Key Monastery is in the Spiti Valley in the Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh. This is the biggest monastery in Spiti valley. The Key Monastery is at an altitude of 4,166 meters above sea level. The Gompa is situated on a hilltop and is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Gelugpa sect. Gompa is close to the Spiti river, its whole view is very beautiful. It is a religious training center for lamas and is said to have had 100 monks in 1855. The monastery is dedicated to Lochen Tulku, who was the 24th incarnation of the great translator Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo.
History of Key Monastery
Dromton, a disciple of the famous teacher Atisha, is said to have founded the grand Key Monastery in the 11th century. This monastery in Spiti valley is 1000 years old and is the largest in Lahaul and Spiti districts. The Spiti river near the monastery looks even more attractive. The monastery is home to approximately 250-300 lamas. Anyone would be mesmerized by his religious training. The monastery was severely attacked by the Mongols. In the 17th century, the Mongols attacked again and caused a lot of damage. It was badly damaged by the Dogra army in 1841. In 1975 a severe earthquake caused much damage. But due to the determination of the Lamas, even today the monastery is more beautiful than before. And surrounded by the beautiful snow-capped Himalayas and glaciers, this monastery attracts thousands of devotees and tourists from all over the world.
Largest and Most Powerful Monastery
The height of the Key Monastery is about 13,500 feet and it is the largest and most powerful monastery in Kaza. The Key Monastery is also known for its beautiful murals, thangkas, rare manuscripts, stucco images, and peculiar musical instruments. Hundreds of lamas receive their religious training at the Key Monastery. The Gompa also has a collection of weapons that were used to drive away robbers. Kai Gompa is 210 km from Manali and 12 km from Kaza.
The walls of the Key Monastery are covered with paintings and frescoes and the monastery houses a collection of ancient frescoes and books, including images of the Buddha. The monastery has a three-story underground floor used for storage and a room called Tangyur richly painted with frescoes. The ground floor houses the beautifully decorated assembly hall and rooms for several monks. About 250 monks live in the monastery and some monks go to South Indian monasteries during winter. These monasteries have their own regular heads; These heads are reincarnations of Guru Rinpoche. The current head of Math is from the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. It is Guru Rinpoche’s 19th birthday.
Its millennium celebration was held in 2000 in the presence of the Dalai Lama. A new prayer hall was inaugurated by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on 3 August 2000. It was presented through a tableau at the 69th Republic Day celebrations held in Delhi. In recent times Math has also hosted the “Kachen Dugyal Memorial Old Aged – Handicapped Society” which provides accommodation for many elderly and disabled people.
How to Reach Key Monastery
The nearest bus station to Key Monastery is Kaza, which is 14 km away. To reach Math one has to come to Kaza first. Buses ply from Manali and Shimla to Kaza. It is a journey of 10 to 12 hours from both places. You can book a cab from Kaza to the Math which takes around 35 to 40 minutes. The best time to visit the beautiful monastery is considered to be from July to September.