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Introducing Tabo

About 47km east of Kaza, tiny Tabo is the only other town in the Spiti Valley. The setting, hemmed in by scree slopes, is wind-blown and dramatic, and the ridge north of town is riddled with caves once used as meditation cells by local hermits. It's a fine place to kick back for a couple of days.

The village is completely dominated by Tabo Gompa, a World Heritage Site whose dull mud-brick walls hide some of the finest Indo-Tibetan art in the world. Founded in AD 996, the gompa’s fantastically adorned chapels were painted by some of the best Buddhist muralists of the era, blending western Tibetan, Indian and Kashmiri styles. Bring a torch. Beyond the intricate mandalas and portraits of gods and demons, the moody chambers are graced with life-size stucco statues of bodhisattvas and detailed wood carvings. The modern gompa outside the ancient compound has a well-attended morning puja at 6.30am, and the monastery guesthouse contains a Buddhist library and a small religious museum.