Tabo Monastery, Spiti Valley : The Oldest Buddhist Monastery in India

Tabo Monastery, Spiti Valley : The Oldest Buddhist Monastery in India

On the banks of Spiti river lies the ancient village of Tabo. Well connected by roadways, with the nearby main town of Kaza and Reckong Peo it is situated beautifully at an altitude of 3280m in the Lahaul valley, with river Spiti running next to it. Tabo is believed to be atleast thousands of years old is known for its majestic Monastery popularly known as the Chogskhor Monastery or Tabo Monastery. The monastery, affiliated to the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism is the oldest monastery in Indian Subcontinent  and so is considered the most sacred monastery with great significance by His holiness Dalai Lama. This very reason gives this sleepy village a more distinct and an important identity in whole of the country.

 

View of the Tabo Village  from an adjacent hill top

 

The monastery’s complex has nine temples built between the late 10th and the 17th century . It is also famous for its exquisite murals and stucco sculptures for which it is often referred to as the Ajanta of the Himalayas. Some of these murals depicts stories of the life of Shakyamuni (the Buddha) and various Bodhisattvas. Apart these there are more than 33 stucco sculptures of Bodhisattvas on the walls. You can go around the main hall and would definitely get awed by the exquisite style of mural paintings. Some of these murals pre-dates back to the time when the monastery was originally first built. The monastery complex has a total of 9 temples and stupas of which all are made up in mud. Even though it’s walls were built up of mud but these structures have been standing strong for more than 1000 years. The best hours for visiting the monastery is during the early morning  hours when the lamas praying meditates in the old building halls. There is calmness in the air whose vibe you can feel inside you. Do look for souvenirs inside the Tabo monastery complex. It’s worth it.
Inside the Tabo monastery complex
Mud Building of the Tabo monastery
Old Mud Building of the Tabo monastery
Main Building of the Tabo monastery
Tabo can be made as a day stop over while on your onward journey to Kaza if you have entered via Kinnaur and have crossed the Nako village. While during the Day visit the monastery and during late evening do visit the natural caves on the mountain top right in the opposite side of the main doors of the Monastery. However you will need to do a small climb of few steps to reach there. From there you can get a panoramic view of whole of the Tabo village and the view of the Milkyway is fantabulous up there.
New prayer complex coming up inside the Tabo Monastery Complex

How To Reach Tabo Monastery

If you have your own private vehicle you can reach anytime of the day. And if you are on budget travel you can catch the  20.30pm bus to Tabo from ISBT Chandigarh via Reckong Peo. You will reach the Tabo Bus stand by 6pm the next day. Full list of Bus Timings to reach Tabo, Spiti Valley. Click Here .

Where to Stay in Tabo

 

There are many options of both luxurious hotels and budget homestays which will suit all type of budget. We stayed in Phuntsok Homestay where each twin occupency rooms costed us Rs 800 for a day. Other good option is the  Namsay Homestay Tabo. It has also good rating for comfortable staying and some fooding options. You may find few more good hotel and home stay options there.

Best Time to visit Tabo Monastery

 

Best time to visit Tabo are the months from June till August, when the high mountain passes are open and there are a considerable flow of tourists in these roads.

What to do in Tabo

– Visit Tabo Monastery
– Visit the natural Caves nearby.
– Do Star Gazing.
– Enjoy the hospitality of the locals with good food.

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