The Gateway to Spiti Valley: Kunzum La, Himachal Pradesh

Kunzum Pass or Kunzum La as it is known by the locals is an high altitude mountain pass which is situated at a towering altitude of around 15,059 feet above sea level (4,590 m). Kunzum Pass is the gateway to Spiti Valley via Kullu Valley and Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Kunzum pass lies on the eastern Kunzum Range of the Himalayas around 122 km from the traveller town of Manali.

To reach Kunzum, travellers have multiple options. The first one is to take the local government HRTC ordinary bus from Manali to Kaza in Spiti Valley. The bus leaves in the morning at 5 am and reaches Kunzum La around 2 pm based on the road condition. The journey takes around 8-10 hours on an average, since at some parts the roads are flooded with water coming down from the melting snow and this makes driving on this road extremely difficult.

If one is travelling by bus it is advisable to reconfirm the bus running status a day before your journey and make it to the bus station early to grab a front seat since no advance bookings are allowed.

The second option travellers have and is a much more comfortable option, but at the same time its costlier i.e. to hire a private taxi from Manali. Even while hiring a taxi its better to hire a SUV since smaller four seater cars find it extremely difficult to navigate through the water flooded roads near Kunzum Pass. Taxis take around 5-7 hours to reach Kunzum Pass from Manali.

On reaching Kunzum Pass by default all vehicles stop at the famous shrine of Kunzum Devi to pay their respects to the goddess. This is considered as a good omen for travellers while travelling through this rugged terrain.

Kunzum Pass also offers travellers a breath taking view of Bara-Sigri, the second longest glacier in the world.  Also visible from the top of the pass is the Chandra-Bhaga mountain and Spiti Valley. The presence of prayer flags and prayer stones signify a strong Buddhist influence in the region. Chandertal also know as the moon lake of Spiti Valley is around a 9 km hike from Kunzum Pass.

There is zero accommodation facilities near Kunzum Pass and the nearest villages which have proper home stays and guest houses are Batal 12 km towards Lahaul Valley and Losar 18 km towards Spiti Valley. Kunzum Pass also has no eateries and hence its better for travellers to stock up on food supplies before the journey begins.

Kunzum Pass is generally only open from end of June to end of September and is frozen for the rest of the year. The best time to cross the pass is early in the morning as the water levels near the nallas are competitively much lesser as compared to the rest of the day.

A combination of rugged terrain, water-filled mountain roads, breath taking landscape and cold atmosphere makes crossing the Kunzum Pass a traveller’s dream.


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