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Anupriya Bedi Mar 21 2014

Which are the best places to see around Tabo?

Benazir Khan Mar 21 2014
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Dhankar (35 km)

Once the capital of the Spiti waziri, Dhankar is now a tiny village. The early 16th-century fort-monastery Dhankar Gompa (12,763 ft), which once also served as a jail, is wedged between the pinnacles of a razor-sharp spur of crumbling rock and alkaline deposits.

Today it has about 150 lamas in residence. It has a collection of Bhotia Buddhist scriptures, a four-bodied Dhyani Buddha and murals of Medicine Buddhas and protector deities. The gompa is a steep climb of about 2 hours from a point 2 km away, beyond Shichling on the main road.

A photo of Dhankar (by Wildestseas)

The motorable road is an 8-km detour from SH30 on the leg that connects Tabo with Kaza. Stay options are limited — the monastery has two rooms for visitors. A
new monastery, built 1 km downhill from the old site, is a good place to find a local guide to show you around.

Much talked about for its carved wood panelling, Lhalung Gompa is another 9-km detour from SH30 on its Tabo-Kaza link. It can also be reached after a 2-hr, not-so-easy, not-quite punishing trek from Dhankar.

Kaza (50 km)

The administrative centre and transport hub of Spiti sub-district is an excellent
base for your explorations of the Spiti monastery circuit. since this is the most developed part of the region, most of the hotels in Lahaul-spiti are located here. The ‘old town’ around the new bus stand is a maze of shops, hotels and whitewashed houses. The ‘new town’, across the creek, is a motley cluster of tin-roofed government buildings, including the sub-divisional magistrate’s (SDM) office, where foreign nationals can get the inner-line permits required for Spiti and Upper Kinnaur. There’s an attractive one-day trek from here to Hikim and Kaumik villages.

A photo of Kaza (by Simon)

Banjara Retreat

Tel: +91-11-26861397, 26855153,
Mob: +91-94595-20640;
Tariff: INR 4,250-5,150

in Kaza (11,942 ft) has 11 rooms with attached baths and hot water. The tariff includes meals.

Sakya Abode

Contact Tshering,

Tel: +91-1906-222254,
Mob: +91-94185-56213;
Tariff: INR 200-900.

It has rooms with attached baths and running hot water. It has a restaurant and a wifi connection.

Snow Line

Mob: +91-94182-08987;
Tariff: INR 990-1,860.

It has 14 rooms with a restaurant and travel desk.

Ki (54 km)

Possibly founded in the 13th century, Ki is certainly the largest monastery in Spiti. The prayer chambers are interconnected by dark passages, tortuous staircases and small doors. From a distance, it looks deceptively like the Thiksey Monastery near Leh in Ladakh, but the illusion fades as you get closer.

Ki is best reached from Kaza (14 km), and has about 300 lamas in residence. At 13,504 ft, it is built, like most Buddhist formations of the time, at an elevation from the village. The gompa is an irregular heap of low rooms and narrow corridors sitting atop a monolithic, conical hill.

A photo of Ki Gompa Monastery (by Etan Doronne)

Locals make the unlikely claim that this monastery too was built by Rinchen Tsangpo, a belief deceptively lent some credence by the fact that the Ki Gompa is now the seat of Lochen Tulku, the 17th incarnation of ‘the revered founder’.

The gompa belongs (again like most monasteries in the region) to the Gelugpa sect of Mahayana Buddhism. It has withstood at least three documented Sikh and Dogra invasions in the 19th century (and presumably some before that), and an earthquake in 1975.

Although it must have yielded some of its considerable art treasures to these marauders, it still has a priceless collection of thangkas and rare manuscripts, besides weapons and quite an array of wind instruments that feature prominently during the Chaam Festival, celebrated in June-July.

Kibber (64 km)

From Kaza, a road to the north-east goes to Kibber (13,796 ft), once part of the
overland salt trade. It has a school, a post office, a bank, a few small guest
houses — and from the look of it, more creatures on four legs (mostly sheep)
than two. But they are, as the clichè goes about mountain people, extremely
‘warm and hospitable’.

A photo of Kibber Village (by 4ocima)

Walking up to its monastery high above the village through the narrow, steep, treacherous passageways is guaranteed to give failed mountaineers the thrill of ‘doing’ Everest without venturing anywhere near it. Kibber has the somewhat
doubtful claim to being the highest village in the world; at 14,009 ft, Gette
(7 km east of Ki) has a more convincing claim to that fame. The Ladarcha Festival, a unique take in comparison with the Kullu Dussehra Festival held near Kibber in July every year, attracts Buddhists from far.

Pin Valley National Park (80 km)

Tourist agencies call this pastureland south of Dhankar (675 sq km with a
buffer zone of 1,150 sq km) ‘the land of the ibex and snow leopard’. But in the
summer months, you’ll be lucky to see anything bigger than a marmot. But a
trip to this beautiful valley - the Pin Valley National Park is reward enough.

A photo of Kaza (by Simon)

The most important monastery in this valley, which has Spiti’s only concentration of Nyingmapa Buddhists, is the 600-year-old Kungri Gompa, 2 km off the main road near Gulling. This is trekking and camping country; accommodation is limited. Access from Kaza is by bus, till Mikim, from where you have to walk to the park.

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