Dhankar: Offbeat Gem in Himachal Pradesh

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Dankhar, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, 172113
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Listing ID: 85063637
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A short trip to Spiti Valley can truly make you feel stress-free and rejuvenated. With its towering mountain peaks, majestic glaciers, frozen lakes, thrilling treks, and scenic drives, Spiti Valley is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. Today, I invite you to join me as I explore one of Spiti’s most enchanting villages – Dhankar.

Welcome to Dhankar

Dhankar, also known as Dhangkar, is a serene village located just 28 kilometers from Kaza, a journey that takes less than an hour. The name 'Dhankar' is derived from two words – 'Dhang,' which means cliff, and 'kar,' which means fort, aptly describing a fort situated on a cliff. This scenic village offers a blend of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination in Spiti Valley.

The Dhankar Monastery

The main attraction of Dhankar is the ancient monastery, which overlooks the confluence of the Spiti and Pin rivers. This historic site is believed to have been a fort monastery, much like the Key and Tabo Monasteries, and is part of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Built in the 17th century, although some claim it is even older, the Dhankar Monastery houses the main deity Khando Chokgyong.

Please note, there is an entry fee of Rs 25 to visit the monastery. Inside, photography is not allowed, so you’ll have to soak in the serene beauty and sacred atmosphere without your camera. The monastery also features a meditation cave where visitors can find a moment of peace and reflection.

The Village of Dhankar

The entire village of Dhankar is home to 60-70 families who live a simple and beautiful life. There are 3-4 restaurants and some homestays where you can spend a night to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of this place. The village's livelihood largely depends on farming and tourism, making it a charming spot for visitors seeking an authentic experience.

The Dhankar Lake Trek

For those seeking adventure, the trek to Dhankar Lake is a must. This glacial lake, also known as Suraj Tal, is considered sacred by the locals, and its water comes from the streams flowing out of the glaciers. The trek to the lake is relatively moderate, covering a total distance of 4 kilometers (2 kilometers up and 2 kilometers down) and typically takes 2-2.5 hours. The lake, situated at an altitude of 4140 meters, offers stunning views and is known for its changing colors depending on the angle you view it from.

Tips for the Trek

The trail to Dhankar Lake can be steep and challenging at times. It’s advisable to wear trekking shoes with good grip, apply sunscreen, and carry plenty of water. Camping and bathing in the lake are not allowed as the locals consider it holy, and it’s important to respect their beliefs.

Historical Insights

Did you know that Dhankar was once the capital of Spiti in the 17th century before it was moved to Kaza? The Dhankar Gompa, built like a fort to protect against looters, still stands as a testament to its strategic importance and historical significance.

A Must-Visit Destination

If you’re planning a trip to Spiti Valley, spending a night in Dhankar is highly recommended. The positive energy and serene environment of this place will leave you spellbound. From the ancient monastery and its breathtaking views to the enchanting trek to Dhankar Lake, this village offers a unique and enriching experience.

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