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Key Monastery, Spiti

Built in - 11th century

Built by - Drompton, a famous disciple of teacher Atisha

Highlights - Biggest center of Buddhist learning in the Spiti and oldest training center for Lamas

The oldest training center for Lamas and the biggest center of Buddhist learning in the Spiti Valley, Key Monastery is more than 1000 years old. It is placed at an altitude of 13,668 feet above the mean sea level.

Home to around 350 lamas at one time, this Gompa was founded in the 11th century by a popular disciple of teacher Atisha, Drompton. Over the time, the number of lamas staying in the monastery has come down. This monastery is one the three monasteries that belong to the Gelugpa sect also called the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism, along with Drangtse and Tabo Monasteries.

One of the most prominent features of this monastery is its Pasada style of architecture, which can be noticed through its 2 or more stories, looking like a fort-monastery. Spread in three floors, the monastery’s underground space is for storage. On the ground floor, there are a number of rooms of monks and there is also an assembly hall, Du-Khang.

Popular for housing rare thangkas, vintage murals and old weapons, the Gompa has rooms with special paintings called Tangyur, which must be seen. Visitors can also see a fine collection of musical instruments such as drums, cymbals, and trumpets.

Fire had destroyed Key monastery in 1840 and earthquake in 1975. The monastery has also been destroyed by invaders and has been re-constructed a number of times and due to same reason, the pattern of temples and the other buildings look slightly disorganized.

One of the most popular monasteries in Spiti, it was the site of Kalachakra ceremony in the year 2000, which was also attended by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, and 1500 other lamas.

Key monastery boasts of wonderful surrounded, enveloped by glaciers and snow-capped mountains. The scenery is awe-inspiring. This monastery has also been the location of some of the scenes of Bollywood movie Paap, starring John Abraham and Udita Goswami in lead.

Best time to visit the Key Monastery is from May to October as later on, Rohtang Pass remains closed in winters due to snow fall.