It is very important that when you visit a place, you also get to know about it. Research is a very vital aspect of travel. Here are some must-know things about Key monastery.
Key monastery is said to be founded by Dromtön in the 11th century. Key is also spelt as Ki, Kye or Kee but most people use Key.
Being a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery which is located at the top of Todh Valley of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, it is at an altitude of 4,166 metres above sea level.
Key is the biggest monastery of Spiti Valley and is also a religious training centre for all lamas. Compared to the survey in 1855 where it had 100 monks, the number has increased to 350 monks today.
The monastery has a royal collection of books and thangkas which are religious painting on a scroll. The walls are stroked with paintings and murals having an aesthetic value of ancient importance which serves as an example of 14th-century monastic architecture influenced by Chinese Art.
Key monastery was attacked time and again in the 17th century by the Mongols and during the 18th century, it was severely damaged in the war which took place between the Ladakh and Kulu regions. Later in 1840, it was ravaged by fire and a year later it again took damage by the Dogra army who were under Ghulam Khan.
In 1975, the monastery faced a violent earthquake causing further damage which was restored under the guidance of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The monastery has Pasada architecture having three floors- underground, a ground and first floor. The underground room is used as a storage area and the ground floor is used as an assembly hall known as Du-khang while the first floor has small resting rooms termed Tangyur, that are used by the monks.
Around the monastery, you can see Kibber village which has lush green fields and an agricultural landscape. Peas and barley are majorly cultivated in these agricultural lands. There are approximately 80 -100 houses made of bricks and mud.
Kaza is the base point for trekking and is situated 12kms away from the monastery.
Tangyud monastery is 14kms away from Key monastery while Dhankar monastery is located 32kms away.
Pin Valley is another tranquil place around Spiti located on the banks of the River Pin. The activities taking place here include archery and horse racing competitions. Pin Valley is about 16 kms away from the monastery.
In order to sightsee Key monastery, its best to explore the place on foot because you may never know what miracle would follow you. The lamas are welcoming and would often offer to give you a walk around.
The best time to visit is from mid-June to October as all the passes open up and the weather is pleasant around mid-year. In order to reach the monastery, you can take a bus or taxi to Kaza which have a decent frequency.
Once you reach Kaza, you will have to hire a private jeep or buses. If you are lucky, they will drop you till the gate of the monastery. From the gate, you will have to hike for about a kilometre in order to reach the monastery.
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