About 46 Kms from Kaza, Tabo is an ancient village located beside spiti river on its left bank. Located at an altitude of 3050km, this small town falls under the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Tabo is famous for its monastery known as the Chogshkhor (doctrinal circle ) . The place is distinctive for being the largest monastic complex under Spiti. Tabo also houses some exquisite frescoes and stucco sculptures bearing a striking likeliness with the murals and sculpture of the Ajanta caves. It is for this reason that Tabo is also named as the ‘Himalayan Ajanta‘. These beautiful paintings are the creations of the Kashmiri painters depicting the scenes of the Jataka stories. Tabo is declared a heritage site by the UNESCO.
Places to see in Tabo: Renowned for the Tabo monastery there are a number of sight seeing spots in Tabo. These include:
The Monastery was established by great scholar Richen Zangpo in 996 AD. This is the most popular attraction in Tabo. Tourists from all parts of India and abroad come make a visit in this sacred spot. The site is highly revered pilgrimage for the Buddhists. Actually the religious centre was founded with the intention of starting an institute of advanced learning. In 11th and 20th centuries the site witnessed a remarkable success in the Tibetan art. This Monastery is among the oldest and working monasteries of the Himalayan Ranges. The monastery’s wall is decorated with beautiful paintings, murals, ancient texts and also some valuable inscriptions.
The Bodhisattva Maitreya Temple
This temple is also named as the Byams-Pa Chen-po Lha-khang. The whole complex is divided into a hall, vestibule and sanctum. The shrine consists of the image of the Bodhisattva Maitreya which has a height of more than six meters high. The countless murals within the temple, showcase the monastery of Tashi-Chunpo and Lhasa’s Potala palace.
The Golden Temple (GSer -Khang)
It is believed that this temple is made using pure gold. The shrine was renovated by Senge Namgyal, ruler of Ladakh in 16th century. The walls and ceiling of the temple are covered with some exquisite murals.
The Temple of Dromton (Brom-ston Lha-khang)
The temple is located on the northern edge of the complex and was founded by Dromton (1008-1064 AD), a devoted disciple of Atisha. The construction has intricately carved doorways with the inner walls covered by murals.
The Mystic Mandala Temple or Initiation Temple (dKyil-hKhor-khang)
The Mystic Mandala Temple also known as the Initiation Temple or the dKyil-hKhor-khang temple is decorated with a massive painting of Vairocana, the spiritual son of Adibuddha surrounded by the eight Bodhisattvas. This place is marked for the initiation of the monk hood.
The Mahakala Vajra-bhairava Temple (Gon-Khang)
The temple houses numerous protective deities of the Geluk-pa sect. Fierce deities crowd the room and the visitors are advised to enter the temple after protective meditation. This temple is also called ‘the temple of horror’ besides the name of Gon-Khang.
The Chamber of Picture Treasures
Also known as Z’al-ma, this art gallery is attached to ‘the temple of enlightened gods’ and embellished by the unique Tibetian style paintings.
The Temple of the Enlightened Gods or Tsug Lha-khang temple
The assembly hall, it forms the core of the complex. A four-fold figure of the Vairocana, one of the five spiritual sons of Adibuddha or the primordial Buddha, is placed at the centre. The length of the statue is 2 meters rotating the Dharma-chakra (the wheel of law). The walls are decorated with the life size stucco images known as the Vajradhatu Mandal. Five Bodhisattvas or enlightenment beings sitting within the sanctum is placed just behind the assembly hall. The artists are hired from Kashmir for making these beautiful temples.
Nearby attractions from Tabo: Lahaul Valley is a sub division of the Lahaul Spiti district. This is quite different from the Spiti. Lahaul is greener and well developed than Spiti. Located at an altitude of 2745m from the sea level, one can reach Lahaul after crossing the gateway Rohatang Pass. Lahaul is marked by a huge mass of uniformly high mountains and huge glaciers at the centre. The two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga rising on the either side of the Baralacha La, flow through the narrow Chandra and Bhaga valleys. This is land of fascinating Buddhist art and culture.
Things to do at Tabo: Declared a heritage site, explore the marvellous natural sculptures created by the eroding stones. Do visit the magnificent Tabo monastery, which is the main attraction of Tabo. The other temples located in side the complex is also worth a visit.
Best time to visit Tabo: The best time to visit Tabo Monastery and Spiti is from May to October.
How to go ?
Flights are the most easy way to travel to the town of Tabo. The nearest airport is Kullu. The airport at Kullu lies at a distance 294 kilometres from Tabo, and travelling from the airport to Tabo will take around nine hours. Taxis will be available from Kullu Airport to Tabo.
Trains can be taken to the nearest railway station at Kalka, which is located at a distance of 452 kilometres away from Tabo. From here you can hire taxis to reach Tabo.
It is a 115 km journey from Manali which takes six hours. Another option is to take bus from Shimla via Kinnaur to Kaza. The route from Shimla to Kaza remains open from May to October and is about 412 km long. Buses and taxis are available from Kaza to reach Tabo.
Where to stay ?
You will find a number of hotels and nice homestays at Tabo. Some options are:
Tow Dhey Himalaya Hotel & Restaurant Tabo: +91-94182-71129, 94185-37574 Website: www.hoteltabo.com
Millenium Monastery: +91-01906-223315
Dewachen Retreat: +91–01906- 223318, 9459566689 Website: www.dewachenretreats.com
Note : Phone numbers given above are according to the information available with us. If you find any contact number/s given above is/are incorrect or not in use, please let us know.