Monasteries of Spiti Valley
Nobody describes the Spiti Valley better than Rudyard Kipling when he says, “Surely the Gods must live here, this is no place for men.”
Spiti Valley is more remote and desolate than its famed neighbor Ladakh. Spiti valley is home to 1000-year-old monasteries. The varied type of monasteries will leave you speechless and you are bound to think how these monasteries were built at this harsh landscape 1000 years ago. But at the same time you will be stuck by tranquility of these monasteries. No visit to Spiti valley is complete without visiting these majestic monasteries. Do visit these monasteries and interact with lama’s to gain some insight into Buddhism.
Key/Ki/Kee Monastery is by far the biggest monastery in Spiti Valley. It is also an important religious centre for Lamas. It is located on top of a hill at an altitude of 4,166 metres (13,668 ft) above sea level, close to the Spiti River, in the Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India.KyeGompa is said to have been founded by Dromton (Brom-ston, 1008-1064 CE), in the 11th century. Key Monastery was destroyed by invaders and rebuilt several times. In 1840 it caught fire and in 1975, it suffered extensive damage due to an earthquake. However, the repeated attacks did not steal the charm of this dazzling monastery and frequent renovation and reconstruction has helped it retain its beauty.
Tabo Monastery, also known as the ‘Ajanta of the Himalayas,’ is one of the most popular monasteries in the Lahaul and Spiti Valley. Itwas founded back in 996 A.D. This ancient structure stands on the barren, cold, and rocky desert of the Tabo valley at a height of 3050 meters. It has preserved the glorious heritage, traditions, and culture of Buddhism through the passage of centuries. The architecture of Tabo monastery is unlike any other Buddhist monasteries made only of mud. Tabois noted for being the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both India and the Himalayas.
DhankarMonastery is situated at an elevation of 3,894 metres in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar Village. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high cliff overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence,Dhangkar means fort on a cliff. It is around 1000 years old. Because of continuous erosion of cliff on which it is located, Dhankar Monastery is now in the list of endangered sites.
Lhalung Monastery also known as Golden Temple was one of the earliest monasteries founded in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. The name Lhalun literally means ‘land of the gods’ (lha = deities, devtas; lung= land, area) and it is said that the LhalungDevta is head of all the Devtas of the valley and emerges from the Tangmar mountain beyond the village. As per local folk fare mountain changes color depending on the moods of the devtas or deities, red showing anger, yellow, happiness.
Kungri Monastery belongs to Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism in the Pin valley in Lahaul and Spiti District, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. Kungri is Spiti’s second oldest monastery, built around 1330. The Gompa consists of three detached rectangular blocks facing east. One of the major attraction at Kungri monastery is the traditional ‘Devil Dance,’ which is performed in the month of July every year. Several tourists visit the monastery during this period to witness this popular dance. The sword dance is another popular dance form, which is an integral part of the tradition of the Nyingmapa.
The Tangyud Monastery is located in the village of Komicin the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. It was built like a fortified castle on the edge of a deep canyon, with massive slanted mud walls and battlements with vertical red ochre and white vertical stripes, which make them look much taller than they really are. It is one of the highest altitude gompas (monasteries) in India, at an altitude of 4,520 metres (14,830 ft), on the edge of a deep canyon. It is located on the periphery of the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary.