Quite honestly, if you asked me I would rather want my phone to not work at all while visiting a place like Spiti valley. My whole idea of going to a place like this is to be away for a bit from what we go through and do every day in our regular lives; to spend some time in peace without my phone buzzing after regular intervals. I would rather look at the mesmerizing vistas all around me than my phone screen. But that is just me, not everyone feels that way and everyone have their own reasons. Surety that help is just a call away if they need it is one of the biggest reasons why people would want to stay within mobile network in Spiti valley. Some people just like staying connected, others would love to click and upload pictures on social media and some people would like their phones to remain alive so their family doesn’t get worried about where they are.
Whatever your reason maybe, if you too are planning a visit to Spiti valley and wondering where and how you can keep your phone within range, below is a little information on the topic.
Best Mobile Network in Spiti Valley
Only a BSNL / MTNL mobile connection works in Spiti valley and that too in a few parts. The voice quality will not be that good but they have the widest coverage. If you are on any other network, your phone will only be as good as a paperweight throughout Spiti. From Shimla side, all other networks will stop working once you cross Kalpa, somewhere around Puh. From Manali, as soon as you start to descend on the other side of Rohtang towards Lahaul Valley, your phone will go out of network.
BSNL / MTNL Mobile Network in Spiti Valley
Even a BSNL network doesn’t work everywhere in Spiti. If you are traveling from Shimla, then your phone will remain well within the network up until Reckong Peo. If Sangla and Chitkul are on your itinerary too, you can expect network coverage at both these places. After Peo, as you start traveling towards Puh, network will remain until the small villages of Moorang or Spello. Somewhere around this area, you will be completely off the network and won’t be back on again until Puh. After crossing Puh, network will be gone again but will come back alive as you reach Nako. After Nako, your phone will be dead again up until Tabo. From Tabo, you will be constantly on and off the network until Kaza. Once you reach Kaza, you will get a good strong network.
Around Kaza, network is not really that great in villages of Kibber, Kaumik, Tashigang or Langza. You may get a very weak signal or you may get no signal at all.
If PIN Valley was on your itinerary too, the situation is quite the same as on the route from Tabo to Kaza. Signal will be on and off, sometimes it will be strong but most of the times it will just be weak.
Your phone will work only for a little while as you travel from Kaza towards Losar. From here, once your phone goes dead you may as well just switch it off as there will be no network until you start descending from Rohtang towards Manali. Somewhere on the descent, you will be within the network again.
There is however a small possibility that you may get a very weak signal around Gramphu but do not count on it. Losar has a mobile tower but it is not always functional. If there is electricity available or a generator running to power it up, you will get a good signal. If there is no power, your phone will be dead too.
The most important thing with BSNL network is that the quality is not really that great and you may have a hard time understanding what the other person is saying but at least you will have the liberty of sending a text if needed. Another important factor is all that I said above applies only in summer. Winters are a whole another story with no mobile network in Spiti valley at all, even BSNL.
There is no BSNL coverage at Kunzum Pass, Chandratal or Batal.
Airtel will probably be the second best mobile network in Spiti valley. From Shimla, it will work as far as Reckong Peo however there will be no network in Sangla and Chitkul if you took the diversion. After Reckong Peo, somewhere on the road to Puh, your phone will go dead and will remain so until you reach Gramphu. After Gramphu, as you start towards Rohtang La, your phone will come back alive again.
Airtel has no network coverage in towns after Puh, including Nako, Tabo, Dhankar, Kaza, Losar or areas like Kunzum Pass, Chandratal and on Batal to Gramphu stretch. You will get connectivity at Sangla but not in Chitkul.
Pretty much the same story as Airtel. It will work until a few kilometers after Reckong Peo and won’t come back alive again until you get closer to Manali. Vodafone too has no coverage in all the towns that I mentioned above for Airtel. The only thing different is that once you reach Gramphu and travel towards Manali, Airtel will be on network quicker than Vodafone.
Do you need only a Postpaid mobile phone in Spiti valley?
