Lying on a cliff at an elevation of 3894 metres, in the Spiti valley between the town of Tabo and Kaza, overseeing the Spiti River is the Dhankar Monastery. The word “Dhang” or “dang” means cliff and the word “kar” or “khar” means fort, which together justify the location and the structure of Dhankar Monastery. This monastery is one among the 100 most endangered monuments in the world. The monastery is built with traditional materials like mud, timber and stone with small windows in the walls meant for the sunlight to enter the monastery and brighten every corner. Since the old monastery which formerly served as a prison is deteriorating, a new monastery has been built in the Shichilling Village which houses about 100 Lamas.
The new and old monasteries both belong to the Gelugpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery has some of the most beautiful Buddhist paintings, sculptures and thankas. One of the most famous statues located in one of the prayer halls in the monastery is the statue of “Vairochana” or the Dhayan Buddha which consists of 4 complete figures of Buddha seated back to back. In the old multi-storeyed monastery also known as the Lha-O-pa Gompa there are five well known halls including the Dukhang and Kanjur. The “Diamond Being” or the Vajradhara adorned with scarfs and flower placed in a glass altar, is another famous aspect of the Dhankar Monastery. The depictions of Shakyamuni, Lama Cho Drag and Tsongkhapa adorning the walls of the Lhakhang Gompa is a must visit for all visitors.