This iconic monastery is said to be situated in the form of a lotus flower. Its petals are being formed by eight mountains surrounding it from different sides. Amidst these lotus shaped mountains, lies this small village Dhankar and the mountain named Lagphal Tashi Choling Gompa. All other mountains are abode to some Local Buddhist Gods.
While travelling from Tabo to Kaza, there's a place named Sichling; it's an uphill route of around 10 km from there to Dhankar village. The gate at the base of the uphill itself shows the rich heritage that the village is holding. On crossing each turn towards the village, the view gets magnificent and it's nearly impossible to stop yourself at turns for capturing the view. It actually delays you more to reach monastery further.
This monastery was built by the first ruler of Spiti. A fort was also built adjacent to this monastery. While the religious affairs were conducted by the monastery itself, the king used to conduct all the governance and state related affairs at the fort.
The monastery holds a number of prayer rooms, old wall paintings and plethora of religious artifacts. The Monastery had been attacked by the bandits several times. The king had designed the village in such a way to have sentry post based on hillocks and restrict the entry points for the bandits.
On visiting the monastery, one can visit all the prayer rooms, the meditation cave where 14th Dalai Lama stayed for a day in 1970s. One can also see the ruins of the Dhankar fort from monastery.While a long detour is required to reach the fort on vehicle, the fort can be reached after walking for 10 minutes on the streets of the village. While walking up to the fort one can interact with the villagers and grab the amusing tales on and off about the spiti valley. The old ladies are so polite to talk but they do shy away from clicked. A hostel is located adjecent to the fort which was also invaded in the history, hundred years ago. Only a small chapel of the fort is present in ruins on the first floor without any stairs available. One requires to have ample climbing skills to reach the chapel on first floor. Its a boon if you have pahadi traits at that time. Else you will be required to hug the wooden logs and do few monkey stunts to go up and down.
The fort as on date has been eroded with the ashes of the walls trying to recite their tales. The Monastery is also shedding down day by day. No matter how much flimsy its structure is getting, it still holds a significant position in the history of Spiti. There is no dilution in the loyalty of their monks and preserving this golden piece of Spiti's history.
On reaching Dhankar village, the new monastery is first enroute. This monastery was required to be made due to degrading condition of the old monastery. Hence all the teaching and training of the monks are now shifted to new monastery while the old monastery has been kept for preservation.
We need to be a part of preserving this epic edifice to continue revealing the saga of this historical gem. One should contribute and donate when visiting this place and feel that gratification of being able to bestow in a good cause when in Spiti. Welcome abode Spiti Valley