Tabo Monastery is also known as Tabo Chos-Khor Monastery. Tabo Monastery is located in the village of Tabo in the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. The monastery was founded by the Tibetan Buddhist Lotawa Rinchen Zangpo in 996 CE. Tabo Monastery is considered to be the oldest monastery in both India and the Himalayas. The 14th Dalai Lama conducted Kalachakra ceremonies at this monastery in 1983 and 1996. The monastery has been rebuilt as the wooden structures became out of date. However, there are still a large number of frescoes on the walls of the monastery depicting stories of Buddhist deities.
Tabo Monastery Spiti
Earlier this area was a part of Tibet. The monastery is situated above the village of Tabo in the Spiti Valley and is on the left bank of the Spiti River. Tabo village is situated in a flat bowl-shaped valley and the view here is very beautiful. This monastery is situated at an altitude of 3,050 meters above sea level. There are several caves above the monastery which is used by the monks for meditation. And the caves are said to have an assembly hall and some faded paintings on the rock face. and many priceless collections of thankas, manuscripts, preserved sculptures, frescoes, and extensive murals. The monastery is protected as a National Historical Treasure of India and a new du-kang or assembly hall was also built in 1983. The region is situated in a very dry, cold, and rocky region.
Tabo Monastery History
The monastery was built in 996 AD by the Royal Lama Yeshe-O. It was rebuilt 46 years later by Yeshe-o’s grandson. Tabo is believed to have been built as a ‘daughter’ monastery of the Tholing Monastery in Nagari, Tibet. The royal families propagated Buddhism a lot. Following the construction of the Tabo Monastery, political, religious, and economic institutions flourished. After this, some Indian pundits went to Tabo to learn the Tibetan language. Zangpo, a Tibetan lama, was mainly famous for translating Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan.
The walls of the monastery were made very strong and the thickness of the walls is said to be up to 3 feet. The walls were built to survive such harsh winters and destruction and natural calamities. There is an extension in which the nuns reside. The residences of saints and sages have also been built here. It is believed that Lamas also perform tantric rituals in the temples here. Several festivals are held at the monastery and Tibetan monks perform regional songs and dances. The most popular religious festival is the Chakhar Festival, which is celebrated after three years in September or October.
The monastery previously ran the Serkong School. After the establishment of the Serkong School on May 29, 1999, many Buddhist children were educated here. Tabo was considered a major center of learning in the early centuries. The Serkong school is now known as the Kadampa school, the Gelugpa school. The Government of India provides 50% of the funds to run the school.
Tabo Monastery Guest House
Another good facility in Tabo is the Tabo Monastery Guest House is a great place to stay for budget travelers. It will not have facilities like other hotels but it is very nice to stay. Here you may have to share bathrooms and facilities like hot water will also be less.