Ki Monastery & Tabo Monastery at Spiti Valley Known for It’s Cinematography

Spiti Valley is a Himalayan desert mountain valley known for its spellbound scenery. The valley is in Spiti and Lahaul districts of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is located in between India and Tibet. Spiti means ‘The Middle Land’ and hence the name. Spiti Valley and nearby areas are the gateway to the northern reaches of India. District headquarters of Spiti and Lahul are separated from the Kullu Valley by ‘The Rohtang Pass‘, situated at an altitude of 13054 feet.

Ki Monastery in Spiti ValleyKi Monastery (also spelt as Key Monastery  or Kee Monastery or Kye Monastery) in Spiti Valley

Spiti Valley locals follow Vajrayana Buddhism which Buddhism followed by people in Ladakh and Tibet. Kye Gompa alias Key monastery and Tabo Monastery are situated in this region. Key monastery is also known by slightly different names like Kee Monastery  or Key Gompa, Ki  Monastery  or Ki Gompa, Kee Monastery or Kee Gompa. Tabo Monastery or Tabo Gompa is the Largest monastery in Spiti. They are among the oldest Buddhist monasteries in the world. Dalai lama his holiness has visited these monasteries many a times.  (Gompa  means Monastery.)

Welcome to Spiti Valley BoardWelcome to Spiti Valley Board

Spiti River originates from this valley. Pin valley is another famous valley in this area.

Bhrigu Lake, named after Maharishi Bhrigu (Maharishi means Great Hindu Sage), is at an altitude of around 14,100 feet on Garhwal Himalayas. It is situated east of Rohtang Pass, at a distance of around 6 kilometers from Gulaba village. Bhrigu  lake is also close to Manali.

Moves shot at Spiti Valley

Hindi movie Paap (Sin in English), Pooja Bhatt’s directorial debut was shot at Spiti valley. This film scored very high for its cinematography. Another film “Milarepa”, about the life of the famous Tibetan Saint and tantric yogi, Melarepa, was also shot at Spiti Valley, near the International Border between India and Tibet. Milarepa, a Tibetan language film, was directed by a Lama from Western Bhutan, Neten Chokling. This movie is also known for its cinematography. Milarepa is considered as a national hero in Buddhist regions in India, Tibet, China, Pakistan, etc.

How Do I Go To Spiti Valley?

Spiti Valley is at a distance of 412 kilometers from Shimla, via Kinnaur. The Valley is accessible all through the year through this route. In summer season, you can enter Spiti from Manali via Rohtang pass & Kunzum pass and the distance is around half the distance of the other route through Kinnaur.

Inner Line Permits

Inner line permit is required for non-Indian citizens, to enter Spiti Valley, via Kinnaur. Indians need to carry a valid photo ID card to prove nationality and does not require any entry permit.

Dharamsala

McLeod Ganj at Dharamsala; Central Tibetan Administration HQ and Home to Dalai Lama

Dharamsala or Dharamshala is a small town where the Central Tibetan Administration Headquarters is situated. It is situated in Himachal Pradesh state, India.


McLeod Ganj and the snowy peaks near Dharamsala

McLeod Ganj town, Central Tibetan Administration Headquarters and Hill station in Dharamsala – Image Courtesy : Wikimedia

Dharamsala is beautiful hill station at an average altitude of 1,457 meters  or 4780 feet above sea level, with snow-capped Himalayas as the backdrop. It is is at a distance of 18 kilometers from Kangra, the district head quarters.

History About Central Tibetan Administration

Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, established Dharamshala as his residence and the headquarters of the ‘Central Tibetan Administration’, the Tibetan government in Exile, after his exile from Tibet, following the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The headquarters was initially at Mussoorie and was shifted to Dharamsala in 1960. The 14th Dalai Lama and thousands and thousands of his Tibetan Buddhist followers in exile were allowed to establish their base in Dharamsala by India. To teach their children about teachings of Buddha and to impart them with their Language, culture, religion, history, etc, his holiness the Dalai Lama established schools in the region. HH Dalai Lama (HH denotes His Holiness) also helped those in exile in agricultural settlement.

Central Tibetan Administration in McLeodGanj is situated just above Dharamsala town. McLeod Ganj is the most famous tourist destination at Dharamsala. It is also known as “Little Lhasa“. Lhasa is the administrative capital of Tibet.

Other than the schools on Buddhist teachings, they also undertake development projects for the welfare of Tibetan’s health, cultural and economic development. Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts was established in the year 1959 and Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies was established as the primary university for Tibetan higher education in India. Many of the monasteries and nunneries were re-founded by the Dalai Lama.

