Dhankar Gompa

Top choice buddhist monastery

in Dhankar
© Frank Bienewald / Getty Images
© Frank Bienewald / Getty Images

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.