While many monasteries are found throughout Tibet there are also quite a few also located in India. The Tabo monastery is one of these. Tabo is located in northern India in the Tago village and was founded in 996 CE. Buddhist king Yeshe O’d is credited for founding the monastery but it has been visited and looked after by many of the Dalai Lama’s. The site is known as the oldest continuing Buddhist compound in the Himalayas or India. The landscape surrounding the monastery is rocky and cold situated over 10,000 feet above sea level. The residing monks also use caves and rock cliffs as important meditation locations that add to the beauty of the monastery.
During the 17th to the 19th century’s there were several attacks on the monastery including political turmoil that occurred just across the Spiti River. In 1837 the Tabo assembly hall itself was attacked and the evidence still can be seen on some parts of the walls. From about 1846 until the 1950s the region enjoyed peace, but during the Indo-China border disputes the monastery fell victim to being caught in the middle. Natural disasters also played a major role in causing damages to the monastery including a horrific earthquake that occurred in 1975, but was quickly rebuilt and repaired back to normal conditions.
The architecture of the monastery is stunning. It has nine separate temples. The main temple itself holds a wealth of information and documents, and also includes various paintings, sculptures, and inscriptions. The second largest temple is the Temple of Dromton, and it contains many wall paintings and painted wooden planks. This Temple is part of the group of newer temples that include the White Temple and Mahakala Vajra Bhairava Temple that houses the deity of the Gelukpa sect. Older temples include the Golden temple that is believed to once be covered in gold, but has long since been renovated and is now covered with magnificent murals.
The monastery was built to withstand both natural and intimidating forces with three feet thick mud and brick walls that encompass all of the 68,000 sq feet including a nun’s residence. With stunning architecture and history both rich and inspiring, Tabo monastery is one you have to see with your own eyes.