”Still round the corner, there may wait a new road or a secret gate.”
Dhankar Monastery, also referred to as Dankhar, Drangkhar or Dhangkar Gompa is situated in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, India. At an altitude of 12,774 feet, the monastery is perched unbelievably on the edge of a cliff and offers a panoramic view of Spiti valley. Built on a 1000 feet high mountain and overlooking the heart-stirring sight of the confluence of Spiti and Pin rivers, Dhankar Monastery is listed as one of the world’s 100 most endangered monuments.
This beautiful monastery is locked between the rocky spurs at the top of clif in the Dhankar village. It is a 16th century old fort monastery, which has also served as a prison in the erstwhile era. The Dhankar Gompa is over 1000 years old and is connected to the rest of the valley through a motorable road, which is good for small vehicle only. There is a new monastery in the small village of Shichilling below the old monastery. The old monastery is associated with the Great Translator, Rinchen Zanggpo, and its complex comprises a number of multi-storey buildings perched together.
Not just this, but the old monastery has five different halls, including Kanjur, Lhakhang, and Dukhang, and a huge life size silver image of Vajradhara, kept in a glass altar adorned with scarves and flowers. The Lhakhang Gompa is a must visit spot, which is situated on the uppermost peak above the main monastery. This place is beautified with depictions of Shakyamuni, Tsongkhapa, and Lama Chodrang on the central wall. There are around 150 lamas residing in Dhankar Gompa; Dhankar means ‘a place in the mountains that can be easily reached by visitors.
Being one of the main centres of Buddhist art and culture, the monastery has become a famous tourist destination. Besides enchanting views, the Dhankar Gompa has the statue of Dhayan Buddha and a small museum which stores scriptures and murals. A 2 km hike from the monastery leads to pristine Dhankar lake.
If you are visiting the fascinating Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh, don’t miss any chance to see this beautiful monastery in the midst of mountains and rocky spurs.
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