manali and Lahaul.
Both Shimla and Manali are easily accessible from Delhi and Chandigarh and you get a lot public and private buses for the same.
The Lahaul route takes far less time to reach than Shimla. But Shimla route is safer in terms of AMS when compared to Lahaul route. The route via Shimla is also open throughout the year, although Key Monastery may or may not be accessible in winters.
By the way if you are visiting Spiti for the first time, here is a detailed blog on the best routes for Spiti valley.
How To Reach Key Monastery from Shimla (Reaching Key Monastery via Kinnaur)
To reach Key Monastery from Shimla and Kinnaur you first need to get to Kaza which is the administrative capital of Spiti. And a lot of people usually enter via this route as it is open throughout the year.
Once you reach Kaza, getting to Key Gompa takes just around 14 km. But most of the people usually take multiple days to get to Kaza as they tend to explore places in Kinnaur and Spiti on the way to Kaza.
And of course, reaching Shimla is quite easy from Delhi or Chandigarh as you’ll get a lot of buses going towards Shimla on regular intervals.
By the way if you are visiting Spiti for the first time, then these 27 easy to follow travel tips for Spiti will be of a great help. Feel free to check it out. This is the route you would need to follow to reach Key Monastery.
- Reaching Rampur Bushahr from Shimla
- Getting to Karcham from Rampur
- Reaching Pooh from Karcham via Reckong Peo
- Getting to Tabo via Nako and Sumdo
- Reaching Kaza from Tabo
- Finally making it to the Key Monastery
Reaching Rampur from Shimla
Rampur Bushahr used to be the capital of Bushahri kingdom back in the day. From Shimla you’ll be passing through the beautiful villages and tourists resorts of Upper Shimla like Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda and finally reach Rampur Bushahr.
The distance between Rampur Bushahr and Shimla is around 126 km. A lot of people like to start from Narkanda as well instead of Shimla due it being away from the crowd.
Getting to Karcham from Rampur
Finally you’ll be saying goodbye to Shimla and entering the tribal district of Kinnaur via Jeori which is the border of Shimla and Kinnaur.
The distance between Karcham and Rampur is around 76 km. Karcham is where the road diverts to Reckong Peo and the famous Baspa valley. The road conditions are decent with few bad patches here and there.
Reaching Pooh from Karcham via Reckong Peo
From Karcham you need go towards Reckong Peo and Pooh. The distance between Karcham and Pooh is around 75 km. Reckong Peo is the administrative capital of Kinnaur and also a major stopover for people traveling to Spiti valley.
You don’t really need to go to Reckong Peo, and can bypass it. But do note that Reckong Peo is the last Pertrol Pump before Kaza.
Getting to Tabo via Nako and Sumdo
Finally you’ll be entering Spiti valley today. The distance between Tabo and Pooh is around 88 km and passes through the famous Nako in Upper Kinnaur and the border village of Sumdo.
Both Nako and Tabo have some of the ancient monasteries of our country. By the way here is the list of celestial monasteries of Spiti’s counterpart Lahaul valley.
Reaching Kaza from Tabo
Kaza is the sub divisional headquarters of Spiti and one of the biggest villages in Spiti. The distance between Kaza and Tabo is around 48 km.
Kaza is where you get all the public transport to the upper villages of Spiti including Key Monastery.
Finally reaching Key Monastery from Kaza
So once you reach Kaza it will hardly take an hour to reach the celestial Monastery of Key. The distance between Kaza and Key is around 14 km. Just make sure that you can take diversion to Key Gompa, use google maps and you should be fine.
You can easily make a day trip first to Key Monastery and then carry on further to Kibber village. Here is detailed post on how to reach the beautiful village of Kibber as a first time traveler.
There are places to stay near Key Monastery. So, in case you are planning to spend a night at Key, make sure that you are well acclimatized as Key is around 14,000 ft above the sea level.
There are HRTC buses running on this route from Shimla. But of course, you have to break your journey Reckong Peo and Kaza. Although this route is accessible throughout the year, but in peak winters do not expect public transport to be functional.
How To Reach Key Monastery from Manali (Reaching Key Monastery from Lahaul)
If you want to reach Key village in a short span of time, then Manali-Kaza route is the best way to reach Key monastery. You can reach Key Monastery from Manali within 8-10 hours.
However I would suggest you just to spend a few minutes at Key Monastery and head straight to Kaza or you can just head straight to Kaza from Manali and only go to Key Monastery after a day or two. By then you would be sort of acclimatized.
Please note, that this route is only accessible during June to October and is closed for the rest of the year due to heavy snow at Kunzum La. This means that public transport from Manali is available only during the same period.
By the way, if its your first time in Spiti and you are worried about the safety, you should definitely check this out. It will surely put all your concerns to rest.
- Reaching Gramphoo from Manali
- Getting to Chhota Dhara from Gramphoo
- Reaching Kunzum La from Chhota Dhara
- Finally making it to Key Gompa from Kunzum La
Reaching Gramphoo from Manali
Now before the Atal tunnel opened up, it would have taken you around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Gramphoo from Manali via Rohtang La.
But now due to Atal you can bypass Rohtang La and directly head to Gramphoo via the tunnel this would save at least a 1.5 hours. The distance from Manali to Gramphoo is around 47 km.
By the way you should definitely check out my blog 31 ethereal places to visit near Spiti. These places are equally picturesque as the places in Spiti.
Getting to Chota Dhara from Gramphoo
From Gramphoo basically you’ll be driving on a dirt track. The road from Gramphoo till at least losar is in extremely bad shape. So you have to be extremely careful while driving.
Even though the road is bad, it is just celestial. If you are lucky enough and the weather is clear, then you’ll be able to witness some insane views of snow-clad peaks that will be etched in your memory.
I was not so fortunate enough as the weather was overcast throughout the journey. Gramphoo to Chhota Dhara is around 28 km.
Reaching Kunzum La from Chota Dhara via Batal
So Kunzum La is the actual boundary between Lahaul and Spiti valleys and once you are at Kunzum La you’ll finally enter the Spiti valley from Lahaul.
The road from Chota Dhara to Kunzum is in complete shambles with infinite water crossings and big stones on the dirt track. It was somewhere between Batal and Chota Dhara that we were stuck for 3 hours as a truck was stuck due to a big stone.
The distance between Chota dhara and Kunzum La is around 26 km. Pay your respects at Kunzum La along with the insane views of glaciers and high mountains.
Finally making it to Key Monastery from Kunzum La
So now the extremely bad roads will be behind you, but still it will take some to get metaled roads. Losar is the first village that you’ll encounter if you travel to Spiti via Manali-Kaza road.
You continue to keep moving towards Key Monastery and you should be able to reach there in a 2 couple of hours. The distance between Kunzum La and Key Monastery is around 60 km.
Even though, you can directly go to Key Monastery from Manali, I would suggest otherwise. Instead you should head straight to Kaza and only visit Key after you are well acclimatized. Reason being, the AMS threat, as Key is at around 14,000 ft.
So It should take around 10-12 hours to reach Key Monastery from Manali as the roads is in Shambles. But according to some news reports, BRO has repaired the Kaza-Manali road, but we will get a clarity about the actual road conditions only in Summer 2021.
To conclude, I hope that you now have a fair idea on how to reach Key Monastery. In my opinion, you should take the Shimla route if you plan to explore Spiti for a few days. If you are short on time only then you should take the Manali route.
And make sure you are properly acclimatized if you are visiting Key Monastery from the Manali route. In case you have any queries on how to travel to Key Monastery, please drop them in the comments below. I’ll be happy to help.