Tabo, Dhankar Lake, and the Pin Valley are the hot favorite tourist places in Spiti Valley. No trip to Spiti can be considered complete without visiting these places, and in case you have missed any of them, you have a reason to plan a new trip to this middle land soon.
Hence, continuing on my efforts in completing the comprehensive travel guide of Spiti Valley, today I will cover these places as the third part of local sightseeing around Kaza in Spiti Valley.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Local Sightseeing in Spiti Valley
You can explore these places while traveling to Kaza from Kinnaur side at an easy pace. As recommended already in the most common itinerary, 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 – Stroll in the village, visit Tabo monastery and hike to meditation caves. Then move to the 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, maybe 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 – Dhankar Lake – Pin Valley and cover others in the 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 the 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 used to meditate. You can learn more about Tabo monastery at the wiki as well.
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) than Kaza 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 is situated at an 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. It can easily be visited when traveling from Kinnaur Valley to Spiti.
By the native language, Dhang means a cliff and Kar or Khar means a fort. Hence, Dhankar translates to a fort on a cliff.
Well, Dhankar monastery is getting ruined by the age of the cliff on which it lies. The cliff does not have 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.
On my visit, the highest vantage point from where the Spiti – Pin River confluence is closely visible was a point to remember. The wind was powerful, and that little space with 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 the Dhankar monastery. The initial ascent 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 of describing the feeling of being beside Dhangkar Lake and sitting beside that magical setting of the Dhangkar lake in complete silence with a large view of the mighty Manirang Pass range in the backdrop.
The lake sometimes does 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, and the path is well marked.
However, still, I will not suggest to trek to the lake alone. In all high altitude treks, it is crucial to have a company with you. I suggest you carry a water bottle, dry fruits, eateries, etc.. and keep yourself energized and hydrated with glucose water.
Do not forget to read these special tips on first time trekking in the Himalayas.
Trekking down from the Dhankar lake is not that difficult on the body, but again the last half is a 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 – Mudh Village
Pin valley is the base for Pin Valley National Park, which got established in 1987. It is the home for several 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 as well.
As you come down from Dhankar monastery and move towards Kaza, the Pin Valley diversion comes at the 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 in staying in the Pin Valley.
Mudh village is the last village connected by motorable road in Spiti Valley though the road continues towards Bhabha pass ahead of it. Over the years, Mud village has become the base for tourists, travelers, and backpackers. It 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 Mudh village also acts as the base for the trekking route towards or from Pin-Parvati Pass or Bhabha Valley.
In the end, I will surely recommend you visit these tourist places in 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 every place in Spiti Valley.
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Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions. 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 travelers as well.
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