Tabo Monastery is located in the secluded village of Tabo in Lahaul and Spiti. This monastery, built in 996 AD, is among the functional Buddhist education centers in the Himalayan region. It has been an important site for Buddhist pilgrimage since the 10th century. Tabo Monastery plays an important role in preserving Indo-Tibetan Buddhist culture in the state. Often, the harsh climate in this region prevents tourist activity. The best time to visit Tabo Monastery is from April to October.
Tabo Monastery in Himachal Pradesh is known as the 'Ajanta of the Himalayas'. Founded by Richen Zangpo, this monastery consists of a complex of nine temples. It is also a storehouse of Buddhist history and culture, which includes paintings, religious texts and volumes of manuscripts. The priceless collection of statues is of great interest to tourists. You will find ancient murals covering the monastery walls that are a must-see.
This monastery has earned a name in the history of Indian Buddhism due to its religious work. The Kalachakra ceremonies (Initiation of monks into Kalachakra Tantra practise) took place here in 1983 and 1986. Over the years, many pundits studied Tibetan here. Eminent scholars and monks, such as Ngo Lotsawa Lodan, lived in the Tabo Monastery. Since centuries, this Buddhist center is an intermediary between Indian and Tibetan culture. Also, being a prominent educational center, the Serkong School of Tabo Monastery teaches Bhoti, English, Sanskrit and Hindi.
The region surrounding the monastery is also appealing to tourists despite its barrenness. There are apple orchards around the compound wall.
Tabo Monastery's Architecture
After this monastery was damaged during the earthquake of 1975, construction work was done. The assembly hall was built and caves were carved to serve as places for prayer and meditation. The Tabo Monastery has nine temples, a residence for the monks, another quarter for the nuns and 23 chortens (stupas). Most of these structures date back to the 10th and 11th century.
The nine temples of Tabo Monastery complex include:
- The Temple of the Enlightened Gods (Tug-Lha-khang)
- The Bodhisattva Maitreya Temple (Byams-Pa Chen-po Lha-Khang)
- The Golden Temple (Ser-khang)
- Mystic Mandala Temple (dKyil-kHor- khang)
- Temple of Dromton (Brom-ston Lha khang)
- Chamber of Picture Treasures (Z'al-ma)
- White Temple (Kar-abyum Lha-Khang)
- The Large Temple of Dromton (Brom-ston Lha khang)
- The Mahakala Vajra Bhairava Temple (Gon-khang)