Dhankar Monastery rises as a majestic monastic fortress in the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Perched on a 1,000-foot mountain spur, it offers an impressive view of the confluence of the Spiti and Pin rivers. Aptly named “Dhangkar” in the local dialect, meaning “rock” and “cliff,” this architectural marvel offers mesmerizing views of the sprawling Spiti Valley.
A Journey Through Time: Tracing the History of Dhankar Monastery
Once the ancestral home of the Nonos, the royal family of Spiti, Dhankar Fortress served as a strategic stronghold against enemies. In addition to its defensive function, this remarkable structure also played an important role as a prison in the history of Spiti. Today the monastery, especially its base, suffers from the ravages of time, with soil erosion caused by rain and wind exacerbating its dilapidated condition.
Embrace spiritual eminence : the importance of the monastery Dhankar
Dhankar Monastery is an influential center of Buddhist scholarship that has held the rich heritage of Buddhism since the seventh century. It is the second highest monastery in the world after the famous Key Monastery, also located in the Spiti Valley. A new monastery was built in Shichilling village, near to Dhankar Monastery that houses about 150 lamas and promotes spiritual growth and enlightenment.
A Tapestry of Time: Ancient Murals and Paintings
Belonging to the Gelugpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism, Dhankar Monastery has a magnificent collection of ancient murals, exquisite thangkas and priceless Buddhist scriptures. The centerpiece of the monastery is the statue of Vairochana, the meditating Buddha, which serves as a focal point for worship and reverence. Enter the sacred halls of the monastery and be enchanted by a series of 15th century murals that bring history to life.
Explore the enchanting surroundings: nearby attractions
Outside the confines of Dhankar Monastery, a wealth of wonders awaits the intrepid traveler.
The small village of Dhankar having the same name as the Monastery, is located at an altitude of over 3,800 meters. It is connected to the rest of the valley by a passable road. Dhankar village is located 32 km from Kaza, the nearest major town. Dhankar village is one of the highest points where world famous architectural works are located. From Dhankhar village there is a direct ascent to Dhankhar Lake.
A Pristine Oasis Dhankar Lake
Just 2.5 km from the monastery, the enchanting Dhankar Lake lies amidst glacier mountains. At an altitude of 4270 meters above sea level, this azure jewel beckons with its serenity and charm. The crystal clear water reflects the surrounding mountains and immerses visitors in a heavenly atmosphere.
Dhankar Lake Trek
Accessible only on foot, the Dhankar Lake Trek rewards adventurers with an unparalleled sight: Surrounded by pink and brown hills, the pristine beauty of the lake provides an idyllic campsite for those seeking tranquility. At the sight of the undisturbed water, surrounded by the splendor of nature, you will be overcome with a sense of tranquility and spiritual harmony.
For those who long to delve deeper into spiritual realms, a visit to Tabo Monastery is highly recommended. This ancient shrine is located 12 km from Kaza and houses fascinating scriptures and paintings of Buddha and revered goddesses. The Lhakang Gompa is adorned with magnificent murals depicting the life of the Buddha, reflecting the essence of devotion and artistic brilliance. Looking through the windows, a panoramic view of the valley and majestic mountain ranges opens up to you.
Where to Stay in Dhankar Monastery
Unwind and relax in the soothing embrace of Dhankar village, which offers a range of accommodations to suit the needs of all travelers. Hotel Dhankar Heights, Tashi Homestay and Dhankar Homestay are among the popular accommodations that offer a cozy getaway amidst the breathtaking surroundings.
Where to Eat
The village of Dhankar may not boast of extravagant restaurants, but there are only small dining establishments in Dhankar. However, your hotel or home stay will be able to provide you with decent food. The village of Dhankar is predominantly vegetarian.
The symphony of nature: the weather in Dhankar
Dhankar has a temperate climate with abundant rainfall in summer and relatively dry winters. The average annual temperature is 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit), accompanied by about 248 mm of rainfall per year. In summer, the Spiti Valley experiences pleasant temperatures of about 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day, while nights are cooler between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius (39.2 and 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
The perfect time to have an adventure: The best time to visit
To have an unforgettable experience at Dhankar Monastery and its surroundings, you should plan your visit between May and October. Visits in winter are also possible, but it is important to consider the weather conditions and make the necessary preparations to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Unveiling the path to Dhankar Monastery: how to reach it
Getting to Dhankar is only possible by land, with two popular routes from Shimla or Manali.
From Shimla to Dhankar
From Shimla, take a 10-hour drive of about 360 km to Tabo, followed by a scenic 48 km drive to Kaza. Finally, a 32 km stretch separates Tabo from the fascinating monastery of Dhankar.
From Manali to Dhankar
In contrast, the route from Manali offers a shorter stretch of 183 km to Kaza, passing through the magnificent Atal Tunnel. After exiting the tunnel, turn right towards the Spiti Valley, pass through Batal and the Kunzum Pass, and finally reach Kaza. From Kaza it is only 33 km to Dhankar, which offers a fascinating journey through the heart of the mountains.
In conclusion, Dhankar Monastery is a testimony to the rich cultural heritage and spiritual significance of the Spiti Valley. Its towering presence on a mountain spur offers a breathtaking view of the picturesque landscape below. From the ancient murals and paintings within its walls to the tranquil shores of Dhankar Lake, every aspect of this hidden gem leaves a lasting impression.
As you walk the path of enlightenment and immerse yourself in the serenity of the monastery, you will discover a deep connection to the traditions and teachings of Buddhism. The journey to Dhankar Monastery is not only a physical exploration, but also a spiritual awakening.
Whether you take a hike through rugged terrain, admire the ancient artwork, or simply find solace in the peaceful atmosphere, Dhankar Monastery promises an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and be captivated by the timeless beauty and tranquility that awaits you at Dhankar Monastery in the heart of the Spiti Valley.
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