On your way to Leh-Ladakh next time, break your journey at the little hamlet of Jispa in the Lahaul district of Himachal Pradesh.
A number of snow-fed rivers confluence during its course, before Bhaga river joins Chandra stream at Tandi in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul district. Located on its bank, some 20 kilometres north of Keylong on the Manali-Leh Highway, is a quaint village called Jispa at 10,890 feet above sea level. Although it makes a great pitstop for acclimitisation for your way to Leh-Ladakh, add Jispa to your itinerary as a separate destination this winter.
Arrive here for vistas of mist-covered mammoth mountains and picture-perfect snowy valleys. Slow down to take a stroll, pack a picnic with the gurgling river playing the perfect backdrop, and soak in the dreamy scenery surrounding the village. The quiet offbeat village is ideal for overnight camping under a star-lit sky. The eponymous rural museum here is ideal if you wish to catch a glimpse of the local history and heritage, and take back home indigenous handicrafts as souvenirs.
Save some time to explore several Buddhist chortens or stupas peppered across the valley. Not to mention, the 12th-century Kardang Monastery here houses ancient Buddhist scriptures, thangkas (Tibetan paintings), and musical instruments such as lutes, drums, horns, as well as old weapons. Hundreds of prayer flags fluttering all over add a touch of colour to the sparsely inhabited town!
Keep an eye out for the pristine Suraj Tal lake that you will cross en route Jispa from Manali. While the best time to visit the quaint village is between May and October, you can choose to brave the biting cold and experience the magic of Himalayan winters here.