Often referred as Ajanta of the Himalayas, Tabo Monastery is situated at the height of 10,007 feet in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh in north India. It is one of the oldest Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the Trans-Himalayas region. Held in high regard by Tibetan Buddhists, Tabo is second in importance to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet. Spread over an area of 6300 sq mtr, the monastery comprises of nine temples and gompas.
The monastery is known for its murals and stucco sculptures carved on the wall just like Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra. The monasteries were founded in 996 AD by the great Tibetan Buddhist translator Rinchen Zangpo. An inscription to this effect can be found on the monastery wall. The monastery has several thangkhas, murals and statues. Paintings basically depict the culture and history of Himalayan Region. From the murals, one learns that the place was meeting point of two cultures, Tibetan and Indian cultures. The painting and sculptures date back to the time when the monastery was constructed. However time to time, the art pieces were updated and added upon.
In the year 2000, in the presence of Dalai Lama, Kalchakara was celebrated where huge number of Buddhist monks and devotees from across the world. Above the monastery, there are caves and cliff like structures which are used by the monks for meditation. The Tabo Monastery complex has 23 chortens. The nine temples within the complex have different names on the basis of their use. Because of its archaeological and historical importance, the monastery is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Another thing which sets Tabo apart from other monasteries is the fact that it allows visitors to stay within its walls and get a firsthand experience of the life in the monastery. Accommodation options are limited. Budget hotels are available. Dormitories are available in the Monastery and the rates are quite low. If you are looking for luxury accomodation, head to Kaza.
The monastery has one restaurant where visitors can have veg and non-veg foods. For non-veg you have to order in advance. In addition there are number of restaurant in Tabo village. Best time to visit Kaza is during summer from May to October. From October end, Rohtang Pass remains closed due to snow fall. For visiting the following location one has to come down to Kaza as it is the main connecting place. The reference point is Kaza for places to see near Tabo.