Reaching Kye: Daypack strapped in, I headed out into the morning sunshine. From the Kaza petrol pump I turned left, pausing for a quick breakfast of tea and noodles (Rupees 60) at a shack. I kept walking, taking in the clean, dry air and sunshine. The Spiti river snaked past to my left, a ribbon of pure azure. There were dust clouds in the distance, and the only constant sound was the wind. I took the road that forked off toward Kye and Kibber, and soon heard the sound of a large car behind me. The huge 4x4 with prayer flags and rally stickers screeched to a stop and out popped two friendly faces. These two gents were driving from Delhi till Ladakh but wanted to cover the high-altitude vilages in Spiti first. “Hop in, we’ll drop you till Kibber,” they smiled. Along the way, they offered rides to a couple of old ladies out carrying vegetables. Soon I was sitting alongside baskets filled with spinach and pumpkins, listening to the gentle sound of elderly laughter. At the first glimpse of the monastery at Kye I thanked the lads for the ride, and walked up to the village on foot. The 900-year old monastery against the backdrop of the inky blue October sky came into my field of view. It was breathtaking.Inside Kye: A young Lama welcomed me inside the ancient mud fort. The inner sanctum of Kye was closed, but I was let in to light an incense. The monastery complex has been built into the side of the mountain over centuries. Each of its cavernous rooms, hewn out of mud and stone through many years, are interconnected through narrow steps and soot-lined passageways. I saw ancient meditation chambers built long ago, and sat in contented silence. The only sounds were the blowing wind and chants in the distance, the heady smell of Tibetan incense swirling around me. It was magic.Lama ji invited me into the main kitchen of the monastery, a rare privilege. I sat in the stone-lined room, while the young monk poured me a mug full of warm herbal tea. I thanked him for the hospitality and promised to return someday. On my way out I saw something incredible. Two monks were singing a hymn while a third danced in a whirling motion. They were oblivious to the world, focused on the song and dance as if in a trance.I watched and felt a deep sense of gratitude at being allowed a glimpse into the life of these gentle monks and their thousand-year-old monastic abode. To experience this life was a privilege, one that is perhaps best preserved in the mind’s eye. Taking photos felt like an utterly touristy, intrusive thing to do. So I sat and watched in silence.