Spiti is more of a mystery to resolve and an addiction to combat. The pictures or the readings can never say enough about the charm it accounts for. But the more you get in to explore, the more it traps you in its labyrinth of surprises and facts.
Visiting Spiti was no less than a dream for me, have stayed on my bucket list from always and finally the time came. Before going to Kaza, I stayed in the Tabo village and so I visited the thousand year old and the largest, Tabo Monastery.
Tabo Monastery –
The Tabo Monastery is one of the most pious, biggest and oldest surviving Buddhist establishment in the Trans-Himalayas. It was developed as an advanced center for learning and till date it has managed to preserve the Buddhist legacy with the same steadfastness. Flanked on either side by hills, surrounded by high boundary walls made of mud bricks, the monastery stands at a secluded, barren ground in the bottom of the valley.I was welcomed at the monastery by the Buddhist chantings. Early morning, cold breeze and bliss. I headed toward the assembly hall from where the sound was coming. After the prayer was over, a lama explained me the significance of these chantings and then guided on the details of the assembly hall, wall paintings, clay structure and other temples.
The monastery complex comprises of 9 temples, 23 chortens, a monk’s chamber and an extension that houses the nuns chamber. The monastery’s importance can be judged from the fact that its significance is second only to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet in the entire Himalayan region. Tabo is famous for its beautiful paintings and stucco sculptures which bear a striking resemblance with the paintings and sculpture in the Ajanta caves. The monastery also treasures some centuries old paintings which are not allowed to be photographed.
Above the monastery, there are a number of caves carved into the cliff face used by monks for meditation. It is believed to be used as abode for the Buddhist monks during the winters of the Himalayas. There was a big cave that was originally utilized as an assembly hall by the Buddhist monks. Most other caves were mainly used for the purpose of lodging and dwelling. Prayer flags outside these caves signifies that these caves are still used by monks for meditation.
I next went to a village of 5oo years old mummy which was a wonderful experience. After reaching Kaza, I checked-in to my hotel and rested for a while.
Tip: While the Monastery is always open, the temples and assembly hall of monastery opens at 5 AM in the morning and gets closed by 5 PM in the evening.