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Ten facts about Dhankar, Spiti Valley

  • Dhankar Gompa (also Dankhar, Drangkhar or Dhangkar Gompa; Brang-mkhar or Grang-mkhar) is a village and also a Gompa, a Buddhist temple in the district of Lahaul and Spiti in India.

1. Altitude:

  • It is situated at an elevation of 3,894 metres (12,774 feet) in the Spiti Valley above Dhankar Village, between the towns of Kaza and Tabo. The complex is built on a 1000-foot (300-metre) high spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa.

2. Meaning

  • Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence it means fort on a cliff.

3. Network

  • Mobile network connectivity in the village is not good but BSNL works there.

4. Fort Monastery

  • Dhankar, like Key monastery and Tan Gyud monastery in Spiti, and Thiksey, Likir and Rangdum monasteries in Ladakh, was built as a fort monastery on the Central Tibetan pattern. It was reported to have had 90 monks in 1855.

5. Connectivity

  • Dhankar is approachable by a motorable road, good for small vehicles only, that branches off for from the main Kaza-Samdu road at a point around 24 km from Kaza. The branch road is 8 km in length up to the village.

6. Traditional Capital

  • Dhankar was the traditional capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century and has some features dating back to the 12th century. It was the seat of the early rulers of Spiti, the Nonos, who had the right to cultivate the government lands nearby and were required to keep the fort in repair. They also dispensed justice to the people and were noted for their harsh penalties until the British replaced them.

7. Ways to reach Dhankar

  • To reach Dhankar, one has to either hire a taxi from Tabo or Kaza (return journey rate is approximately 1600 INR,  900 INR to drop at Dhankar) or to get a government bus (only two buses in a day from Kaza as well as Tabo) up to Schichling. From Schichilng, you can try for a hitchhike or you can trek to this eight kms distance. Another option is to hire a taxi from Schichling village, that charges approximately INR 300 to drop

8. Houses

  • Dhankar looks like a bowl-shaped structure in the hills. It seems like almost all the old houses emerged straight from the mountains with their main wall on the back being merged on the hills. This is a specialty of Dhankar houses and from wide angle or from distance provides spectacular views.

9. Secret Herbs

  • Locals from Dhankar village grow secret herbs which are really helpful to cure lung and heart diseases.

10. Tower like structures

  • On the way to Dhankar, you will find tower-like structures which is due to soil erosion, and it’s only found in this valley of India.

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