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Spiti Valley: A Place Where the Gods Live

Spiti valley, a cold desert mountain valley, is located in the north- eastern parts of Himachal Pradesh. The word “Spiti” means “the middle land” and thus Spiti is very aptly named as it is situated between India and Tibet. Spiti has beautiful landscapes, picturesque valleys and peaceful villages with a low population.

A list of religious places to check out in Spiti Valley
Photo by Anisha Tulika (Unsplash)

Spiti has a huge influence of Buddhism due to its geographic location and hence, religion plays a very important role in the day-to-day life of the people living in Spiti. Spiti, an untamed land of solitude and spiritualism, houses a lot of monasteries and temples. The soothing sounds of God praising chants in both temples and monasteries gives one a sense of relief or the “sukoon” that everyone misses in their lives.

So, if you want to experience that sukoon and see the serene architecture situated in and around the Spiti Valley, read on the following list of top religious places of Spiti Valley:

1. Trilokinath Temple

One of the religious places to check out in Spiti Valley is Trilokinath Temple famous as it is visited by Hindus and Buddhists alike
Photo By Government of Himachal Pradesh

A temple visited equally by Hindus and Buddhists, the Trilokinath Temple is situated in the

Udaipur sub- division of Lahual District. In ancient times, the temple was popularly known

as Tunda Vihar. While Hindus consider the temple to belong to Lord Shiva, it is believed

that the Buddhists consider the temple to belong to the deity “Arya Avalokiteshwar or

Garja Fagspa.

This holy temple is very sacred as it is believed to be the Teerath Sthal next only to

Kailash and Mansarover and hence is a very important shrine. Though a lot of stories

are told about the history of the temple, one of the most commonly heard stories is: Back

in the 10th century, seven people used to come out of the lake (presently known as Hinsa

Nala) and drink the milk of the cows grazing nearby. One day, a cow herder boy saw

this and took one of them to his village. Upon reaching the village, the person turned into

marble and since then, a temple has been built around the marble deity.

The Hinsa Nala is believed to have milky white water which remains the same throughout the year even with changing weather.

Best time to visit: The best time to experience the beauty of the Trilokinath Temple is from

April- October.

2. Key Monastery

Another famous religious places to check out in Spiti Valley is Key Monastery which houses a collection of ancient books.
Photo By Yash Raut (Unsplash)

Also known as Kye Gompa, it is the largest monastery in Spiti Valley and houses about

250 monks who reside in the monastery throughout the year. It is situated 12km north of


Founded by Atisha’s (a famous teacher) pupil, Dromtön in the 11th century, but was

destroyed multiple times by Mongols, in wars between Ladakh and Kullu, by the Dogra

army under Ghulam Khan and Rahim Khan, Sikhs, fire and earthquake throughout history.

The monastery has a collection of ancient books and murals which include images of Lord Buddha. The walls of the monastery are covered with paintings, which is a result of

Chinese influence.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit Kye Monastery is in the summer season, during the

months of April- October.

3. Tabo Monastery

Tabo Monastery is one of the religious places in Spiti Valley which is also known as Ajanta of the Himalayas
Photo By Nomad Bikers

Protected by the Archaeological Survey of India as a national historical treasure of India,

Tabo Monastery was built in 996 AD by the Royal Lama Yeshe- O. It is also known as the

daughter monastery of the Tholing Monastery in Ngari (western Tibet).

Tabo is the oldest earthen Buddhist monastery in the Himalayan region and is also

referred to as the Ajanta of the Himalayas.

The temple complex constitutes Stupas, Fittings, Older Temples, Newer Temples and a

Main Temple. Tsug La Khang or the main temple, includes an assembly hall, an entry

hall, and a recessed area which has a shrine area. The older temples constitute the

Mahakala Vajra Bhairava Temple, the White Temple, the Large Temple of Dormton and the Chamber of Picture Treasures. The newer temples include the Golden Temple, the

Bodhisattva Maitreya Temple, the Temple of Dormton and the Temple of Enlightened


Best time to visit: As the winters are harsh, the best time to visit is from May to October.

4. Mrikula Mata Temple

One of religious places to check out in Spiti Valley is Mrikula Mata Temple, which has its links to the Mahabharata but is in dire need of attention.
Photo By Himachal Pradesh General Studies

Believed to be built in the 11th or 12th century and is located just above the market at

Udaipur in Lahaul and Spiti. A large number of devotees visit the temple each year in


Though the temple is under the Archeological Department of Himachal Pradesh, they are

least concerned about the temple. The locals say that one of the walls have tilted and

may collapse anytime.

The temple has a huge significance for the devotees of Goddess Kali. The temple is built

in the Kashtuni style. While the temple looks old and simple, the inside of the temple has

Deodar wood carvings depicting the scenes from Mahabharata and Ramyana. The

temple is also famous as it is believed to be built at the place where Goddess Kali killed

Mahishasur and Raktbeej and hence is no less than a Shaktipeeth. The idol of Kali is

made of silver and is a mix of Rajasthani, Tibetan and Kashmiri styles and has an oddly

proportioned body.

The small and simple temple tells so many stories through its carvings and carries a lot of history with it.

Best time to visit: One can visit the temple during the summer months i.e., May to


5. Kardang Monastery

Kardang Monastery is one of the religious places in Spiti Valley which gives equal rights to both the monks as well as the nuns
Photo From Holidify

A huge white building decked with prayer flags, it’s a very famous and the most

important Drukpa Lineage monastery in the Lahaul valley. Believed to be built in the

12th century, this monastery houses a large library of Buddhist literature which includes

the scriptures of the Sherpa language known as Kangyur and Tangyur.

