Tabo Monastery is situated in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. The great teacher and translator Rinchen Zangpo founded the monastery in 996 AD and till today, it holds the distinction of being the largest monastic complex in the Spiti region. Tabo Monastery is also known as 'Tabo Chos Khor', which means 'Doctrinal Circle' or 'Doctrinal Enclave' of Tabo, and houses Deva Gyatsho. Tabo is, in fact, a tiny hamlet in itself, with about 350 people as its residents. The sprawling complex of the monastery has about nine temples, 23 chortens.
There is also a chamber housing monks and its extension that serves as
the chamber for nuns. The series of caves on the sheer cliff above the
monastery is believed to have once served as the residence of the monks
and also comprises of an assembly hall. One can still see the traces of
the paintings that once adorned the rock face. The earliest buildings in
the complex of Tabo Gompa include the 'Temple of the Enlightened Gods'
or 'Tsug Lha-khang', housing a vestibule, an assembly hall and a
The stucco and wall paintings here depict the life of Buddha. Another
such building is the 'Golden Temple' or 'Ser-khang'. Extensively
renovated by Senge Nagyal, the ruler of Ladakh, in the 16th century, the
temple is believed to have been layered with gold. It has beautiful
murals adorning its walls and ceiling. Then, there is the 'Mystic
Mandala Temple' or 'Initiation Temple or Kyil-Khor-khang', the site for
the initiation of monkhood. The 'Bodhisattva Maitreya Temple' or
'Byams-Pa Chen-po Lha-khang' of Tabo Monastery houses more than 6 m high
idol of Bodhisattva Maitreya.
Last but not the least is the 'Temple of Dromton' or 'Brom-ston
Lha-khang', founded by Dromton - an important disciple of Atisha, in the
early 11th century. The temple has intricately carved doorway and
splendid murals. a number of buildings were added to the Tabo Monastery
of India, at a later date. These include the 'Chamber of Picture
Treasures' or 'Z'al-ma', an anteroom attached to 'the Temple of
Enlightened Gods' that is covered with Tibetan school of paintings.
The 'Large Temple of Drom ton' or 'Brom-ston Lha-khang', the second
largest temple in the complex, has the figure of Sakyamuni painted on
the front wall. 'Mahakala Vajra-bhairava Temple' or 'Gon-khang or Temple
of Horror 'enshrines the protective deity of the Gelukpa sect and is
only entered after protective meditation. Lastly, we have the 'White
Temple' or 'Kar-abyum Lha-khang', which has intricate ornamentation of
the walls leaving only a low dado, so that monks and nuns can lean