Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

From Spiti trips in the past, Dhankar remains one of the most special places from Himachal Pradesh and there are multiple reasons for that. Location of the village, Dhankar Gompa, architecture of these houses, wonderful home stay experiences, local food of Spiti, Leopard trails, hikes to nearby lake and lot more. We are making an attempt to share about Dhankar village of Spiti Valley along with some tips for folks who may want to visit Dhankar in future. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Above is the photograph of Spiti river flowing through high mountains of Spiti on both the sides and understanding the scale is more important here. Just notice is the man walking on the road. I am sure you can't even notice him, so imagine the grandness of these landscapes. After a week in Spiti, I started loving these hues. 

Dankhar is old capital of Spiti and relatively large village built on a mountain, which stands out into the main valley. Dhankar village rises 300 meters above the Spiti river you see in the photograph. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

One needs to drive up from main highway to reach the village.  Dhankar Monastery is located at a beautiful place and the drive is even more interesting with views of snow capped mountains on the left overlooking Spiti river. Above photograph is clicked somewhere between the village and highway. And the village you see in above photograph is Dhankar Village. The Monsatery is on the peak on the left where you see cluster of buildings at the top. and the house on right top of the photograph is the homestay where we stayed. We have shared about this home stay in detail, so do check out that section as well. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Dhankar Monastery is also known to have been Nyingma-pa, Sakya-pa and Kagyu-pa, depending upon the religious allegiance of the King’s family. One of the major attractions of Dhankar Monastery is statue of Vairochana consisting of 4 figures seated back to back. It also houses a collection of various centuries old thankas and that's pretty interesting. In above photograph you see a yellow Monastery which is on right of above photograph, that's a new and big monastery and it's situated at the entry of the village. There are rooms to stay in this monastery as well. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture


 
This photograph gives a great sense about the place we are talking about in this photograph. Look at it again and try to imagine the space. Try to imagine yourself standing by the road and looking at Spiti river on the left and Dhankar village on these huge mountains on the right. Since there is so much water visible in the river, you will be surprised to know that there are water challenges in Dhankar village. So families of the village need to carefully use water and need to bring water through tankers. 

Dhankar village is situated at an elevation of approximately 3800 meters. The monastery complex is built on a high  mountain overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers on the left. That's one of the main reasons that Dhankar gompa is considered to be located at a very special location. The monastery was built approximately one thousand years ago and now belongs to the Gelugspa School. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Dhankar used to be traditional capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century and has some features dating back to the 12th century. Dhang means cliff in himachali language and khar means fort. So essentially Dhankar means fort on a cliff which defines the place quite literally. It was the palace of the early rulers of Spiti. The rulers of Dhankar also gave justice to the people and were famous for their harsh penalties until the British replaced them.

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

After reaching Dhankar, we had to find a good place to stay. There are multiple home-stays. First we went to the homestay which is at the beginning of the village and near new monastery. Charges were high w.r.t. the accommodation offered so we moved on. Finally we stayed in a homestay which was close to the fort and the highest peak of Dhankar village. We got a deal for 1200 rs for 5 of us. This included very good rooms to stay, dinner and the breakfast. Food served by our host Dolma was awesome. Breakfast here was my best meal in Spiti valley. 

While in Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh the majority of options of stay are Home-Stays except few hotels in some of the core parts of the valley. And if you start comparing hotels of this region with Home-stay, you would certainly see value in opting Home-Stay as this is certainly a very different world from lifestyle and culture standpoint. And Homestays are better options if you want to observe some of the lifestyle and cultural influences of the region. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

This is how mountains around Dhankar looked in the morning from our room window. Some of us started the day with trek to Dhankar lake. I was very tired last day so chose to get up a little late. Rest of the folks got up early and trekked to Dhankar lake and all of them had fun, except the fact that they lost the way while coming back. Overall plan for the day got delayed but that's how a trip should be.

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

During our week long trip to Spiti Valley , we hadn't done any advanced bookings but we had tentative stoppages in our heads. Most of the times we landed at the destinations late in the evening and then we used to search for a homestay. 

Related Post - Road-Trip from Shimla to Nako through Kinnaur : Spiti Diaries

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

As we entered into Dhankar Village after seeing some spectacular views of Spiti river surrounded by huge mountains covered with snow and with thick shadows of the clouds around the valley. We saw a Monastery which is almost at the entrance of the village and it's comparatively new. We walked down to check if there are rooms available but then found that space was not that great and the manager was expecting more than what usually the charges should have been for that kind of space. We moved on. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

After roaming around for a while we found one of the best locations in the village to stay. It was located on the other extreme in terms of height and the boundary of the village. The homestay offer complete view of the the village downwards and there is nothing up :), along with view of the other side is deep valley meeting the Spiti river. 

Related Post - Basmati Dhaba at Badhal, on the way to Spiti Valley & Kinnaur from Shimla

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Above photograph is clicked from the front-yard of Eay-ma-ho home stay and you can see village houses spread over a radius of 1 kilometer or little more. The mountain on the left takes to the beautiful Dhankar lake and some of us trekked to the lake early in the morning from our homestay. 

