It was June 22nd, 2017 and this was the day we had to leave for our next destination Kaza. Last evening I was told by Dhaniram that I could join the morning prayers with the monks at 6 am and I was super excited about that! I could not afford to miss it, therefore, I was up at 5 am and was at the monastery at 6 am! This wasn’t the old monastery or the new one but was the one which was in the monk’s residence. They were using it temporarily until the new one gets inaugurated.
Note – My previous blog posts and videos on this journey are listed below –
My day, therefore, started in an amazing way. Joining those monks in their morning prayers was amazing! They started sharp at 6 am and ended around 8 am. The chantings were so relaxing and getting a chance to sit with them and observe how they pray was an amazing experience! The scripts were all in Tibetian language which I obviously can’t read or speak, so I was just sitting and listening and watching! I did not get bored for even a single moment! They were so generous that they offered me tea from their share to which I politely refused. After the prayers were over all of them stood up and walked out and the door was closed.
I went back to the hotel and did some remaining packing, had breakfast, thanked Dhaniram and left for Kaza. We were to go via Dhankar which has one of the very old monasteries of the region. The drive towards Kaza was extremely gorgeous! The huge barren mountains and the clouds creating shadows over them was a treat to watch. The straight long roads with mountains on either side and the drive along side of the Spiti river were just so beautiful! The view was getting better and better as we were going ahead.
After an hour or two we finally reached Dhankar and we started our climb on the hill towards the monastery and after 8 km, we could see the monastery from a distance. Its peculiar structure and even more peculiar hill that it stands on, can’t be missed. We reached near the monastery and the road was pretty narrow with no way to turn around. We did regret bringing our XUV this far as being a big one it was even more difficult to turn it around. We got some help from a local who kept a few rocks at the back to determine the space and by taking tiny turns forward and back, Manish was finally able to turn it around. It was certainly super scary situation! Manish handled it amazingly well.
In the mean while, I went inside the Dhankar Monastery. The monastery has many small and big rooms built on top of each other. Most of the rooms are built inside the hill by carving the rock out and then adding wood for some warmth. All the rooms below like some prayer rooms and Stupa room were pretty dark inside and the only source of light were small windows. The doors are very small so that you bend your head down while entering. The ceiling of the Stupa room was extremely low and I couldn’t even stand straight. I was bowing the whole time I was in that room.
The stairs of the monastery were all carved from the hill rock and the passages were pretty narrow but well lit. The age of this monastery was also pretty evident. Dhankar was the traditional capital of the Spiti Valley region in the 17th Century and it was built as a fort monastery which was home to about 90 monks in 1855 reportedly. When I reached the top floor I saw the monks and the main monastery room. The camera wasn’t allowed in that one so I don’t have any pictures but I can tell you that the statue inside was one of the most beautiful ones I had ever seen!! There was a meditation room just adjacent to that and it was like a cave. The ceiling was low and was made of the mountain rock. I would call it a cave with a door. The ceiling was completely black in color and that was due to the burning of diyas day and night for centuries!
After viewing a couple of more prayer rooms I came downstairs and back to the car. Initially, our plan was to visit Dhankar and La Lung monastery. We did actually start for La Lung but we weren’t sure of the route. After a few km, we realized that we might have skipped the road towards La Lung. Due to this, we weren’t able to visit that. We continued towards Kaza and after another couple of hours, we reached there. Kaza is a big city with a big marketplace, lots of people, cafes, hotels, etc. We reached our hotel, checked-in and then we decided to walk down to the market to have our lunch.
Distance Covered on Day 6 –
Tabo to Dhankar Gompa – 31.4 km
Dhankar Gompa to Kaza – 33.6 km
Total Distance from Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar – 65 km
We spotted the famously looking “The Himalayan Cafe” and that’s where we had our lunch. I enjoyed sipping on a tea made from a local produce Seabuckthorn. The tea itself was called as a “Seabuckthorn Tea“. It’s orange in color and looks like a juice but it tastes good! Meeting local people and especially the super cute kids and babies was amazing! I met this super cute baby hanging on the back of her mother or grandmother (I’m not sure). He was so cute and he smiled at me every time I looked at him! We certainly had a connection, you can see that in the picture below! 😀
On our way back to the hotel we spotted a very interesting cafe “Sol Cafe“. Manish wanted to stop there and have some tea. The decor was very nice and pretty interesting! The entire cafe was decorated using the memories of the travelers. Be it notes or pictures pinned on the board! It looked like an art class! 😀 The menu was written on a blackboard with colored chalks and it looked super cute! This cafe was run by volunteers who come for 15 days every year during the season. Different volunteers keep coming every 15 days and run the cafe. The cook though is a local boy who made an awesome cup of tea! After enjoying that, we headed back to the hotel and called it a day.
With this, comes to an end to the Part – 5 of my Road to Trip to Spiti and I will be coming back with the last two parts very soon! I really hope you enjoyed the post and the pictures and found it helpful and informative. The video for this part is attached below and is also uploaded on my YouTube channel RougePouts. I really hope that you like the video as well! Please do not forget to like, subscribe and share it! Have a blessed day!! B-Bye!!