The answer to this question is a No. Unlike Ladakh, both prepaid and postpaid connections work well in Spiti Valley. So if you are a prepaid user, there is no need for you to convert it to Postpaid.
Data connectivity in Spiti Valley
If you are getting a signal, you will get data connectivity too but it will be terribly slow. Even if it is a 3G connection, your connectivity will only be as good as 2G, or even worse. Do not even think about sending media or upload pictures, it will take forever. It is good enough to be used only for sending messages.
Mobile network in Kaza
Only BSNL works here, no other network available but there are several pay phone that you can use.
Manali to Kaza
As I said, your phone will not work at all after Gramphu until Kaza but there is a satellite phone available at one of the Dhabas in Batal so if needed, you can use that to make a phone call.
So coming to the final question which I get asked a lot, Do you need to or should you buy a new BSNL connection for your trip to Spiti valley? My answer to that question is mostly No but it is different for every individual. Think about it, Until Reckong Peo you are well on network no matter which connection you have. After Peo, you can expect the coverage to last close enough to Puh. The journey from Peo to Kaza is usually done in two days at most with people breaking it at either Nako or Tabo. So for first half of the day, your phone will definitely be working. On the second day, it is true that your phone will not work at all but Kaza has the facility of pay phone so if needed, you can call your family and friends to check on them and let know of your well being. From Kaza, it is again usually a 2 days journey to Manali with a break at Chandratal. So for the first day from Kaza, you have the facility to make a phone call. There is a satellite phone at Batal that you can use to make a phone call if needed on both Day 1 and 2. From Chandratal, you will be back in Manali and your phone will again be working in the evening on Day 2. So in a nutshell, your actual time away from the phone is quite limited. Ask yourself, do you really need a new phone connection for this limited time frame when you will not have access to either a mobile network in Spiti valley or a landline phone?
But this is just my two cents. If you want to, you may buy a BSNL connection for your trip. The most important thing to do however to keep your family informed about your trip. Let them know of your complete itinerary, your entire travel plan, where do you expect to be on which date so that in case something goes wrong, they would at least know about your last whereabouts.
As a breakdown of the entire route, I will list all known towns from Shimla to Spiti to Manali and where you can hope to find mobile network in Spiti Valley. The list below only includes BSNL, Airtel and Vodafone. If you are an Idea user or any other network, I am sorry but I have never travelled to Spiti except for these three service providers.
Mobile Network in Spiti Valley
- Shimla – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Narkanda – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Rampur – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Jeori – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Sarahan – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Wangtoo – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Tapri – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Karchham – BSNL Only
- Sangla – BSNL Only
- Chitkul – BSNL Only (There is also the facility of satellite pay phone available at Chitkul)
- Powari – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Reckong Peo – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Kalpa – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Spello – No Network
- Puh – BSNL Only
- Khab – BSNL Only
- Nako – BSNL Only however there is still a chance that even BSNL may not work here at all.
- Chango – BSNL Only
- Sumdo – BSNL Only
- Giu – No network
- Tabo – BSNL Only
- Dhankar – BSNL Only
- Mud – No Network
- Kaza – BSNL Only
- Kibber – BSNL only however there is still a chance that even BSNL may not work here at all.
- Langza – BSNL only however there is still a chance that even BSNL may not work here at all.
- Kaumik – BSNL only however there is still a chance that even BSNL may not work here at all.
- Tashigang – BSNL only however there is still a chance that even BSNL may not work here at all.
- Rangrik – BSNL Only
- Hull – No network
- Losar – BSNL only however there is still a chance that even BSNL may not work here at all.
- Kunzum Pass- No Network
- Chandratal – No Network
- Batal – No Network (Facility of payphone is however available at one of the Dhabas at Batal)
- Gramphu – BSNL only however there is still a chance that even BSNL may not work here at all. If you are lucky, you may get a weak Airtel Signal
- Rohtang Pass – BSNL, Airtel
- Marhi – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
- Manali – BSNL, Airtel, Vodafone
I hope this information about mobile network in Spiti valley was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below and I would be glad to answer.