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See As we Saw - Spiti Valley II - Part VI

Memories captured in our lens as we sojourned on a 14-day-long Jeep Safari meandering through the sacred Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh

sunny 10 °C

Part VI of this this photo essay covers our drive towards the Dhangkar Monastery after exploring through the scenic landscape pf Pin Valley that I've described in the Part IV of this photo essay.

Dhankar (also Drangkhar or Dhangkar Gompa; Brang-mkhar or Grang-mkhar) is a Gompa, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahul and Spiti of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Situated approximately at an elevation of 3,894 metres (12,774 feet) in the Spiti Valley, Dhangkar Gompa lies between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers. Undoubetedly, it is perhaps one of the world's most spectacular settings for any gompa. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence the meaning of Dhangkar is a fort on a cliff.

The entire Spiti River Valley is in the rain shadow of the Himalayas in Northern India, very close to the border with Tibet. Irrigated by snow melt that is channeled only a few crops can be grown between the heavy winter snows.

Welcome Gate
As we dove past the winding roads of this cold barren landscape, we came across this arch welcoming us to the Dhangkar Gompa...

Away & Beyond
Considering the isolated location, the approach road to Dhangkar was very smooth. We branched off for Dhankar from the main Kaza-Samdu road at a point which was around around 24 km from Kaza.

Blue Sky, Barren Mountains

Snaking Through
As we gained height at each hairpin, the Spiti river snaking through the valley provided a bird's eye view...

Words fail to describe the raw & mystic beauty of this place...

Beyong the barren mountains and the valley below are seen a range of the snow-capped Himalayas of Tibet...

Countlless times we halted the vehicle and silently soaked ourselves in this heavenly setting...

Sight to Behold
The first glimpses of the Dhangkar Gompa from a distance. Dhangkar was the traditional capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century and has some features dating back to the 12th century. It was the seat of the early rulers of Spiti, the Nonos, who had the right to cultivate the government lands nearby and were the custodian to carry out repairs of the fort .

Prayer Flags
Colourful prayer flags fluttering across as we approached the Dhangkar Gompa...

Cliff Hanger
The Dhangkar Monastery as if hanging in the barren cliff as we trekked up the dusty path...

So Near Yet Quite Far
We just stopped on the way and soaked ourselves in this "out of the world" landscape...

Picture Postcard
Mitali just posed behind this postcard perfect sight...

Another View

I'm Ready, Are You?
Captured a picture of this cute child near the Dhangkar Monastery...


Close up of the clay mounds besides the dirt trek that we followed towards the gompa...

Out of the World



Pointing to Heaven

The serene settings at which stood the Dhangkar Monastery...

At the Doorstep
Finally, reaching the doors of the monastery...

Save Dhangkar
A banner mentioning an important message to Save Dhangkar displayed inside the monastery...

Stood for this memorable snap with the the head lama, Prema lama, who gave us a vivid description of the importance of this bye-gone era monastery and also gave me some tips on meditation...

Holy Man, Holy Blessing
Lama Prema also stood with Mitali for a snap inside the inner courtyard of the Dhangkar Monastery...

Skillful Merger
An exterior wall of the Dhangkar clearly show how it is as if emerging from the clay mounds, and how skillfully it was constructed so many centuries ago...

View from the Top
Mitali atop the roof of the Dhangkar Monastery, the views are mesmerizing and simly out of the world...

Colourful prayerflags flutters in the strong wind that we experienced at the clay-topped roof...

Scenic Confluence
The scenic confluence of the Spiti and Pin river coming from two different direction can clearly be seen from the roof of the Dhangkar Monastery...

I just sat at the roof top of the monastery and could not stop contemplating, is this real...

Prayer Lamps

Door to the Shrine
The colourful main door that leads one inside to the holy shrine...

Inner Courtyard

Cutie Pie
A cute baby at its innocent best as we moved outside the Dhangkar Monastery...

After our "out of the world" visit to the Dhangkar monastery, we made our way towards Tabo, our destination next...

To be Continued...

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Posted by sabyasachi 03:25 Archived in India Tagged spiti_valley himachal_pradesh lahaul_spiti buddhist_monasteries tibet_monastery dhangkar_monastery dhangkar_gompa

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Bhaity and Mitali ..thanks for sharing with us this beautiful journey ...

by ajita bhuyan

Thanks Babli for reading it...rgds, Bhaity

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by sabyasachi

its really wonderful!!..i really need ur help.
i am too planning a tour to himachal..from 17th to 30th july mostly.
can u plz tell me the duration of ur visit?
and the weather condition to expect there in late july?
and from where u hired car? at what coast?
ur reply will realy be helpful for my coming tour
thanks in adavance :)

by shaunak

hey Shaunak, thanks for your feedback. Well it depends which area in Himachal Pradesh you want to explore. Ideally 14 days is quite enough for you to explore the entire Lahaul & Spiti valley, and the Kinnaur valley which personally for me would be the most ideal to visit. By July, the Kunzum Pass as well as the Rohtang Pass would be open and you would be able to complete an entire circle.

But as per my recent interaction with some friends in Himachal, it is still snowing in Rohtang pass and Kunzum pass so the prefered tourist route is to start from Shimla and covering Kinnaur & Spiti Valley only- the route - Shimla-Sarahan-Sangla-Chitkul-Sangla-Kalpa-Tabo-Kaza and again back in the same route in 10-11 days.

Ours was a 14 days sojourn. We started from Mumbai to reach Chandigarh in the Pachim Express. We were lucky to be able to complete the entire circle:
Day1: Chandigarh-Sundernagar
Day 2: Sundernagar-Keylong (we covered till Keylong, it was a long backbreaking drive of 12 hours, it can be avoid it by breaking it in Kothi or Koksar)
Day 3: Kothi-Keylong
Day 4- Keylong-Trilokinath-Udaipur
Day 5: Udaipur Chatru
Day 6: Chatru-Losar
Day7: Losar-Ki-Kibber-Kaza (enroute visit Ki Monastery and Kibber village)
Day8: Kaza-Pin Valley-Khungri monsatery-Tabo
Day9: Tabo-Nako Lake-Pooh/Kalpa
Day9: Kalpa...rest day (see Kinner Kailash standing in front of you)
Day 10: Kalpa-Sangla (try to visit Kamru Fort, a trek of 2 kms uphill)
Day 11: Sangla-Chitkul-Sangla (very scenic Baspa Valley)
Day 11: Sangla-Sarahan (visit Bhima Kali temple)
Day 12: Sarahan-Shimla
Day 13: Shimla- Kalka (catch night train to Mumbai or in case you are flying take Volvo to Delhi and fly to Mumbai )
Day 14: Delhi-Mumbai

As the Spiti valley fall in the rain shadow area there will likely be any rain in July. For the vehicle, I have an experienced &dependable Driver-cum-Guide-cum-Friend and with him I've explored Himachal many times in his Tata Sumo. His name is Surender Singh Thakur, I call him Thakur Bhai.
Accomodation & food is not very expensive...

Hope this information helps...,

Warm regards,

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by sabyasachi

Outstanding pictures bhaity! Thanks for sharing!

by pinky

Hey Pinks thanks...

Warm Rgds,

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by sabyasachi

thanks a loot for the reply!!....the number will be the most important help , as this will be the first time for me to explore Himalayas..thanks again :)

by shaunak

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