The first room of the monastery is a 4-foot-high silver chaitya and preserves Lama

Norbu’s skull and ashes. Approximately 64 tantra books and 103 volumes of the

Kangyur are kept in this room. The second room is a prayer hall and has a statue of

Avalokitesvara, an eleven- headed statue.

The monks and nuns of the Kardung Monastery have equal rights and the monks have

permission to marry. They spend summers with their families and return to the

monastery in winter.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit this monastery is in the summer months from May

to October.

6. Giu Mummy

Giu Mummy is another religious places in Spiti Valley which is a must visit as the monastery houses a naturally formed mummy
Photo By Devil on Wheels

An extraordinary boy was born in the 14th century in Giu and came to be known as

Sangha Tenzin. Excelling in every field of study and mastering the Bhoti language, the

boy later embarked on the Buddhism path and left all the worldly pleasures to become

a monk.

Even though Giu was a happy place, the surrounding places had another story altoget

her. The surrounding mountains were constantly being harassed and threatened by the

demons who put a curse on the village. With no knowledge of how to get rid of the

curse, the people of Giu went to Lama Sangha Tenzin.

For the next few years, the Lama engaged in tantric practices and sacred mantras and

on the night of the full moon, got rid of the demons and also promised to continue to

protect the people of the village and took residing in a cave.

Hundreds of years passed and people eventually forgot about him only for the cave to

be destroyed by the earthquake along with the stupas that were kept in the cave with

him in 1975.

In the years that followed, as the caves were near the Indo- Tibetan border, the Indian

soldiers began constructing a road in and around the village of Giu. It was during the

construction that one of the broken stupas was discovered and while clearing the

rubble, a worker found a skull with blood oozing from it.

An astonishing fact was that even after 550 years of being earthed, the Monk’s body

was mummified naturally but had blood still flowing through the mummy and the hair

and nails continued to grow, hence signaling that Monk Sangha Tenzin kept his

promise of protecting the village and continues to live in the form of a mummy.

Best time to visit: The best time to see this extraordinary mummy is during the summer

months of May to October.

7. Tangyud Monastery

Tangyud Monastery is one of the religious places in Spiti Valley which has stood the tests of nature.
Photo By TripAdvisor

Also known as the Komic Monastery, it is situated in Komic village, which is pretty

famous for being the world’s tallest village accessible by road. The monastery was built

by the Sakyapas under the Mongol patronage in the 14th century.

This monastery has time and again stood against all natural disasters. Legends say that

the monks decided to shift the monastery to Hikkim village due to a drought but the

Mahakal statue, which is believed to be the Protector of Dharma, refused to move, along

with the monk who continued praying to the statue, even after the monks tried every

possible way.

During the 1975 earthquake, the monastery in Hikkim village was ruined but the

Mahakal statue and the praying monk stood adamant without any harm. One can also

visit the ruins of the Hikkim village, which is visible from the top of the mountain.

Best time to visit: People can offer their prayers to the protector during the summers from

May to October as winters make it very difficult to reach the monastery.

8. Gandhola Monastery

Gandhola Monastery was founded in 8th Century CE and thus is a must visit religious places to check out in Spiti Valley
Photo From Wikimedia Commons

Gandhola Monastery is also known as Guru Ghantal Gompa and is located 18km

before Keylong, Lahaul. It is said to be founded in the 8th century CE by Guru Rinpoche and is now connected with the Drukpa Kargyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Even though it was built in the 8th century, the place was a Buddhist establishment even

before that. In 1857, a chased goblet which dated to the 1st- 2nd century CE was found

at this location. This goblet is considered to be evidence of the presence of a Buddhist monk’s cell. Avalokitesvara’s damaged marble head was also found here and is said to

be dating back to the time of Nagarjuna in the 2nd century CE.

It also houses a black stone image of Goddess Kali, known as Vajresvari Devi, as a

wooden statue of Lord Buddha, which is said to be installed by the Monk Rinchen

Zangpo, who was a famous translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts.

Best time to visit: One can visit this monastery having a vast history in the summer from

May to October.

9. Tayul Monastery

Tayul Monastery is one of the religious places in Spiti Valley which is assumed to be the oldest monastery
Photo By NativePlanet

Tayul Monastery is assumed to be the oldest monastery in the Northern region. It is

located in the Bhaga Valley of Lahaul and Spiti. The monastery has a lot of interesting

stories associated with it.

One time, Lama Serzang Rinchen saw this monastery while walking around the sacred

Drilburi Peak. While walking, he spotted a small glade in the juniper forest and showed

the same to his pilgrimages and later concluded that the place was an auspicious site to

build a monastery.

Best time to visit: To see the auspicious place, one can visit during the months of May to


10. Kungri Monastery

Kungri Monastery is one of the religious places in Spiti Valley which famous for its Devil Dance
Photo By TripAdvisor

Built in the 1330s; the monastery consists of three east- facing rectangular blocks. It is

located at 3km from Gulling in Pin Valley and 10km from Attargo. The monastery has silk

paintings of Buddhist deities on the inner walls and also has huge statues.

The main attraction of this monastery is the ‘Devil Dance’, which is performed in the month of July every year. The sword dance is also a popular dance form which is part of the Nyingmapa tradition.

Best time to visit: To witness the Devil dance, one should visit during the month of July, while the monastery can be visited during the summer months of May to October.

While Spiti has a lot to offer, it houses some of the most beautiful monasteries and temples and hence was rightly called “a place where the gods live” by the famous novelist Rudyard Kipling.

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