Jispa: A destination on the banks of the Bhaga River

Jispa is usually promoted by travel operators as a necessary halt on the way to Ladakh when coming from Manali. Not only are the subsequent distances to Leh and Tso Moriri too much to cover on the same day, but also to enable travellers get acclimatised to the high altitudes of the region. Jispa is located at a height of 10,890 feet above sea level in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh.

[Click here to get driving instructions to reach Jispa from Delhi or Manali]

To be fair to this town, or village, it could well be a destination in itself. When you sleep at night, and all you hear is the Bhaga river along which this village is located, you will know the reason why. But for an occasional vehicle passing by, including some oil tankers at three in the night, Jispa is as quiet as you can hope an inhabited place in India to be. With views as beautiful as you can wish them to be.

[Click on any image for a larger view]

You have not only the river, originating from the Baralachala Pass a few hours drive further on, but the surrounding peaks covered with mist and clouds creating a postcard picture look. Step out early morning for a walk with a drizzle on your face, and soak in the rich greenery around, and wonder why few recommend Jispa for a holiday. You could spend days here, walking along the river or picnicking at spots of your choosing within a few hours driving around. You can also visit the Jispa Rural Museum housing reminders of the history and way of life of the residents of the Tod Valley of the Lahaul district (where Jispa is located), and also buy handicrafts made by local women; I missed seeing it as it was closed. The only place to stay in the modest, yet sporting a large structure, Hotel Ibex (also known as Hotel Jispa).

Locals using roadside tap to wash utensils and to brush their teeth
Locals using roadside tap to wash utensils and to brush their teeth

A stroll in the village can be full of sights in itself. Despite the abundance of water in the river along their houses, many residents still need to depend on a tap on the road for washing utensils, filling water in containers and to even brush their teeth. Early morning sees workers on the way to earn their daily wages at Government road construction sites, including an old woman I chatted up. You have a bus picking passengers with a sign inside prohibiting passengers on seats one to three not to sleep, lest it becomes contagious and the driver gets drowsy himself.

And then you have a karyana (grocery) store run by an ‘ex-man’ Karam Singh – methinks it should have been ex-serviceman; this region is full of those retired from the armed forces. What made for a highly encouraging view was that of the local school. It seemed more active than one would expect it to be; the old woman I spoke to confirmed all children go to school regularly and teachers do so too. It is a big achievement in India where education for most is in a sorry state of affairs. Under the Government’s Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (universal education for all) program, a board highlighted the targets: by 2003 all children had to be in school, and by 2010 all of them should have completed their education till at least the eighth grade. Jispa looked like on course to achieve these milestones.

As common all over Ladakh, Jispa too has some Buddhist chortens (stupas) conveying the usual sense of serenity. As do the Buddhist flags fluttering all over. And then there are the Ladakhi style steps cut on a log of tree that promise to be a stairway to heaven if you can climb these without support.

Make Jispa a destination, not a halting point, the next time you are in these parts. For that heavenly experience.

Locals walking in the drizzle with their cow
Locals walking in the drizzle with their cow
Another resident walking in the drizzle
Another resident walking in the drizzle
Workers off to earn their daily wages in the morning
Workers off to earn their daily wages in the morning
A sign in the local school with targets written in Hindi
A sign in the local school with targets written in Hindi



  1. It was great to visit your blog. And I for one am going to Jispa as soon as I can. With the short weekends that our professional lives allow us I guess it will be just perfect for a short visit of 5-6 days. I have been to Chhitkul en route Sarahan and Kalpa. Also to Vashishtha, Manali, Shimla, Dharamshala, so on. Nobody earlier suggested Jispa as a destination. We like to go to lesser traveled locales and Chhitkul instead of Sangla was the perfect answer. But have one question can I be struck with AMS at Jispa?

  2. Hi Pragya,

    I am sure you will enjoy going to Jispa. And explore the surrounding areas. It is highly unlikely you will be struck with AMS here. I have not heard of this happen to anyone. Sarchu is a different proposition altogether though but I don’t think you are going there.

    All the best with your trip. And if you ever want to share your travel experiences on Kunzum, I will only be too happy to carry these.

    Cheers… Ajay

  3. Sir,
    Going through your blog is a wonderful thing to remind me of Jispa. But, I feel that you missed out our camp at Jispa. We have upgraded our camp at Jispa with Swiss Cottages this year and in total we will be having 15 standard and 9 luxury tents for our esteemed clients. We ar e the local guys operating our camp at Jispa since year 2005. Our Kitchen offers Indian,Chinese,COntinental and local delicacies.
    Welcome to Jispa and explore the sheer ecstasy of nature( Far from the madding crowd).

  4. Hi,

    I will certainly look up your camp when I visit Jispa next. I hope to be there again this summer – I want to go back to Ladakh for sure.

    Do you have a website where one can know more of your camp?

    Cheers… Ajay

  5. I’m planning a trip to Jispa, as soon as the Rohtang pass opens in May’09. Will I be able to go upto Baralacha pass. I have heard the army is clearing the Rohtang pass early due to the elections.

    Apart from Ibex, the other camp provider, do you have the contact details for it, any number…or any other contact option, there is nothing on the net for it

  6. Hi Sunil,

    I am not sure of the Baralachla Pass being open. I have been told it is not realistic to drive across these high passes till June.

    You can contact http://banjaracamps.com for booking in Jispa. Am forwarding you a mail separately from another camp provider. Hope this helps.

    Cheers… Ajay

  7. Hi,
    im planning a trip…
    can we drive till jispa?
    whats the best route…
    how many days…
    where to stay? the camps or hotel ibex?
    is June end or july a good time to go?
    i live in delhi and jispa has always been kind of a mystery…
    any good websites for information?
    will be young kids (under 10) be fine there?

  8. Hi Mayur,

    You can check this post about driving to Jispa: http://kunzum.com/2008/08/02/driving-from-delhi-to-leh-ladakh/

    Perfectly fine to drive to Jispa in June and July via Rohtang. Not sure of the camps, but Ibex is fine. Very basic, but you cannot expect more. Don’t know of any websites really on Jispa except some of the posts I have written on Kunzum.

    Should be fine for kids too. Just take the usual precautions when on high altitudes – but the same goes for adults too.

  9. Hi rnI M Planing for going in June21st~25th.rnat whish place I can go where I Found snow.rnWe are 4 members.rnand is it possible to go by WagonaR (petrol) car in long journyrnPlease help us at which place we should go.

  10. Hi Girish, June is not a great time to find snow anywhere – but in Ladakh there will be enough peaks where you can see it at a distance. WagonR should be ok for Ladakh – just be careful of broken roads or where water is flowing across roads.

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  13. i am planning a leh trip via manali. how long does it take to reach manali? what are the best halts like jispa or something in between? and how about accomodation?

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