Om Mani Padme Hum
In dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.
—H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (on the meaning of – Om mani padme hum)
The enchanting mantra – ‘Om Mane Padme Hum’ resonates throughout the Spiti valley. The prayer flags, prayer wheels, mani stones, temples and monasteries, all reverberate how the people of Spiti have embraced this non-violent and compassionate religion since 9th century AD when Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to this valley. Never could I have imagined a green-less valley to be so beautiful and therapeutic for the soul. The monastic life of people and humble hospitality had touched me deep inside.
“Its 5.30 in the morning and so cold outside. Where were you?”
“I drew a painting when I was small. I wanted to live that painting. Kibber looks like that painting or may be more beautiful than that painting.” replied she. With head in hands, we sat near the window to gaze this natural painting. We talked. We talked about people of Spiti. We talked about mountains. And we talked about life. We were no more just travelling in Spiti. We were living Spiti.
Didi knocked the door to have breakfast. The breakfast was yummy. Deshek said he will drop us at Kaza on his Royal Enfield but we already had booked a taxi for Tabo. There is a bus for Kaza from Kibber at 7.30AM in the morning. Didi and Deshek gave us a warm goodbye and I knew I would miss them as badly as I’d miss Kibber.
Kibber to Dhankar village is approximately 50 km and took us almost 2 hours. Dhankar literally means ‘fort on a cliff’ and is known for an ancient monastery which was built on high cliff overlooking the confluence of Spiti and Pin rivers. We went inside the monastery and were amazed by the murals, lamps and prayer seats inside the small mud rooms. The original monastery is on verge of collapsing because of soil erosion and other environmental factors. Still every stretch was so exquisite that words fall short to describe its beauty. We had maggi at a cafe just outside the monastery.
At around 2PM we left for Tabo (UNESCO World heritage site). Dhankar to Tabo is 30km and took us around 2 hr due to poor road at some places. The Tabo Monastery is one of the most pious, biggest and oldest surviving Buddhist establishment in the Trans-Himalayas. I won’t write about Tabo Monastery much because just like every monastery of Spiti, this too was unique, unreal, beautiful and bought me closer to the divine me. [Here is a post from our archives on why Tabo is also known as Ajanta and Ellora of Himalayas].
There is a temple and hostel adjacent to the monastery. We went inside the temple and had long conversation with a lama. We watched the kid lamas play marbles and badminton. The more I know about Buddhism, the more I stay lost in myself. I was sad because today was our last night in Spiti. Over the last few days, Spiti has taught me many things. It made me question everything. These 4 days without mobile phone, WiFi and social media bought me closer to the rustic world. People are meant to be free, wild and real. Most importantly, I have learned to foster connections with people.
Spiti is a paradise. So, if you haven’t been to Spiti, you’re really missing the best memory for your lifetime. Go and see some of the oldest monasteries, highest motorable villages, highest post office in the world, emerald lakes, unreal clouds, beautiful landscapes, ancient culture and simple people.