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. The valley and surrounding region is one of the least populated regions in India. Long isolated from the outside world, Buddhism flourished in the valley. It possesses a distinctive Buddhist culture similar to that found in the nearby Tibet and the Ladakh region of India. The Gompas of Spiti are some of the oldest in the world, and contains some of the finest collections of Buddhist art and manuscripts. In the past Spiti was the beginning of an ancient trade route to Ladakh and, from there, over the Karakoram Pass on to Yarkand and Khotan in the Tarim Basin.