In the last post, I shared my experience of Manali to Kaza via Batal and Kunzum La. In this post I will talk about Dhankar, Tabo and my experience of witnessing galaxy for the first time in Spiti.
Zostel in Kaza is place where you can acquaint with fellow travellers. Good thing is, it allows you to pitch your tent, charging INR 200 for each. We had 2 tents, hence paid INR 400. If you are looking for some peculiar experience, then pitch your tents on the outskirts of Kaza. Things to keep in mind ; Water, food & toilets!
Anyways, coming back to Zostel, we finished pitching our tents and the moment we looked up there was a sky full of stars right above us.
So many stars.. so many..
When sun lights up this place in morning, its a paradise!
And when stars sprinkle their light on this place, it turns into a wonderland!
Just in a few minutes clouds took away this sight and all we were staring into was darkness, hoping for a star to shine.
We finally went to have our dinner which is costly if you are budget conscious but tasty for sure. We kept looking out of the window for in case we spot a sight of galaxy, we’d run out and capture it.
After we were done with our dinner, we came out and waited for about 2 hours! There were other people who were waiting for the same and because so many humans prayed on to witness one thing, clouds couldn’t withstand against those prayers and moved away.
It was hard to realize that I actually am witnessing this!! Something I adored on Google and believed it’s all magic of Photoshop was actually right in front of my eyes. I captured this beauty in my eyes and in cameras quickly because we could see more clouds coming to block our view.
Till 1 or 2 am we played this game of hide and seek with our beloved stars, finally convincing ourselves to fall asleep to acclimatize our body.
At around 6am, I woke up abruptly, opened my tent and gazed at the mountains, sky, greenery and adorable puppies of the Himalayas running in a farmland.
A sigh of relief!
Next thing I saw was those puppies were running around me,wanting to play.
So an animal lover got indulge with those cute little monsters, fed them, played with them.. initially they were 3.. then there were 5.. then 8.. then more. But one of the zostel’s caretaker shooed them away. We had our breakfast, charged our electro gadgets up and headed to our next destination, Dhankar.
The majestic mountains of Dhankar
Off road we were driving, for you know there ain’t no ‘road’.
Our altitude elevated gradually and the view around us turned glorious with every turn.
Pardon me for this redundancy but again, the clouds, mountains with newer texture (some of them had caves too), the Spiti river and no human – it’s exactly what Spiti is about. As far as you travel, it’s all you see but it’s all new and different.
With songs like ‘Kabira’ and ‘Phir se ud chala’ in background and such view in front, I hope you can image what we were actually feeling. A 2 hr long drive for 35kms and we reached one of the most beautiful monasteries.
Here is a door that lets you enter into a pristine place and changes your perspective.
We walked through this door and climbed a little to see how far we’ve come. Humongous mountains standing tall in front of us, the path we travelled on was no longer in sight. Tiny huts and peaceful inhabitants, letting nature do all the talking. I have no clue how this beautiful place turns more beautiful every second. Green, brown, grey, blue.. you can witness every hue. And when all is said and done, you see Tibetan prayer flags.. they leave a sense of satisfaction in your heart, allowing you to make peace with all the battles you’ve been fighting with yourself.
With Buddhism surrounding my brain, we entered into the Dhankar Monastery.
Dhankar Monastery is about 1200 years old at 3,894 metres (12,774 feet) above sea level.
Because photography wasn’t allowed in Dhankar Monastery, I have no picture or video which may allow you to see the exquisite beauty it offers. But soon I’ll post a video in which you can see what view it offers.
After calming our brains here, we started climbing to Dhankar Palace.
Being honest, we didn’t visit any palace. We climbed onto a height which provides a splendid view and gives a feeling of being ‘on top of the world’.
We descended, climbed our way to another place where there was a Shiv Mandir. In this temple you’ll find these horns stuffed with something I have no clue about.
Then we came back to monastery and took some stairs which provided the same view with a different perspective.
I say, if you go there.. sit and listen to the silence.. how wind communicates with mountains.. how the river reflects her merry emotions by splashing water.
With all the self introspection done, we walked back and left Dhankar Village and headed to Tabo.
Roads to Tabo provide a little different view.
Those sandy mountains and blue sky remain same.. but the way clouds cast their shadow in tatters on mountains and make the view appealing makes this place worth visiting.
And it all looked much better because the Spiti River never left our sight.
Roving and grooving through rough roads which stretched for about 30kms, we finally after 3hr long journey, entered Tabo.
This small town with its loving people won’t let you down. They try to help in every possible way. And I can say this confidently because when we were looking for a place to pitch our tents for free, they showed us the way.
They led us to HELIPAD!
Goddamn! I never thought I would spend a night in a tent pitched at HELIPAD!
A few yards away from us was a field, after that a cremation ground and after that, the river! Told you it never left us. <3
We went to Tabo Monastery after having lunch. Entering into Tabo Monastery was like stepping into Egyptian era. Sun light entering in bits and aroma of the walls make the place look novel.
Over a thousand year old at 3,280 m (10,760 ft) this monastery was found in 996 CE. It makes you feel like you have travelled in time.
When you enter, you’ll see almost 10 sculptures on each side of the wall and a huge one on the front wall. The sculptures have their every feature carved out impeccably. Their nails, hands, eyes, fingers, lips..all are so precisely crafted and colored that they look real. It all looks majestic.
There was not a single space on wall lacking paintings. Their colors weren’t too bright as they were years and years old, but their craft was so vivacious that it made me feel exuberant. Icing on the cake was silence.
The place looked spooky but the ambience those fractals of light created was worth all applauds.
I can go on and on about Tabo Monastery because it left a great impression on my heart. Tasting splendor of this place was euphoric.
Photography isn’t allowed under the old Tabo monastery and I appreciate it. One must preserve the beauty of a place so remote, tranquil and blissful.
After visiting Tabo Monastery, we sat on the car roof till the blue sky turned dark and darker revealing to us its different shades. We roamed the streets a little and though we weren’t hungry, we had to find a place to eat with electricity so we could charge our cameras. Did that.
A clear sky with galaxy right above us! What else could I have asked for on my birthday eve?
To be Continued…………