Related post - Road-trip from Nako to Kaza via Gue Monastery, Himachal Pradesh

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

That's the early morning view from our room at Eay-ma-ho home stay. These snow covered peaks look even more beautiful when you are wrapped in warm blankets. It's chilly wind outside the room and being on top of the hill it was very cold especially when there was no sunlight. During the day, it's sunny and pleasant during summers. One needs to take care of the skin if you plan to spend lot of time under sun in Spiti. 

Related Post - How to reach Spiti Valley from Delhi and things to do around Kinnaur/Spiti in Himachal Pradesh

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Here is Dolma aunty who runs this homestay with the help from her daughter-in-law. In above photograph her grandson was making some demand to her. This is shot when we were having our dinner in their kitchen. That was first moment and I would say the special one, when we saw how Kitchen look in Spiti and there is this special technique to keep different rooms warm through a steel pipe which goes through every room and at the bottom of it there is a place where wood is burnt. 


Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Most of the stays in Spiti valley are pretty reasonable unless you are there in some festive time or peak season. Even then I would not expect it to be very high.

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

That's how the sky looked after sunset at Dhankar and shot from Eay-ma-ho home stay. The homestay is very close to a steep mountain. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Above photograph shows the frontyard of the homestay and snow covered peaks in front of it. If you go further, you see the whole Dhankar village in the valley and the Dhankar Monsatery on the right side. 


Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

That's the breakfast we had at Eay-ma-ho home stay and I loved it. Everything organic, fresh and delicious. That's the curd made of Yak Milk. The Chatni is finely cut onion, tomoatos, garlic and some local herbs. The break is made of some special technique which is hard for me to explain. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

That's the panoramic view you get from front-yard of the Eay-ma-ho home stay in Dhankar Village. 

Related Post - Dhankar to Kalpa - Back journey from Spiti to Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture
Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Related post - Kalpa to Shimla - Last leg of our road trip to Spiti & KInnaur in Himachal Pradesh

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Ok, are you wondering what is it in above photograph. That's a toilet which is different from what you see in other parts of India. And there is reason for this. Water is a severe issue in these terrains of Spiti Valley. Although there are multiple rivers and lakes around but building a good water supply system is a challenge. So these folks use water is a very optimised way. Toilet is a place where lot of water is used. 

In above toilet, there is a huge tank below these 2 hole and you see some sort of soil around one of the corners. There is a bucket and a mug on other side which you don't see in this photograph and a tap just outside this toilet with handwash. I don't think I need to explain the whole process now. Basically instead of flushing water, you put this soil when you are done :). 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

As sun came out, shows on the ground started playing a huge role in enhancing the beauty of these landscapes. Sunlight brings real drama to these landscapes, especially areas which are completely dry and full of rocks & sand mountains. Above photograph was clicked from our homestay at Dhankar. You see a new Monastery in above photograph and the architecture of the old one is very interesting & unique. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Are you wondering why we are not talking about how to reach Dhankar? Probably we assumed that you have checked other blogposts from Spiti Valley on Travellingcamera. Let me share again, if you have not :

How to reach Dhankar in Spiti Valley :

1. Driving is best option to explore Spiti Valley. 

If I have to share about how to plan a visit. It's between Kaza and Tabo, so if you are coming from Shimla side, you can plan to visit Dhankar after Tabo and if you are coming from Manali then drive from Kaza to Dhankar. It's a beautiful place to spend at least one night. 

Nearest Airports are Kullu & Shimla. Depending upon the month you are choosing for Spiti trip, you can decide your route. If you are planning to come from Manali side during winters, make sure you check about situation of passes. Same is true for Shimla side commute as well. Be extra cautious during monsoons, especially in Shimla and Kinnaur region roads get blocked due to landslides. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Here is a 120 degree view from our homestay at Dhankar. Since our homestay was on one of the highest peaks of Dhankar village, the view from there was awesome. Almost whole Dhankar village was visible from there and Spiti river on the other end, close to snow covered peaks. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Finally fellow trekkers came back and we headed towards the kitchen to enjoy our best breakfast in Spiti Valley. At times I wonder if we should call Spiti a 'valley' or something else :). Our host served different kinds of parathas with veg chutney and curd. Along with the delicious food, we had some touchy conversation and exchanged some emotional dialogues with our hostess & her grandson. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Soon it was time to put our bags in the car and start driving back. Above photograph shows Dolma and her grandson bidding good-bye to all of us. If I visit Dhankar in future, I would love to stay in same homestay and take along few prints of these photographs for Dolma's family. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

Main Things to see or do in Dhankar Village of Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh :

1. Dhankar Gompa
2. Dhankar Fort/Palace
3. Dhankar lake
4. Hikes around the village
5. In Winters : Snow Leopard trails with local guide
6. Pin Valley National Park, if you have more days around Dhankar. 

Dhankar Village - A spectacular village in Himachal Pradesh overlooking Spiti river and Pin river, with very old Gompa, stunning lake and a wonderful fort telling tails of Tibetan Culture

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling - 

1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins.
2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin. 
3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem. 
4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits. 
5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite.

....

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