Tabo Monastery

Tabo, a seemingly basic village of mud cottages, has some stunning attractions. It is located in a bowl-shaped flat valley, with the Tabo Monastery at the valley’s bottom, as opposed to other monasteries, which are typically set atop hills. There are galleries of wall paintings and stucco statues. “Ajanta of the Himalaya” is what travelers have nicknamed this monastery. The monastery has earned this name after the Maharashtrian location with tunnels full of art. 

Tabo, founded in 996 AD, is the greatest monastic complex in Spiti Valley. It is supposed to have been built on behalf of Yeshe-O, the monarch of Guge in the western Himalayas, by the Tibetan Buddhist Iotsawa (translator) Rinchen Zangpo. It has nine temples, 23 chortens, and monk and nun dorms. It contains many caves built into the cliff face where monks used to meditate. There are some modern structures nearby. There are also thangkas, or scroll paintings, and manuscripts here. 

In terms of religious holiness, Tabo is second only to Tibet’s Tholing Monastery among Himalayan Buddhists. Several Indian pundits have visited this religious institution to learn Tibetan language over the years. Following the earthquake in 1975, Tabo monastery had to be rebuilt. A new Assembly Hall or Du-kang was also constructed during the same time. The 14th Dalai Lama held Kalchakra rites, a process of initiation and regeneration, here in 1983 and 1996. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has designated it as a national historic treasure, and promotes heritage tourism here. 

How to Reach

There are no direct trains or flights from Tabo Monastery. To get to the Tabo Monastery, one must divide his journey into sections. The nearest major bus station that provides intercity buses is Reckong Peo. One must go 150 kilometers from Reckong Peo to Tabo. Because the frequency of the buses is fairly low, you must be punctual. The nearest railway station with intercity trains is Dehradun (DDN). Shimla Railway Station (JDNX) is also the nearest local train station, with a restricted service schedule. The nearest major airport is Chandigarh Airport (IXC). Bhuntar Airport (KUU) is another neighboring airport with limited local flight availability.


Best Time To Visit

If you want to visit this old monastery, avoid the months of January to April because the temperature will range from minus 2 degrees Celsius to minus 14 degrees Celsius and most of the paths will be closed due to severe snowfall. Even residents prefer not to leave their homes during this time of year, preferring to stay warm in their own homes.

The tourist season will begin in May and last until October. However, avoid the monsoon month of August since the places near the rain shadow desert of Spiti Valley experience unusually heavy downpours and the Himalayan roads become slippery and prone to landslides.

Nearby Places to Visit

The Chamber Of Picture Treasures 

The chamber is an adjoining entryway to the Temple of the Enlightened Gods. This ante-chamber contains some of the most beautiful murals of Buddha, his devotees, and deities, which are said to have protective power. This room’s artwork are all in the Tibetan style.

The Mystic Mandala 

This temple has a popular, exquisite picture of Vairocana on the wall opposite the door. Eight Bodhisattvas encircle the god. This is where a person is initiated into monkhood. 

Kinnaurto Tabo 

Kinnaurto Tabo is located in Spiti, a Himalayan desert. While the majority of the terrain is barren, there may be some agricultural land and meadows here and there. You can travel to Kinnaur to enjoy the rich flora. You can also explore the Pin Valley National Park, a wildlife refuge about 48 kilometers away.

The Mahakala Vajra Bhairava Temple 

This temple, also known as the Temple of Horrors, is home to several fearsome Gelukpa Sect guardian deities. 

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Frequently Askee Questions

Tabo Monastery dates back to over a thousand years. It is believed to be around 996 AD. It holds a significant place in Tibetan Buddhism and has witnessed centuries of cultural and spiritual evolution.

Tabo Monastery is often referred to as the “Ajanta of the Himalayas” due to its exquisite frescoes and murals that depict scenes from Buddhist mythology. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There is no fee required to visit the monastery. However, it is advisable to check the latest information on entry fees before planning your visit.

Yes, visitors are allowed to explore the interiors of Tabo Monastery. However, it is important to respect the religious and cultural sanctity of the place. Photography may be restricted. Check with the authorities on-site to make sure.

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