Posts Tagged With: Dhankar Monastery

An epic road trip to Spiti Valley, the Land of Lamas in India

For the last three weeks I have receiving lot of queries regarding travel to ‘Spiti Valley’. More so as we did the circuit with our 11 months old little baby ∞ The road trip that entails more than just planning your days, test of patience and display of mettle!!

So, I decided to share our story, experience and details again for the benefit of the fellow travelers. I have attempted to make this post as comprehensive as possible to serve like a helpful Travel Guide to Spiti. This post has actually been one of the most popular one on Untraveled Routes so far, it received 1000+ views within two days of posting 🙂 Finally here it is –

The Trans Himalayan voyage through Shimla – Kinnaur – Spiti Valley

We have done road trips before (Dainkund Peak, Betaab Valley, Mandhavgarh) but the one we were planning this time was totally different. We were bracing ourselves for the drive on one of the most treacherous and deadliest roads of the world. This time it was the thrill of NH-22 and Hindustan-Tibet road. This time we were going to be away in the majestic rocky deserted mountains, rugged terrains, vertical cliffs and cold desert valley.

And somehow our instincts convinced us that this was totally worth it.

Spiti was on our minds for a long time, an incessant zeal for travel gave us all the courage required to do this trip with our 11 months old baby boy – Aayansh. So we did it in April 2016!!! Gorgeous mountains, flawless cold desert valley, captivating culture, contagious love and warmth, beauty exuding from every quarter… Spiti Valley is a treat for soul.

Day 6 – The Ajanta of the Himalayas – TABO!!!

The changing landscape from luxurious green Kinnaur into white desert of Spiti valley will mesmerize you and leave impressions that will stay with you forever. Gradually, the tall green trees are substituted by gigantic rocks and tall mud structures; with the backdrop of Himalayas, it’s a sight to watch!!!

 

For hours we did not observe a single soul, it felt like we were on a different planet and landed there in our car for exploration. Though we crossed Himachal Tourism buses and almost every time it increased my heartbeat as the roads were so narrrow!!!

The rocky mountains were striking beautiful, carved aesthetically by nature. Huge expanse of land adorned only by nature was so appealing that you would want it to never end. The roads are mostly well maintained with bad patches here and there. For us, it was very crucial to sustain a particular speed for two big reasons – with the baby we could not drive for a long time, it was just tough for Aayansh and secondly since Ashish himself was driving throughout, our objective was to reach some place safe before 5.00 pm. So that we could select a hotel, enjoy the stay and get prepared for the next day. From Kalpa to Tabo in one single stretch was something!!!

Glimpse of Tabo

Read – Totally Tabo-ed!!

Day 7 – Finally Kaza

The distance from Tabo to Kaza is not much plus the roads are awesome!!! You are going to fall in love with the scenic beauty. Kaza is presently the headquarters of Spiti sub division. You will not find a lot to enjoy in Kaza itself but there’s a lot to cover around Kaza including:

  • Dhankar Monastery and Kungri Monastery
  • The largest monastery in Spiti Valley – Ki Gompa (1008 CE)
  • Kibber village and Gete, one of the most highest inhabited village
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These vibrant colors represent the Tangyud Monastery at Kaza

Read – The Sakya Tangyud Monastery at Kaza

Day 8 – Nako

Now we were on our way back, reluctantly though!!! Our next stop was Nako, we covered Kaza to Nako in a day. Nako is a tiny village, there’s not much to this place but the village is strategically located and therefore becomes a halting point. I remember vividly that when we were heading to Nako (while going to Spiti) the gigantic rocky mountains seemed unending and it was so windy that our car was literally shaking!!! And yeah while heading for Tabo we also spotted a Red Fox:) we tried to capture in the camera but couldn’t.

Buddha Nako Village

An idol of Buddha right outside the Monastery at Nako

Day 9 – Sangla

Nako to Sangla was again a tough journey; we had to encounter the dreadful bad patches again. While you are driving straight for some time at lower altitude till Karcham, to reach Sangla one again starts moving in circles, also the road is rock-strewn at few patches with blind turns. Sangla is located at an altitude of 2680 meters.

Sangla

The Pink Sky at Sangla 🙂

Day 10 – Chandigarh

This was the longest stretch. We covered Sangla to Shimla and then Shimla to Chandigarh in one single day. It was a drive of 10 – 12 hours, hats off to Ashish!!!

The bridge that connects to Rampur was closed because a truck broke down right on the bridge, this caused detour and slowed us down for at least by an hour. The next bottleneck was at Shimla city, it took us a long time to clear the traffic snarls.

Day 11 – Delhi

And we are back – Home Sweet Home!!!

We have more to share!!!

The story from this road trip does not end here:) We have so many amazing stories and wonderful pictures to share, so hope to see you again soon.

For 10 days we were in a life unimaginable in a metro!!! Away from all worldly affairs it seemed like different planet. It was intrepid and we are delighted to have done it.

Happy Exploring!!!

Suggested Reading

Categories: Adventure, Tour Spiti, Traveling with a Baby, Untraveled Routes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Dhankar, Spiti – the Heights that will make your heart go boom!!!

