Tabo – Dhankar Lake – Pin Valley are the hot favorite places in Spiti Valley. Hence, continuing on my efforts in completing the comprehensive travel guide of Spiti Valley, today I will cover them as third part of local sightseeing around Kaza in Spiti Valley. I have already written about Ki – Kibber – Gette – Tashigang and Langza – Komic – Hikkim.
You can explore these places while going to Kaza from Kinnaur side at an easy pace. As recommended, when you start from Kalpa, you should stay overnight at Tabo as your first stoppage in Spiti Valley. Then, next day you can explore Tabo locally, move to Dhangkar monastery and trek to Dhangkar Lake. After doing Dhangkar Lake trek and having lunch, you can traverse the 20 KM road into Pin Valley to Mud village. Finally, you can travel to Kaza from Pin Valley the next day, may be covering Lingti Valley – Rama village and Lhalung village. So, you must know that there is so so so much to cover in Spiti Valley. And the best part is, all these places are about a day’s drive from each other. However, for the brevity of this article I will keep myself focused on Tabo – Dhangkar – Dgankar Lake – Pin Valley and cover others in rest of the articles of this amazing series on comprehensive travel guide of Spiti Valley 🙂 …
Tabo is 47 KMs from Kaza and houses an ancient monastery, which, according to legend, is said to be over a thousand years old. The HH Dalai Lama has expressed his desire to retire to Tabo, since he mentions that the Tabo Monastery is one of the holiest. Tabo Monastery had to come under World Heritage Site but I am not sure if that survey was successful or not. You can also hike to the caves up on the hills in Tabo where monks use to meditate. You can lear more about Tabo monastery at the wiki link here
Tabo is the second most important village in the Spiti Valley after Kaza. It is the perfect place for people coming from Kinnaur Valley for an overnight stop because it is low in altitude (about 3280 Mtrs) and helps in acclimatization very much. Tabo also has numerous stay options now and some of them you can check under:Good Hotels or Accommodation options in Spiti Valley & Kinnaur Valley. This also makes Tabo as one of the hot favorite spots for tourists. I always recommend spending a day in Tabo whenever you make a trip to Spiti Valley.
Dhankar Monastery & Dhankar Lake
Dhankar monastery is situated at the high altitude of 3894 Mtrs. Dhankar is about 32 KMs from Kaza (31 KMs from Tabo) including 8 Kms of diversion road from Shichilling. It is located at a 1000 feet hilltop much like a fort overlooking the confluence of Spiti and Pin Rivers in Spiti Valley. By the native language Dhang means a cliff and kar or khar means a fort. Hence, Dhankar translates to fort on a cliff ;)… Well, it is getting ruined by the age of the cliff on which it is located and it is believed to have not much of a remaining lifespan. Various initiatives are going on towards saving this monument at present and you can get in touch with Tsering at Sakya Abode, if you wish to contribute. You can read more about Dhankar at the Wiki link here. The highest vantage point from where the Spiti – Pin River confluence is closely visible was a point to remember. The wind was very strong and that little space with a low fencing gave jitters in my body with a feeling of flying down with the wind.
Dhankar lake is about 1.5 Hrs high altitude trek from Dhankar monastery. The initial ascend of about 30-40 minutes is pretty steep for someone less fit like me. Then, the path is uniform till the time you reach the lake. The beauty of the lake is not the lake itself but the extreme feeling of solitude it offers. The words fall short to describe the feeling of being besides Dhangkar Lake and sitting besides that magical setting of the Dhangkar lake in complete silence with massive view of mighty Manerang Pass range in the backdrop. The lake sometimes doe not have much water due to less glacial melt but you will not be disappointed with the views. Dhankar lake remains frozen if you make the trip in early May and try to hike to see its view. No guide is required to make this trek, path is well marked. However, still I will not suggest to trek to the lake alone. In all high altitude treks, it is extremely important to have a company with you. I suggest you to carry loads of water, dry fruits, eateries, etc.. and keep yourself energized and hydrated with glucose water.
Trekking down from the Dhankar lake was not that difficult on the body but again the last half being high gradient, at every step caution was required for an assured grip of the foot so that you do not fall or slip down on others on the trail 🙂 …
Pin valley is the base for Pin Valley National Park which got established in 1987. It is the home for a number of endangered animals including the Snow Leopard and Siberian Ibex. The views in the entire Pin Valley including Mud village are just majestic and the entire valley is mostly virgin, serene, barren and beautiful. The elevation of the Pin Valley national park ranges from about 3500 Mtrs near Ka Dogri to more than 6000 Mtrs at its highest point. In summer, rare birds such as the Himalayan Snowcock, Chukar Partridge, Snow Partridge and Snowfinch can be seen in the park. You can read more about it at the Wiki link here
As you come down from Dhankar monastery and move towards Kaza, the Pin Valley diversion comes at Attargoo bridge. You take a left and traverse the 20 KMs diversion road through Pin Valley villages starting from Gulling to Sagnam to Tailing to Mud Village. There are few important monasteries in Pin Valley including the Kungri monastery which is around 10 km from Attargo and 3 km from Gulling. Sagnam village has a PWD rest house in case you are interested to stay in Pin Valley. Mud village is the last village connected by motorable road in Spiti Valley though the road continues towards Bhaba pass ahead of it. Over the years Mud village has become the base for tourist, travelers and backpackers. This is the very reason that you find many guest houses present at Mud Village and some under development for the coming years. The major reason being Mud village also acts as the base for trekking route towards or from Pin-Parvati Pass or Bhabha Valley.
In the end, I will surely recommend you visiting these tourist places of Spiti Valley. Once, you will witness these magical yet beautiful places by your naked eyes, I am sure you will feel your soul got lost in the Himalayas. It is true for each and every place in Spiti Valley.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any queries. If you have visited these magical places in Spiti Valley and wanted to share some insights on it, do leave some suggestions to help other fellow travellers as well. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends and family who are planning a visit to Spiti Valley in time to come 🙂 🙂 …