If you are big fan of ‘The Lord Of the Rings’ movies you may relate the grandeur of ‘Key Monastery’ to Minas Tirith, the heavily fortified capital kingdom of Gondor. Keeping aside the movie talks, Kye monastery is an 11th century Monastery at a height of about 13,500 ft. True to its fabled splendor its is no less than the Minas Tirith.
Key Monastery from a distance
Originally when built the monastery is believed to be on lower altitude. But due to the regular onslaught of the Mongol barbarians the original complex was repeatedly destroyed. The today’s seen structures are built build upon what had been on the previous structure’s foundation. Which will answer you why there were many erratic structural patchwork of old rooms, tight alleys along the hallways, and hidden courtyards as can be seen today. As seen from a distance on the approaching road the Kye Gompa looks more like a collection of irregular heap of low lying houses amids a maze of dark corridors on a huge volcanic shaped monolithic hill.
The roads to the Key Monastery
There is very less parking space available. And once inside the Kye Gompa, you will encounter a recently renovated fleets of tiled staircase leading to the entrance of the Gompa. Inside is a new prayer complex with its enormous beauty now houses 250 monks. Right beside this new prayer hall, amid the old wooden columns a small fleets of stone steps will lead you inside a heavily carved hallways of the old complex. The old complex has prayer chambers that exhibits old Thangkas and murals, few poorly lit meditation rooms and a library that has ancient manuscripts of sacred Tangyur texts.
New Prayer Hall of Key Monastery
Around the month of June and July, the Kye monastery celebrates the annual festival, in which the Chaam dancers are followed by a procession by lamas who reaches the ritual ground below the monastery to perform dance. A large butter sculpture of a demon is set on fire and the devotees lays themselves down on the route, so that the lamas can walk over them as a part of a ritual.
Key Monastery Prayer hall
Inner Prayer Halls in the Old building of the key Monastery
P.C : lehladakhindia.com
How To Reach Kye Monastery
The distance of Kye Monastery is just 15kms from the nearest town of Kaza. If you feel you can easily do a small hike to reach the Key monastery from the Kaza town. Since there are no shade and sun shines brighter in this part of the country, before you begin your Hike ,do carry ample water, a full hat and lots of sunscreen lotion . Otherwise hire a private vehicle that will cost Rs 800 from Kaza for a return trip.
Best Time to Visit Key Monastery
Best time for visiting Key Monastery is from Mid June to October, when the high Altitude Rohtang Pass opens and the overall day temperature and weather is pleasant.
Where to Stay in Kye Monastery
There are few home stay available in and around Kye Monastery, which charges as low as Rs 300-500 per night. The food is very basic ranging from maggie noodles, Thupkas to breads. Rather than lodging at Key, I would suggest my readers to go for a day trip to Kye Monastery from the Kaza town itself and then returning back to the Kaza town. Kaza town surely provides a lot many options for comfortable lodging and variety of fooding options.
What To Do in Kye Monastery
-Attend annual Key Monastery Festival (usually during last week of September)
-Attend evening prayer in the Monastery.
-Photography in and around the Monastery.
-interact with the residential monks if they agree.
-Visit the green peas farms around the Monastery.