The Spiti Valley is a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalaya mountains in the north-eastern part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name "Spiti" means "The Middle Land", i.e. the land between Tibet and India.
It possesses a distinctive Buddhist culture similar to that found in the nearby Tibet Autonomous Region and the Ladakh region of India. The valley and surrounding region is one of the least populated regions in India and is the gateway to the northernmost reaches of the nation. Along the northern route from Manali, Himachal Pradesh or Keylong via the Rohtang Pass or Kunzum Pass respectively, the valley lies in the North East of the Indian hill state of Himachal Pradesh, and forms part of the Lahaul and Spiti district. The sub-divisional headquarters (capital) is Kaza, Himachal Pradesh which is situated along the Spiti River at an elevation of about 12,500 feet (3,800 m) above mean sea level.
Lahaul and Spiti is surrounded by high mountain ranges. The Rohtang Pass, at 13,054 feet (3,979 m), separates Lahul and Spiti from the Kulu Valley. Lahul and Spiti are cut off from each other by the higher Kunzum Pass, at 15,059 feet (4,590 m). A road connects the two divisions, but is cut off frequently in winter and spring due to heavy snow. The valley is likewise cut off from the north up to eight months of the year by heavy snowfalls and thick icing conditions. A southern route to India proper is periodically closed for brief periods in the winter storms of November through June, but road access is usually restored a few days after storms end via Shimla and the Sutlej valley in the Kinnaur district.
Gompa (Tibetan: དགོན་པ།, ZYPY: Gönba) and ling are Buddhist ecclesiastical fortifications of learning, lineage and sadhana (that may be understood as a conflation of a fortification, a monastery or nunnery, and a university (Sanskrit: vihara)), located in Tibet, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Their design and interior details vary from region to region, however, all follow a general sacred geometrical mandala design of a central prayer hall containing a Buddha murti or thangka, benches for the monks or nuns to engage in prayer or meditation and attached living accommodation. The gompa or ling may also be accompanied by any number of stupas. The siting and aspect of the architectural constructions, satellite buildings and grounds were founded on ancient principles of geodesic lore and environmental metaphysics.