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Dhankar Gompa

Top choice in Spiti

Like a series of whitewashed limpets, the 1200-year-old Dhankar Gompa clings precariously to an eroded cliff-edge rock pinnacle, high above the beautiful Spiti Valley. The result is one of Himachal's most spectacular sights, especially seen from a distance. Climbing within the main building, stairs emerge beneath a stuffed goat as you reach the top-floor courtyard, off which lie a meditation cave, a room containing ceremonial masks, and the colourful quarters in which the Dalai Lama sleeps when visiting.

Accessed by a separate set of concrete steps, another prayer hall stands higher up the crag towards the fort. It has murals of the Buddha of healing, but far more memorable are the phenomenal views encompassing the twin peaks of Manirang (6593m) on the horizon.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Spiti attractions

1. Dhankar Fort-Palace

0.02 MILES

On the very crown of the gompa crag stands the crumbling fort-cum-palace that gave Dhankar its name (khar means 'citadel' and dhak means 'cliff'). Now…

2. New Monastery

0.24 MILES

The lamas who remain at Dhankar no longer inhabit the old gompa, having moved in 2009 to the red-and-gold New Monastery, 800m away around the hillside.

3. Dhankar Tso

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Offering beautiful reflections of the mountainscape plus chorten, this small lake sits high above Dhankar, accessed on foot by a steep 2km path that…

4. Lhalung Monastery

4.04 MILES

Near the top of Lhalung village, this outwardly modest monastery is actually an antique gem. Beneath a yellow painted tin roof, the very atmospheric…

5. Ugyen Sangnak Choling Gompa

8.64 MILES

At Kungri, this very large, custard-yellow monastery is predominantly new but has three much more interesting medieval shrines, featuring blackened murals…

6. Tabo Gompa

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Founded in AD 996, and retaining five sub-temples dating back over 900 years, Tabo Gompa is reckoned to be the oldest continuously functioning Buddhist…

7. Caves

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A number of small caves, whose openings are easily visible on the hillside just above the main road, were once part of the old monastery complex. Access…

8. Monastery Museum

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A new but very much traditionally styled extension to the old gompa's Zal-ma is nearing completion and will eventually house a museum of the monastery's…