One of the most remarkable sites into Spiti Valley is the Dhankar monastery which is located on the way to Tabo from Kaza. It is an untouched beauty which was the traditional capital of Spiti Valley back in history.
Dhan means a ‘cliff’ and kar means a ‘fort’. It is fort built on a cliff, hence the name Dhankar. The Dhankar lake and the fort add on to its beauty. Its astonishing architecture and breathtaking location make it a must visit place when you are in the Spiti Valley.
Dhankar monastery or Dhankar gompa is a Buddhist monastery located in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal in India. Located at an elevation of 3894 metres this monastery lies between the town of Kaza and Tabo.
It has one of the most stunning locations resting over a complex built on 300 metres high spur open out over the Confluence of Spiti and pin river. There is a new monastery built below the old monastery in the village of Shichilling.
The old monastery is around 1000 years old and can be reached only by small vehicles. There are around 150 monks who reside here for studies of Tibetan Buddhism. Dhankar means a place in the Mountain that can be reached easily by the visitors by small.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Dhankar monastery is during the summer months of April and May Avoid visiting Dhankar during the monsoon season is there may be cases of a landslide because of the kind of soil it has.
The Other good time to visit the monastery is during the month of September and October at this time the temperature will fall and days and nights will be colder as compared to the months of April, May and June.
How to Reach Dhankar Monastery
Dhankar village is connected to Spiti Valley through a small motorable road, One can access the village by small vehicles only. The small village of Schichling is at a distance of 24 km from Kaza 22 kilometres from Tabo. No public transport is available till Dhankar and one has to take a taxi from Tabo in order to reach here.
As public transport is available only up to Schichling village you can either take a taxi to Dhankar or you can trek this 8-kilometre distance. The village of Dhankar is a small village which is untouched and has very less population. The houses here seem to be embedded in the hills.
Stay at Dhankar
There are 2-3 hotels and two guest houses in the village where you can stay. If you want to have a nice stay at uncle basic facilities then opt for hotels which cost you little more than homestays. Homestays are available there at cheap prices. You have to choose one according to your comfort.
One can also visit the monastery and come back to Tabo or Kaza after the visit. There is electricity present in the village but no network connection is there. Only one landline connection is at the new monastery for emergency purpose.
Dhankar monastery is one of the most amazing landmarks of Spiti Valley with stunning views and eye-catching landscapes. One can find Buddhist scriptures written in Bhoti language, there are murals and deities too.
There is a statue of Vairocana consisting of four figures seated back to back along with some thangkas. One can also see is a small museum called “Rural Museum’ in the gompa which displays the local tradition and culture of the place.
A new road connects the old ministry to the new monastery it was built for the Dalai Lama when he comes to visit it. The new monastery was built due to the declining condition of the old monastery.
Other places to visit in Dhankar
Dhankar Fort is situated just above the monastery. Its main structure is supported on a cliff base it can be released by hiking from the monastery through a narrow route. Dhankar was the capital of Spiti Valley during the 17th century.
The fort was then the seat of the early rulers of Spiti. The repeated attacks from enemies have caused destruction. It has worsened the condition of the fort but still, it is a place worth visiting and to experience the historical treasure. World Monument Fund selected it as one of the 100 endangered sites in the world.
Dhankar lake is situated at a distance of 3 km metres from the village at an elevation of 4,517 metres. One has to climb from the monastery order village to reach there.
It can be a little difficult for some travellers at times but the mesmerising scene of the Dhankar lake is worth the hard work. Beside Dhankar lake and the Fort there are are other trekking options if you want to explore the place.
Dhankar is a small village with a total population of not even 100 families. Sarpanch is the head of the village. They lead a very simple lifestyle. There is the facility of electricity but power cuts are common. Networks are not available. You can get a simple homemade food here. Locals celebrate the festival of Cham in the month of July.
This was all about the Dhankar Monastery and Dhankar Village. The richness of the place in its history and culture attracts everyone to visit it. One should definitely visit Dhankar Monastery on their visit to Spiti Valley.