Exploration chapter at Dhankar!

10th Aug 2018

Spiti is not just a valley, it’s a FEELING! ❤️

A feeling of EXPLORATION!

An honest confession – Didn’t shoot the video while entering the palace first time, nor intended to post it online, else you wouldn’t hear me laughing. Wondering why, read the exploration story below!

Photo of Exploration chapter at Dhankar! 1/4 by the.twirling.traveller
Dhankar - village on the cliff

As we started from Kaza on a rainy day to Dhankar on bikes, the views all around were mesmerizing but the way Dhankar welcomed us was perplexing. At the entry was a Tibetan style pillar structure and the new monastery from where I could see the entire village. It’s a village on a cliff with its dramatic house settings and the Dhankar Monastery somehow hanging in there atop a very steep and narrow cliff. No wonder, World Monuments Fund included it as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world in 2006. I was intrigued to see each and every part and went up to the Dhankar monastery. That’s when I overheard about the King’s palace and started walking towards it. On the way met two of my co-travelers and we kept hurdling our way through narrow and steep alleys. We talked to the locals and played with the kids and continued our search for the palace.

Photo of Exploration chapter at Dhankar! 2/4 by the.twirling.traveller

Finally we reached and it was at the other edge of the cliff, looked haunted. It was the original power center of Spiti, when Dhankar used to be its capital in the ancient times. As of now, it is an abandoned mud and brick structure with wooden staircases. Little did we know all this and tried opening the plywood door. We peeped through the door opening with a creaking sound and it was dark, dusty and ghostly! We immediately shut the door and started contemplating whether to go in.

After two failed attempts, I took a leap of faith and went inside with the phone’s torch light. Dawdling and barging into all the rooms that were even dingier, I made my way up to first floor through a series of stone steps at the end of long dark corridor. As I was walking the corridor, the eeriness of place started turning into a strange mysteriousness making me eager to keep going and see where it leads to. The stairs took me to middle of a long corridor at first floor, where on one side was a window with the posterior view of the village surrounded by barren mountains and the other side a wooden staircase with light breaking in from the top. I made my way to the staircase and while climbing could see clouds, then the mountains and finally the mesmerizing view of the village, monastery and the entire valley.

Later, two more from our group joined and the most experienced and fittest among us, Nitin, led the way to climb the top point of the fort. It wasn’t an easy job but totally worth it. It was even higher than the monastery and offered 360-degree views of the village and the valley. We also found horns of yaks at the top and the Dhankar exploration chapter became a memorable one!

Now about the video, went back again to make it (no surprises there) and was about to stumble down from first floor while shooting. Please excuse the continuous panting, courtesy the climb to top!!!

Photo of Exploration chapter at Dhankar! 3/4 by the.twirling.traveller
Photo of Exploration chapter at Dhankar! 4/4 by the.twirling.traveller
The gang at the top!