NOTE: This post was for road status in the year 2016. Please CLICK HERE or at the link for recent updates on road conditions in year 2017. Road conditions mentioned in this post were for 2016.
This is a dedicated post for Spiti Valley Road Status and road conditions this year which I will keep updating as I receive inputs from from several readers who visited the valley.
ROAD STATUS :
Shimla to Kaza: OPEN
Manali to Kaza: CLOSED
After recent snowfall at Kunzum Pass top, the stretch from Batal to Losar has been declared closed by officials for year 2016. Civilian traffic is now no longer allowed to travel on this stretch of the road. Even though the state run bus service from Manali to Kaza is now no longer operational, local cab drivers are still commuting on the road. This too however will stop after the snow at the top of the pass increases.
If you were planning a trip to Spiti, It is advised to travel from Shimla to Kaza and return via the same route. Do not risk travelling on Manali to Kaza stretch as it is quite risky right now. The road leading to Chandratal too is snowed out and there is no accommodation available at the lake anymore.
In my opinion, now is not really an ideal time to visit Spiti valley. If you are interested in catching some snow, then give it another couple of months and go in the month of January or February because at that time, the entire valley will be under a thick cover of snow. Right now, snow is only limited to the peaks like Kunzum Pass. The weather however has already gotten way too cold already.
Road from Manali to Keylong however is still open as Rohtang Pass has not yet been declared closed. Do not however plan anything as Rohtang too will close any day now.
Below is how the road conditions are in Spiti.
Latest update on the road conditions from Manali to Kaza. Kunzum Pass is expected to be closed on 15th Nov 2016
With Manali Leh highway already declared closed for 2016, It is no longer safe or advised to travel from Manali to Kaza. Even though both Rohtang La and Kunzum Pass are still open for civilian traffic, weather has already gotten way too cold in Spiti. Chandrataal is already closed so if you are travelling from Manali side, there is no other choice but to travel directly to either Losar or Kaza. Dhabas at Batal are still operational but spending the night in a chadar tent in this weather is not recommended. There is a high possibility that you may not even find a place to stay at Batal. Kunzum Pass can experience snow and declared closed any time now.
Shimla to Kaza road is still open and there is no snow on the stretch yet. If you are starting from Shimla, you can travel all the way to Kaza but inquire with the locals before proceeding towards Kunzum Pass. If you are in Kaza and there is snow at the top, you will have no other choice but to return to Shimla via the same route that you took to reach Kaza.
Here is another update from a fellow traveler who just returned from Spiti.
“the road from Manali to Rohtang is only good…Rohtang to gramphu,…is some ok….from there till batal and chandratal. Even to kunzum also the roads are too bad…I felt it’s a real night mare ,….”
Here is the most recent road update on road conditions from a friend who recently completed the Spiti valley circuit in his Renault Duster.
“Road is generally ok up to just short of Tapri but since it is raining in upper Shimla and lower Kinnaur, you could encounter a landslide or two. We were stuck in Neugalsari (just short of Bhabanagar) for about 4 hours. Road condition from Tapri to Pooh is bad (except for a few short stretches where widening and black-topping has been completed) as BRO is widening the road. The construction of multitude of hydro-power projects between Tapri and Karcham has not helped matters (tunneling for these projects has destabilized the mountain slopes). Pooh to Sumdoh stretch is generally quite good but beware of shooting stones in this area. Sumdoh to Kaza is again bad. Since the army and ITBP movement lessens on this stretch (Sumdoh is on the Tibet border), the traffic thins here.
Kaza to Losar is not bad, Losar to Kunzum top and then to Batal is not as good (I find that going up the Kunzum from the Spiti side is better than from the Manali side). Please remember to stop at Chacha-Chachi dhaba at Batal for breakfast or tea. I have known them since 1993. They are the last ones to close down in winters and have been known to help numerous tourists stuck in that area. You can see Chachi in one of the Incredible India ads of Aamir Khan (the one where an old lady helps a young female tourist who has missed her bus).
The real challenge is Batal to Rohtang top. I last drove on this road in 1993 and there has been absolutely no improvement in the condition of the road in 23 years. You will be driving on embedded rocks for almost 4-5 hours. However, the good news is that the nallahs on this stretch (especially between Chhatru and Gramphoo) have been bridged and are no longer a menace they used to be. Even the road leading to Rohtang top from Gramphoo is bad as that stretch is also being widened. The other side of Rohtang up to Manali has been widened and is good.
For those who have not travelled this side in the recent past, please note that the road from Parwanoo to Solan and also from Sundernagar (on Manali side) till Kiratpur is in a bad shape as both these highways are being four laned. So keep an extra time cushion for covering these stretches.
Spiti Valley Road Status
Delhi-Parwanoo: Good Condition
Parwanoo-Solan: Just ok, road widening in progress
Solan-Narkanda: Good Condition
Narkanda-Rampur: Good Condition
Rampur-Wangtoo: Good Condition
Wangtoo-Karcham-Very bad condition
Karcham-Chooling: very bad and steep via Urni village diversion
Chooling-Powari: very bad condition
Powari-Apka: bad condition
Akpa-Spillow: Good Condition
Spillow-Pooh: bad, good from 5kms before Pooh
Pooh-Khab: mostly good with a few bad patches
Khab-Nako: very good
Shalkar-Sumdo: bad, rockfall zone
Sumdo-Gue Village: good
Gue Village cut-Tabo: bad
Tabo-Kaza: mostly bad, last 10kms before Kaza good
Kibber-Chicham bridge: good
Kaza-Rangrik: very good
Rangrik-Losar: bad with one water crossing
Losar-Kunzum: bad and steep
Kunzum-Chandratal: very bad with 2 water crossings
Chanderatal-Batal: very bad
Batal-Chattru: very bad, river bed track, full of stones. Numerous water crossings, 3-4 big ones
Chattru-Gramphoo: bad with a couple of water crossings
Gramphoo-Rohtang: mostly good
Rohtang-Manali: very good, slushy at a couple of places
While the road from from Manali to Keylong has been declared open and is currently is use by civilians, Kunzum pass remains to be closed. Here is a pic of the current condition of the road.
The entire stretch from Gramphoo to Batal and then to Losar via Kunzum Pass is still covered in snow and closed.This road including Kunzum Pass usually opens towards Mid of June however due to mild snow-fall, it is expected to be open a little early this year, either towards end of May or by early June. Road to Chandrataal also is closed and is expected to open around 10th of June, after Kunzum pass opens.
Spiti Valley Road Status
If you are planning a trip to Spiti this year, best time would be by mid-June or after. If you must travel earlier than that, the only way would be to do Shimla to Kaza and return via the same route.