Although Lahaul and Spiti are usually taken as one unit, they are two different destinations. Starting from Manali towards Rohtang Pass and Leh, you arrive at a junction near Yari-Khoksar. From there, the eastbound road leads to Karcha, Spiti, Kaza, and, after a very long loop, bends southwards to merge into NH22 and continue far south to Shimla. The westwards route from Yari-Khoksar continues as NH21 to Lahaul, Keylong, a string of hairpin bends, and the More Plains, eventually reaching Ladakh and Leh.
The passes Rohtang and Kunzum Lacoming from Manali side are usually closed until mid-May, whereas Reckong Peo Pass coming from the Shimla side can usually be traversed year round.
Access To Spiti
To enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Spiti, entry from Manali via Rohtang and Kunzum La is ideal, the high altitude desert landscape with virtually no civilisation till Kaza is a sight to behold. There is bus service from Manali to Kaza, subject to weather conditions open passes, please check with Himachal Roadways at Manali. After passing Rohtang pass two hour drive from Manali one away from civilization till next stop at Kaza, eight to ten hours away, On the way one may encounter construction crew working on road or power project and two small road side eating places, First, Chhatru Village with a Government Guest House and four shops where you can get Indian meal of Roti bread, Rice vegetables and Dallentils, and sometimes sandwiches and non-vegetarian dishes. This is last place to stock mineral water and soft-drinks. The other, Batal single hut shop two in summers is one hour further down the road offering very basic Indian meal. Highest point on the road is snow covered Kanzum pass 14931 ft, nearly five hours from Rohtang pass, provide breathtaking view of Shigri Glacier. Entire journey and the landscape is a photographer’s paradise. Be aware, already poor road will disappear on and off for kilometres but on this virgin landscape, even road is an eyesore. Just before Kaza signs of civilisation reappear.On the way just before the climb of Kanzum La La means mountain pass starts at Batal, the road bifurcate for Chandra Tal approx 10 km/2-3 hours, where basic camping facilities are available and time permitting, deserves a visit especially during full moon.On these roads, distances do not count; duration of your drive will be determined by road conditions and landscape - which will force numerous breaks. No mobile connectivity is available till Kaza which has only BSNL connectivity. as of August 2013 Unless one is on shoe string budget, it is advisable to hire a SUV from Manali. Nearly all tour operator provide service, prices fluctuate so do bargain and ask for a deal with accommodation Kaza and other places you intend to visit in valley. Insist on a experienced local driver from valley, as they understand the weather and topography, also ensure that SUV is in good condition.
The alternative entry is from Shimla Capital of Himachal Pradesh side from Kinnaur valley which more comfortable all weather road till Kaza, the route is longer and captivating but landscape is typical Himalayan, unlike the route from Manali. If taking Shimla route plan for overnight stay along the way preferably at Reckong Peo. Please note that foreign visitors need an inner line permit to travel on part of this road. Indian nationals only need a valid identity proof.
Accommodation beyond Manali and Shimla is very basic although Kaza does offer some better options with opening of few new Hotels but don’t have high expectations.