Tabo Monastery is situated at Tago village of Spiti village. It lies between 32°4′48″N 78°22′48″E. Tabo Monastery is also called Ajanta of The Himalayas. The location of the Tabo Monastery is very beautiful. Above the monastery there are a number of caves carved into the cliff face and used by monks for meditation.
This Monastery stands at a remote infertile ground. This Monastery is occupying 6300 sq km. The Tabo Monastery is surrounded by mud bricks. The temple within the Tabo Monastery complex have multiplicity of wall paintings. The Archaeological Survey of India to restore painting that were damged by time. The photography is not permitted inside the Tabo Monastery.
The monastery was built by the Buddhist king (also known as Royal Lama) Yeshe O’d in 996 A.D. It was renovated 46 years later by the royal priest Jangchub O’d, the grandnephew of Yeshe O’d. They were kings of the Purang-Guge kingdom whose ancestry is traced to the ancient Tibetan monarchy, and extended their kingdom from Ladakh to Mustang by building a large network of trade routes, and built temples along the route. Tabo was built as a ‘daughter’ monastery of the Tholing Monastery in Ngari, western Tibet.
Inside the Tabo Monastery
The monastery complex has 9 temples, 23 chortens. The nine temples is the following
The Temple of the Enlightened Gods (gTug-Lha-khang)
This is also known as the assembly hall (du-khang) and is quite the core of the complex. The central figure of this hall is the four-fold figure of Vairocana. In Vajrayana Buddhism, he is regarded as one of the five spiritual sons of Adibuddha- who was the self-created primordial Buddha.
The Golden Temple (gSer -Khang)
Once believed to have been layered with gold, this shrine was exhaustively renovated in the 16th century by Senge Namgyal, ruler of Ladakh. The walls and ceiling are covered with murals.
The Mystic Mandala Temple or Initiation Temple (dKyil-hKhor-khang)
The wall facing the door is embellished by a massive painting of Vairocana. which is surrounded by the eight Bodhisattvas. Mystic mandalas cover the other areas.
The Bodhisattva Maitreya Temple (Byams-Pa Chen-po Lha-khang)
A 6m tall image of the Bodhisattva is the prime attraction. The temple is seprated into a hall and sanctum. The wall painting increase the beauty of this temple.
The Temple of Dromton (Brom-ston Lha khang)
This temple is laying on the northern tip of the complex. The temmple is built by an ardent disciple of Atisha. To reach the temple we need to pass through a verandah. On the door we can see excellent carving. The interiors are graceful with beautiful wall paintings.
The Chamber of Picture Treasures (Z’al-ma)
This former room attached to the Enlightened Temple. The disciples and protective deities in the pure Tibetan style.
The Large Temple of Dromton (Brom-ston Lha khang)
This temple occupying a floor area of 70 sq km. This temple is second largest temple of monastery. The additional area of 42 sq km is covered by the verandah and the niche. On the front wall, a figure of Sakymuni with Sariputra and Maha Maugdalayana on his side can be seen.
The Mahakala Vajra Bhairava Temple (Gon-khang)
The fierce protective deities of Gelukpa sect are numerous in the room. This is the reason why this temple is also known as the ‘temple of horror’.
The White Temple (dKar-abyum Lha-Khang)
The walls of this temple too are decorated. There is a low dado for the monks or nuns to lean against.
How to access
By Air: The nearest airport is Jubbarhatti which is situated in Shimla.
By Train: The nearest railhead is Kalka which is 455 km away.
By Bus: Take NH 22 from Shimla and drive till Karchaam passing through Narkanda, Rampur, Bushehar, Sarhan and Wangtu. From Karchham, take the state highway and reach Tabo via Ribba.