Spiti Valley is a cold desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas in the north-eastern part of the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The name “Spiti” means “The middle land”, i.e. the land between Tibet and India.
‘Some places you fall in love with, coz they gave you an experience of a lifetime, and with some places you fall in love even before you had a chance to visit them’. This is pretty much my story with the tale of ‘Spiti’, a desert mountain valley located high in the Himalayas, a name that translates into ‘The Middle Land’ – The land between Tibet and India. Closed to the world for almost 30 years, opening its doors to some of the most daring wanderers only in 1992, my colleague and friends, are one of the few people I know who has witnessed the unknown beauty of Spiti, and introduced me to a place which is haunting my mind since forever, almost like calling me to visit…
One of the few unexplored places in the world added many moments of inspiration and true enrichment to my world of experience. A drive from the green hills into completely deserted spaces on high altitudes the land only grew to become wilder.
When we saw the Ki monastery from a distance it plainly looked like god was playing his version of lego. Situated on top of a mountain, it adds depth to the freakishly amazing but barren landscape of Spiti. In the middle of the cold desert the walk to the top of the monastery was combined with skin piercing cold winds that were quite worth it.
Dhankar Monastery, also referred to as Dankhar, Drangkhar or Dhangkar Gompa is situated in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, India. At an altitude of 12,774 feet, the monastery is perched unbelievably on the edge of a cliff and offers a panoramic view of Spiti valley. Built one thousand years ago on a 1000 feet high mountain and overlooking the heart-stirring sight of the confluence of Spiti and Pin rivers, Dhankar Monastery is listed as one of the world’s 100 most endangered monuments.
Being one of the main centres of Buddhist art and culture, the monastery has become a famous tourist destination. Besides enchanting views, the Dhankar Hompa has the statue of Dhayan Buddha and a small museum which stores scriptures and murals. Below the monastery is the village of Shichilling where you will find a new monastery which houses about 150 monks belonging to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. A 2 km hike from the monastery leads to pristine Dhankar lake.
Tabo Monastery, also known as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas,’ is one of the most popular monasteries in the Lahaul and Spiti Valley and was founded more than a millennium back in 996 A.D. This ancient structure stands on the barren, cold, and rocky desert of the Tabo valley at a dizzying height of 3050 meters above sea level. This untouched beauty has preserved the glorious heritage, traditions, and culture of Buddhism through the passage of centuries. According to the Tibetan Calendar, the Tabo Monastery is believed to have been established in the year of the Fire Ape, by a great teacher and translator Lotsawa Rinchen Tsang Po, the king of the western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge.
A historic treasure of India and a heaven in its own right, the Tabo Gompa, or Buddhist monastery is second in importance only to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet. It was developed as an advanced centre for Buddhist learning and to preserve the Buddhist legacy. The monastery complex comprises 9 temples, 23 chortens, a monk’s chamber, and an extension that houses the nun’s chamber. Some temples in the complex are regarded as earlier construction, while another group belongs to a later period. The temples in the first group include The Temple of the Enlightened Gods, The Golden Temple, The Mystic Mandala Temple/Initiation Temple, The Bodhisattva Maitreya Temple, and The Temple of Dromton