Tickling the travel bug with an offbeat treasure between Tabo and Kaza, Spiti Valley

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Also featured in “Tangy Picks” on Blogadda

Our visit to Tabo village had left us excited and yearning for more. After visiting the Tabo Gompa and taking a short walk in Tabo village we were ready to continue our 11 days Trans Himalayan voyage.

We began driving towards Kaza around 11 am (though our next stop was Dhankar); thankfully the road was straight and real smooth. The sun out there was bright enough to give us serious tan however the wind was chilly. And it was super windy!!!

Road to Tabo1

Take me wherever these roads go!!

Beautiful! Beautiful! Journey

Spiti River was accompanying us religiously; it looked so pristine and blue. We couldn’t hold back our excitement and decided to go closer and feel the water. We really wanted to stay more but the ruthless Sun and our restless Baby boy pushed us to drive further.

Spiti River.jpg

Pristine waters of Spiti River glorified by bright blue sky!!

The Entrance

It’s hard to miss the road to Dhankar; it’s beautiful and quite evident.

The Ascend

This is the ‘BEST’ part of visiting Dhankar. The magnificent views that your eyes witness will fill your heart with excitement beyond ordinary. There are many turns on this road and the views keep changing with every turn leaving one with great expectations.

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Ashish taking a quick break and enjoying the wind!! He deserved all the breaks after all he was the one driving throughout. The challenging and strenuous roads are nothing less than tight rope walk more so when there is a 11 months old little baby in a tow!!

As an encore the car keeps shaking most of the time owing to strong wind.

Road to Dhankar

There it is!! The picturesque Dhankar Village

Places to be visited

One peculiar thing about Spiti Valley is that it’s not really about sightseeing but more about enjoying the journey, adrenaline rush and spectacular nature.

Mostly at all the destinations you will find a Monastery (Gompa) and/or a Fort accompanied by amazing history and legends.

Dhankar- The Intriguing History!!

Dhankar stands tall at an altitude of 12,774 feet. Dhang/dang means cliff, and kar/khar means fort. Hence, the fort on a cliff is popularly known as ‘Dhankar’. The confluence of Spiti & Pin Rivers from this height is incredible!!!

Dhankar houses a 16th century old fort monastery; however one can see the new monastery now in the tiny village of Shichilling. The old monastery complex is also known as Lha-O-pa Gompa; it has five different halls and includes a number of multi-storied buildings. Don’t miss out on the Lhakhang Gompa – the Monastery of the followers of Lha-O, famous lama who was born in 1121. The highlight of the monastery is the a statue of Vairochana or Dhayan Buddha with 4 figures seated back to back.

Dhankar served as the ancient capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom in the 17th century. The Nonos, the former rulers of Spiti, chose this strategic high altitude village for competent control. The legends say that the monastery has also served as a prison in the former era.

The monastery is associated with Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism and has around 150 lamas residing in it.

Dhankar Landscape

What a gorgeous combination of chocolate dipped descending terrains and ice capped mountains!!! @Dhankar, Spiti Valley

The monasteries in Spiti Valley are mostly locked (at least in April they most certainly are) but the Monk usually opens it up on request for the visit. And sometimes the Monk will happily give you a tour explaining all the details about idols, scriptures, artifacts. We were not so lucky at Dhankar but at Tabo Gompa we met a super friendly Monk who spent so much time clarifying our doubts about Buddhism and Tibetan religion and culture.

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Landscape view of Dhankar, Spiti Valley

Dhankar Gompa / Monastery is declared as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world by World Monuments Fund in 2006. The ceilings and walls mostly made of wood are in dilapidated condition yet the beauty is eternal.

If you liked reading about Dhankar, then this might interest you too –

The Epic Road Trip to Spiti Valley

Totally Tabo-ed!!!

Sarahan – Abode of Goddess Bhimalkali

Majestic Mountain Range at Kalpa!!!

Happy Exploring!!

Cheers, Untraveled Routes
Categories: India, Offbeat Travel, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

The road that leads to Spiti Valley (III)

This article is part of the series ‘The road that leads to Spiti Valley‘.

Finally! Spiti it is !!

I’m as much excited to write this post and share the captivating pictures with fellow travelers and readers. The best part about the ‘Road Trip to Spiti Valley‘ is that the surrounding views change in every few minutes leaving you with a feeling of surprise and appreciation for nature.

The 10 day long enduring road trip that we did to Spiti Valley seemed totally worth once we crossed Nako!!! From the Kinnaur route, one enters Spiti Valley via Sumdo.

Tabo Road.jpg

Heading to Tabo!!

The road is a bit rock strewn at intervals but mostly it’s a smooth ride. In April’16, lot of work was going on the roads till Tabo, I’m assuming by now the roads must be in perfect condition.

Road to Tabo.jpg

Wondering what to do in Tabo village, just check out ‘Totally Tabo -ed‘, a detailed post on visit to Tabo Village!!!

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Tabo, here we come!!!

Road to Dhankar

Road to Dhankar, Spiti. This route happens to be my favorite, the landscape views of ice capped mountains in combination with chocolate hills and Spiti River flowing by, so divine!!!

Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, Offbeat Travel, Photography, Road Trip, Spiti Valley, Tour Spiti | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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