Places to visit in Dharamshala

Dalali Lama’s Residence inside Tsuglagkhang Complex at McLeod Ganj

Tsuglagkhang Complex contains the residence of  the 14th Dalai Lama and a Tibetan Museum.

There is a massive statue of Lord Buddha inside the complex, along with other statues.

Kora is the act of walking around the Tsuglagkhang  complex in clock-wise direction. It offers splendid view of the temple.

The complex is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Namgyal Gompa alias Dalai Lama’s Temple (Dalai Lama’s residence)

Namgyal Gompa alias Dalai Lama’s Temple is the official residence (Photang) of the His Holiness Dalai Lama.

Anybody can go inside Namgyal Gompa (monastery), irrespective of religion. Only condition is you need to keep silence. This monastery is the personal monastery of the Dalai Lama. It is also known as Namgyal Tantric College.

If you are lucky, you may come across Dalai Lama, during public teachings. Its free of cost. If you want to listen to the Teachings of Dalai Lama in person, you need to  register months in advance. He teachings here are in Tibetan language.

In May 2011, Dalai lama his holiness has retired from political responsibilities. These responsibilities were transferred to the Central Tibetan Administration.

You can see the some of the monks debating in groups, normally in the afternoons. There are around 200 monks at this gompa.

There are a lot of prayer bells (in the shape of barrels) all around this Buddhist temple or gompa . You need to turn it clockwise, to get the effect of reciting that prayer. Don’t stop prayer, when the wheel is turning.

Tibetan Museum

There is also a Tibetan museum inside Tsuglagkhang complex.

The Tibetan museum shows photos and videos of Chinese invasion of Tibet. At 3 p.m, there is a documentary. This Museum is closed on Mondays.

Dal Lake Near McLeod Ganj

Dal Lake near McLeod Ganj is considered as a sacred lake by many. It is believed that bathing in this lake washes one of his or her sins.Hence it is known as Poor man’s Kailash. (Pilgrims of several religions in India believe that going to Mount Kailash on foot will bring good fortune.)

View Point

View point is at around two or three kilometers from the above mentioned Dal lake.

St. John in the Wilderness Church

St. John in the Wilderness Church or St. John Church, is one of the oldest churches, on the way to McLeod Ganj. It was built in 1852. It is a CNI (Church of North India) church.

The massive Kangra earthquake of 1905 destroyed the church bell tower. (This earthquake killed an estimated 19,800 people.) A new bell was cast in 1915 , which was brought from England and was installed outside the church.

Graveyard of Lord Elgin, who served as the Governor-General & Viceroy of India, can be seen here.

Dharamsala Cricket Stadium

Dharamsala Cricket Stadium is the world’s top most high altitude cricket stadium.

Kangra Fort

Kangra Fort is believed to be the oldest dated fort in India. It is the largest fort in the Himalayas, for sure. It is at around 20 kilometers from Dharamsala, at Kangra. It is on the outskirts of Dharamsala.

Dharamsala Volunteering Work

Opportunities for volunteering work among Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala is available. Lha Charitable Trust is the pioneers in this field, working among the Tibetan refugees at Dharamsala, from 1997 on-wards. Skilled and unskilled individuals can work here as a volunteer, directly with Lha Charitable Trust.

How Do I Go To Central Tibetan Administration HQ and Hill Station Town of Dharamsala?

There are frequent night buses from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, etc, to Dharamsala.

Dharamsala-Kangra Airport at Gaggal (IOTA code is DHM) serves as the link between Dharamsala and the rest of the world for air travelers The airport is also called Gaggal Airport.

The nearest rail head on the broad gauge railway network (and nearest major rail-head) of Indian railways is Pathankot.  The nearest rail head is ‘Chamunda Marg’, on a narrow gauge railway line, in Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh state.

How Do I Go To Dharamsala from Delhi?

Manju Ka Tila, a Tibtan colony in Delhi, is one of the starting point of buses to Dharamsala. There are many Air conditioned Volvo buses from here.

Bedi Travels is one of the top rated buses to Dharamsala from Delhi. They also operate buses to other places in Himachal Pradesh.

The Divine Hima, a Botique luxary Hotel

The Divine Hima is a luxury boutique hotel with a cafe and an art gallery at Dharamshala. They have some of the best wines, too. The room tariff for 3 nights and 4 days (package), on a twin sharing basis, is Rs 59000. The Divine Hima is situated a little away the town. But is worth the salt.