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Dhankar is a beautiful village in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh. Snuggled at altitude of 12,774 feet above sea-level (3,894 m), this village is inhabited by 44 people. Dhankar was the erstwhile capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century. It was the place of the early ruler of Spiti, the Nonos. There are also some features dating back to the 12th century. In the local dialect, Dhang means cliff, and kar means fort, hence, Dhankar translates to ‘fort on a cliff’.

The Dhankar Monastery is the prized sight of Dhankar. The monastery complex is built on a high mountain spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers. It is one of the world’s most spectacular scenery. The monastery was built approximately a millennium ago and now belongs to the Gelugspa School of order since the 1450s. Depending on the religious adherence of the King’s family, Dhankar Monastery has also followed orders of Nyingma-pa, Sakya-pa and Kagyu-pa. The major charm of the monastery is the serene statue of Vairochana (Dhayan Buddha), consisting of 4 figures seated back to back. The monastery also houses a collection of various centuries old thangkas.

The Dhankar Monastery is recognized by the World Monuments Fund as one of the Hundred Most Endangered Sites in the world. In recent years, due to the deterioration of the monastery, some sections have been abandoned and a new gompa has been built further down. The fort of Dhankar, ruined by an earthquake in 1975, is still a place worth visiting. From the remnants of the fort, the vast expanses of the Spiti valley open up as far as the eye can see.

At heights above the Dhankar village lies is a fresh water lake. The Dhankar Lake is sited about 1.5 km from the village at a height of 13,500 ft. The fresh cerulean waters act as the source of water supply for the village. Camping is not allowed next to the lake, to keep the water supply pure.

Dhankar is place worth your time. It is remarkable and one of Spiti Valley’s cherished locales.

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