DAY 5 - TABO- DHANKAR- KAZA
Finally, we are in Spiti. Till now we were in Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh. I was the first one to be up in the morning. I reached for my camera and was out of the hotel to explore the small and silent village, Tabo. It’s primary attraction is the Tabo Monastey and that is where I headed. The town itself is an island of peace and tranquility, secluded from the rest of the world.
|Tabo Monastery Entrance|
|New Monastery at Tabo|
The old monastery consists of mud gompas which was surrounded by dry mountains of the region. Inside the monastery there are no lights. You are advised to carry a torch or use the torch light from your mobile phones. The interior architecture of the monastery is breath taking and beautiful with numerous wooden pillars and paintings of reincarnation of Buddha. Just when you enter the old monastery you can buy small Buddhist trinkets and postcards as souvenirs from Tabo.
From the monastery you can see the caves where the monks went to for solitary meditation. It is said that some of them are still used by monks for meditation. If you are game, you can trek and use these caves for meditation as well.
You will find a large – “om ma ni padme hum” written on the mountain face. You will also find colorful prayer flags flying on top of every house. As we took a round around the place we saw small kids playing soccer… and that too not just kicking around the ball, but dodging and controlling the ball deftly. People amongst us were facing problem breathing and here were these kids, running around and playing soccer gleefully… wow…
We were also fortunate to see a glimpse of a wedding taking place in Tabo.
After visiting the thousand
year old monastery at Tabo, we started towards Dhankar. Dhankar is another
small town but at a much higher altitude than Tabo and has a very old
monastery. The drive to Dhankar became more and more beautiful. It overlooks
the fusion of two rivers – Pin & Spiti. At Dhankar, there are two
monasteries – New Monastery and old monastery. The old monastery is an
endangered site as it is very old but has stood the test of time. The monastery
is simple and looks beautiful from afar, perched on a hilltop.
|Dhankar Monastery Entrance|
|New Monastery at Dhankar|
|View while Trekking to Dhankar Lake|
|In the middle of Nowhere|
|Horses near Dhankar Lake|
Post a fulfilling Chinese lunch we headed to Kaza – the head quarter of Spiti district. We were staying in Kaza for three nights and seeing many small villages nearby – Kye, Khibber, Komic, Langza and Hikkim.
By the time we reached Kaza, the sun was about to set and we
were tired. We checked in our hotel – Sakya Abode and decided to rest. The
attendant brought us hot tea and we were in seventh heaven. We were informed by
the attendant that the hotel is the first hotel of Kaza and is built in
accordance with old architecture. It is made of mud and is thus cold
We all sat in one room and played Uno. Post dinner, the hotel manager gave a home-made remedy (ginger, garlic in boiling water) to Nikhil and Nikki who were facing breathing problem while sleeping.
DAY 6 - KAZA- KYE- KHIBBER- KAZA
As usual I was up early and decided to go for a stroll. But this time I had Pramod and Nikki to give me company. Just 2 mins walk from our hotel was Kaza Monastery. It was beautiful. Our timing for our early morning visit was bang on. Just when we entered the monastery two monks started blowing shanks (conch shell). It was a call for all the monks to gather at the monastery for prayers.
saw monks of all age and build running to the monastery from all the directions
with cups in hand. I think after the prayers they will all be given hot tea and
snacks. Once all the monks were settled in the monastery they started chanting
and we could just stand there and listen. Their chanting brought peace in our
|Monastery at Kaza|
After listening to their chanting for some time we decided to continue our walk and saw seven stupas right infront of the monastery. Moving forward we saw the highest petrol pump in the world of Indian Oil.
strolling for some time and witnessing the village waking up we headed back to
|Stupas infront of the monastery|
After a good shower and garam garam aloo ke parathe we headed for Kye and Khibber Village. The drive between Kaza to Khibber is surreal. The mountains are huge and you can see different shades of colors covering the mountains. After a small drive (as compared to the drive we have been undertaking) we reached the village – Khibber. It was a very small village at a picturesque location. If I am not wrong, at 14,200 ft it is one of the highest inhabited village and the highest polling station in the world.
While we were walking in the village and
heading to the monastery in Khibber we realized that the village is empty. All
the houses are locked and there is practically no one. May be the entire
village have gone to their small patches of land where they grow vegetables for
|Houses at Khibber|
|View from Monastery|
|Three statues in Golden near Kye Monastery|
|Vibrant Market at Kaza|
After loads of shopping we headed back to the hotel. Like yesterday we again made ourselves cozy in one room, called for coffee and started playing UNO. (Uno by now has become our favorite game in this trip).
Today for dinner the hotel has made authentic Spiti food. It’s more like steamed cooked food. The soup served was delicious. The main course not so mice but if you are fond of momos or steam cooked food you will like it. They had also given a potato curry which had pasta like thing in that. It was yummy. Remember the chutney served is very spicy – be careful.
Post dinner and the ritual hot water with ginger and garlic (today’s was stronger than yesterday) for Nikhil and Nikki we called off the day.
Points to Note:
- Book an Innova or a Xylo for a comfortable travel. As the roads are bad travel in Sumo or Maxx can be cumbersome.
- Although the distance between places (at times) is not far because of the rough terrain it takes a considerable time to go from one place to another. So plan accordingly.
- It is advised to start your day early and reach your destination while it is daylight. Please avoid driving once the sun sets. Driving in dark can be very dangerous.
- Please carry warm clothes including sweater, jacket, cap, mufflers, socks and gloves. Wear shoes and not sandals or chappals.
- Be easy on steps and while walking. Avoid brisk walk or running at high altitudes as the oxygen level is low.
- If you are feeling mountain sickness have chocolate or popcorn. It helps. Make it a point of sipping in water regularly.
- Please don’t litter and maintain the beauty of nature.
- Do stop over at Dhankar to see the monastery and have lunch while appreciating the view.
- Dhankar Lake is a three to four kms trek uphill. It is not meant for everyone. Trekking at high altitude is a very serious affair. Only and only if you think you are fit go ahead else the moment you start feeling uneasy stop and rest. Once you feel better start trekking downhill.
- In Kaza we stayed at Hotel Sakya Abode. The rooms were a little small but were built in accordance with old architecture. It is made of mud and is thus cold resistant. The staff and restaurant of this hotel is excellent. Must stay at Kaza.
- The monastery and the temple at Kaza is a three mins walk from the hotel.
- Don't forget to stop over and appreciate the views. After all the journey is as important as the destination.