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This circuit is planned as a two week itinerary which can be altered to time and interest. The two ends of the circuits Shimla and Dharamshala are well served by air, rail and road. The circuit itself is by road.
Day 1. Shimla. There are two recently built monasteries. The Geluk-pa sect at Sanjauli and the Nyingma-pa, at Kasumpti.
Day 2. Leave for the Baspa valley in Kinnaur. 229 km from Shimla. There are 33 Buddhist monasteries and temples in Kinnaur district and the Nyingma-pa Drug-pa and Geluk-pa sects are well represented. En route visit the small nineteenth century Buddha temple at Rampur 130 km from Shimla.
Day 3. Leave for Recong Peo (2290 m) 38 km from Sangla village. En route visit some of the four small temples in the picturesque village of Sapni, Baru, Sangla and Batseri. Recong Peo is Kinnaur district headquarters and has a recently built gompa where his Holiness the Dalai Lama conducted a Kalchakra ceremony in 1992. The ancient settlement of Kalpa with spectacular views lies just above Recong Peo. Here is the Hu-Bu-lan-kar gompa said to have been founded by Rinchensang-po.
Day4. Leave for Nako. At 2950m, 107 km from Recong Peo, 7 km on a side road bifurcating near Yangthang the village of Nako is built around a lake. On its northern side are four Buddhist temples that house large prayer wheels. Near Nako is a rock where a footprint like impression is ascribed to Padmasambhava.
Lippa. 14 km from Jangi. The gompa has three temples. Two house the sacred Kangyur and Tangyur texts and the third is the ‘Goldang Chakodar’.
Kanum. Access from Spillo. This is a complete monastic village and dates back to the time of Rinchensang-po
Pooh. On the highway. This has a Drug-pa monastery.
Day 5. Leave for Tabo. At 3050m, 65 km from Nako. Tabo is in arid Spiti where there are thirty monasteries spread over its rugged terrain. Tabo is the largest monastic complex in Spiti and has nine temples, twenty three chortens, a monks’ chamber and a nuns’ chamber. The Tabo monastery was founded in 996 AD by the great teacher Rinchensang-po and is renowned for its breathtaking murals and stucco statues. This has been declared a ‘World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO.
Day 6. Leave for Kaza. At 3660 m, 47 km from Tabo. Kaza is Spiti sub-divisional headquarter and has a gompa. En route visit Dhankar gompa. This rests high over the valley and is a stupendous example of local architecture. It is regarded to have once been a fort and was also the residence of the ruler of Spiti – the Nono. Dhankar is a repository of Buddhist scriptures in the Bhoti script.
Day 7. Kaza. Based here & visit the Ki (Kye) monastery – 4116 m, 12 km from Kaza. This labyrinth of rooms and corridors once acted as a fort. It houses valuable thangkas and offers a panoramic view of the area. Also visit the small gompa at Kibber – 4205m, 9 km from Ki gompa. Kibber is the highest permanently inhabited village of the region connected by a motorable road. More time at Kaza will enable you to visit the Hikim, Komic and Langja monasteries.
Day 8. Leave early for Keylong (3350 m), 188 km. Lahaul has twenty nine Buddhist monasteries. Almost all are affiliated to the Drug-pa sect. The rugged route from Kaza to Keylong, is over Kunzam Pass (4551 m). En route, there are gompas at Damphug, Chokur, Jagdang, Shashin, Khangsar, Gondhla, Teling, Dalang and Gajang.
Day 9. Based at Keylong visit the following monasteries – Guru Ghantal (8 km), associated with both Padmasambhava and Reinchensang-po. This is regarded to be the oldest one in Lahaul. Kardang (5 km), is one of the most revered places of the Drug-pa sect. Tayul (6 km) and Gemur (18 km) may also be visited.
Day 10. Leave for Manali. At 2050m, 115 km. The route is over the Rohtang Pass. Manali has four recently-built monasteries. The main one is located in the city centre.
Day 11. Leave for Rewalsar. 132 km. Legend has it that this was the place from where Padmasambhava left to spread the word of the Buddha in the eighth century. This has three monasteries built around a lake. Now rebuilt, the oldest one belongs to the Nyingma-pa order. Adorned with tiny prayer flags the lake has tiny island of floating reed supposedly embodying the spirit of Padmasambhava.
Day 12. Leave for McLeodganj. 1830 m, 160km. This is the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The impressive Namgyal monastery houses larger than life images of the Buddha, Padmasambhava and Avalokteshwara. En route visit the recently built monasteries at Bir and Tashijong.
Day 13. Spend more time at the monastery and visit the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.
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