Dhankar: A Fort on a Cliff

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Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh is full of unique wonders that leave outsiders awe-struck. You may have to give some a miss. However, do ensure that Dhankar Gompa is not one of them. This Gompa is located at an elevation of 3894m on a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin rivers. Listed as one of the ‘100 Most Endangered Sites in the World’ by the World Monument Fund, Dhankar Gompa, is a must visit place when you are in Spiti Valley.

At a distance of about 25 kilometres from Kaza towards Tabo, a link road leads to Dhankar Gompa. After travelling for eight kilometres on this metalled road, when you spot some houses scattered on sand dunes that appear as if they have been pasted on sand, it can be assumed that one has reached Dhankar Fort or the thousand-year-old Dhankar Gompa. The Gompa holds artefacts that are as old as one thousand years, even today. An outsider might feel that this mountain that resembles a big sand dune might fall apart any moment, but nothing like this has ever happened, and a thousand-year-old history is a witness to it.

Dhan means a ‘cliff’ and kar means a ‘fort’. It is fort built on a cliff, hence the name Dhankar. However, the fort of Dhankar is now an abandoned structure, but still is a place worthy of a visit. It is even higher than the monastery and offers bird’s-eye-view of the Dhankar village and the Pin and Spiti rivers.

The village that is spread on a mountain along with the fort right above it on the peak, looks exquisite. This Gompa is frequently visited by domestic and foreign tourists throughout the year. Followers of Buddhism from all over the world stay here for years together, meditating and chanting Buddhist hymns. While the beauty and sacred environment of Dhankar Fort and Gompa is enjoyed by all, the Dhankar Lake which is about one and a half kilometres up from there, is sure to make one gasp at the phenomenal beauty of Himachal!

Dhankar is a small village. So, you will not be able to find direct busses for Dhankar. You need to reach Tabo or Kaza first and from there, you can hire a cab or bus to Dhankar. The distance between Dhankar and Tabo is 32 km and between Dhankar and Kaza is 34 km.
Important Distances: Kaza – Shimla: 422 kms (via Kinnaur). Kaza – Manali: 202 kms (via Rohtang Pass).
Best Time to Visit: May-June and September-October.
Accommodation: There are limited number of homestays and guest houses here. One can also stay at Kaza or Tabo.

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