A traveler who loves lesser explored and mysterious places may not always find such desired destinations. If you are one such traveler, who loves the combination of adventure, pristine location, spirituality, Lhalung monastery seems to be the ideal pick. Located in serene Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. Lhalung’s neighboring village is situated at an altitude of 12001 ft. Now if you are thinking okay, it’s just another monastery in the mountains, then let me assure you, it’s not! Apart from the breathtakingly beautiful landscape, Lhalung is not just a place to visit for its scenic beauty. It is so much more than that. It is said, whoever visits Lhalung Monastery do experience an emotion, a feeling which is indescribable yet joyful.
The History Behind Lhalung
Lhalung monastery was founded by the great Tibetan Buddhist, Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo, during the 10th-century CE. He was the ruler of GUJE, Spiti and Zanskar kingdoms of western Himalayas. Lhalung monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the Spiti region. Every place has its history and this one comes with a fascinating tale. “lha” means deities and” lung” means land. Thus “Lhalun” basically means the land of Gods. The deity Lhalung is the head of all the deities of the valley. Lhalung deity as well as, other deities are believed to reside or emerge from the Tangmar Mountain, which is located just beyond the village. It is believed that this Tangmar mountain changes its color as per the mood of the deity. Red for angry, blue for hurt and yellow for happiness, etc.
Locals believe that the monastery was built by the Gods, within one night, after a willow tree was planted by Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo and he promised to build a temple in that place if it survives a year. The willow tree which is present at the monastery premises is considered to be the same one which was planted by the king.
The Captivating Interiors
This monastery is known as the golden temple and it might be due to the numerous gold leaves kept in the shrine. The shrine or “sarkhang” consists of a chamber filled with beautiful studded images of various deities. The inside walls of the monastery are not allowed to be touched. It is felt that the monastery needs to be maintained in its purest form otherwise the angels residing at the monastery will leave and the locals will stay unprotected. The local people say that the natural forces of Spiti have ruined various external structures but spared the monastery. It is evident that the monastery has been built somewhat like a fort but with time the other monuments have tumbled. The colorful murals, frescos, and the carvings on the inside walls of the main chamber depict Buddhists rituals. One will keep wondering the level of art, finesse, and technicality required to create such astonishing décor which is to stand the test of time. Unmarred, untouched, undusted, yet still so attractive.
Outside the main gompa, a white shrine is present which comprises four images of Lord Buddha, facing four directions. It is believed to be of the same age as that of the monastery. In ancient times, this monastery served as an educational center. Now it is a chosor site, that is, a place of worship for the Buddhists. The daily worshipping in the monastery begins at 6 a.m. It is attended by the local people. It closes at 6 p.m.
Those who are looking for comfort and luxury Lhalung is not for them. The place may seem barren, a place of ruins and relics and certainly not a popular site among tourists. It might be rough, a little hard to reach, but if you look closely, absolutely beautiful. Dedicated to offering peace to all those who come to visit it.
How To Reach
Lhalung lies in between Tabo and Kaza. One can take the bus or the taxi, from Shimla, Bhunter or even Chandigarh to reach Spiti. No accommodation is available is Lhaung Monastery but both private hotels and government guest houses are present in Tabo, Kaza, Lozar, Spiti, and Poh.