Kibber, in Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh, has the distinction of being the highest motorable village in the world. The village is known for its scenic mountains, barren splendour and monasteries. Ki Monastery, the largest in Spiti Valley is situated close to Kibber.
The landscape of Kibber and the entire Spiti Valley resembles that of Ladakh and Tibet. The culture also is similar to that of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism is the predominant religion. No wonder then that Spiti is also known as Little Tibet.
Kibber Village, comprising of 80 houses, is located at a distance of 16 km from Kaza at a height of 14,200 feet above mean sea level. Kibber comes under Lahaul-Spiti district Himachal Pradesh in north India.
The architecture of the houses and fortified look of the village are worth seeing. Houses are made of stones and adobe bricks.
Ki Monastery, the most important Buddhist centre in Spiti Valley, is located close to Kibber. The monastery is famous for its murals, thankas, rare manuscripts, stucco images and wind instruments. Serkang Rimpochhe of Tabo founded the Ki Monastery. According to local legend when the mortal remains of the Lama was being cremated, a water source burst from the earth. In August, 2000 Dalai Lama performed Kalchakara ceremony which was attended by devotees and lamas from across the world.
Kibber stands apart from the entire Spiti Valley as it boasts of fertile fields and produces sufficient amounts even for trading. Barley and peas are the main crops. The economy of the village is based mainly on trade with Ladakh. The trade with Ladakh is based on barter system with Kibber locals often trading horses for yaks. The Purang La or Purang Pass is the main trade route.
Spiti remains snowbound during winter and temperature falls to sub-zero levels. Climatic condition compels villagers to mostly stay within their houses. Villagers stock food to last the winter and utilize the time while to knit clothes and make handcraft items.
Though remote, Kibber has all the basic amenities like electricity, civil dispensary, school, post office, etc.
Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary is also located close to the village. It is home to the Ibex, blue sheep, red fox, Tibetan woolly hare, Himalayan Wolf, lynx, pika, Tibetan wild ass and snow leopard. It is the only sanctuary in India that is situated in a cold desert area.
The high altitude and pollution free atmosphere is a boon for sky gazers. Watching the night sky from Kibber is an amazing experience. The stars and the constellations seem very close and can be seen clearly even with the naked eye.
Kibber village is popular among adventure lovers too. Trekking and mountaineering are the main adventure activities. Dandmachan Peak is popular with trekkers and mountaineers. Kibber is also a photographer’s delight. The barren landscape, rivers and mountains and gompas provide excellent opportunities to experiment with their camera skills.
Another claim to fame is the presence of large amount of fossils in and around Kibber. The village is among the most fossilferous region of the world and has earned Spiti the sobriquet of ‘Fossils Park’.
- The song Intezaar intezaar from movie Paap, starring Udita Goswami and John Abraham, was shot at Kibber Village.
- Ishita Khanna, alumni of TISS, has turned the village into ecotourism destination. This has helped in sustaining its culture, livelihood and its heritage status.
Where to stay
Hotels or resorts are non-existent in Kibber. Locals do provide rooms on rent. The homestays are affordable. Don’t expect luxury comfort while staying with the locals. Camping facilities are also available during summer in the village.
Where to eat
Options to eat are very limited in Kibber. Guest houses or homestays provide food on demand. Locals do serve Tibeten and Indian cuisine.
Best time to visit
Best time to visit is from July to mid October.