Gandhola Monastery in Spiti | Guru Ghantal Gompa

 In India, Spiti, Travel

Gandhola Monastery or Guru Ghantal Monastery in Spiti Valley, is located 18 Kilometers before Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti District. It is situated on a hill above Tupchiling Village at the sacred junction of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers, which together form the Chenab River. 

Gandhola Monastery is among the best places to visit in Spiti Valley for tourists to look at and explore the culture. So, why not know more about this ancient relic by having a great Spiti Valley trip booked for this year? 

Yes, this could be the time to explore such monasteries in Spiti Valley with all the excitement to know more about such places.

History of Gandhola Monastery

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Image Source : Wikipedia

The Gandhola Monastery was founded by Padmasambhava during the 8th century and is now connected with the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Now, according to the local traditions, the Padma bka’i thang, discovered in 1326 in the Yarlung Valley by Urgyan Lingpa, the site was connected with Padmasambhava. But, this site was a Buddhist establishment even earlier than that. 

It is said to be the oldest monastery in the Lahaul region. And, in the year 1857, historians discovered a copper goblet which was the oldest example of metalwork from the 1st century. Then, the other instance depicted that the Buddhist civilization was very advanced at that time as well. The rocky cliffs of Tupchiling village where the Gandhola Monastery is situated are very close to the point where there is a confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers. 

Now, the Gandhola Monastery is maintained by the order of Drukpa monks and nuns, like other monasteries. It also comprises some of the religious treasures with amazing architectural specimens which is really valued. Also, in 1959 it went through a major renovation but the charm always remained still for the Gandhola Monastery. 

Suggested read: Spiti in winter

Highlights of the Gandhola Monastery

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The unique and special feature of the Gandhola Monastery is the wooden idols of the Buddha, said to be installed by the monk Rinchen Zangpo. You would also find other possessions like sculptures made of clay, idols of Guru Padma Sambhava, Brijeshwari Devi, and other lamas. There is an image of Goddess Kali that is made of black stone, paintings, murals, and white marble heads of Avalokitesvara which are known to have been installed by the founders. 

There is a seven-storey fort made of stone and timber and was built by Raja Man Singh who was once the ruler of Kullu Kingdom. Also, it has the prized sword which is put there in the fort. And the most special thing here! Have you ever seen the Lamas dance? They do it here on the annual Ghantal festival with masked dance celebrated on the 15th lunar day, embarking on a journey to Lahual and discovering the significance of Buddhism. 

Suggested read: Spiti Valley treks

What is Gandhola Monastery?

Gandhola Monastery is a sacred place located in Spiti Valley. It’s a peaceful sanctuary where monks live and pray. The monastery is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, making it a tranquil spot for meditation and reflection. 

Visitors can explore the monastery’s colorful buildings adorned with intricate artwork and statues of Buddhist deities. Inside, the air is filled with the scent of incense, and the sound of prayers fills the halls. Gandhola Monastery is not just a religious site; it’s a place of spiritual significance and cultural heritage.

What can visitors expect to see at Gandhola Monastery?

Visitors to Gandhola Monastery can expect to see a serene place filled with beauty and spirituality. As they enter, they’ll be greeted by stunning architecture, with intricate designs adorning the walls and ceilings. Inside, they’ll find peaceful prayer halls where monks chant and meditate. 

The monastery houses sacred relics and ancient scriptures, offering a glimpse into Buddhist traditions and teachings. Outside, the surrounding landscape of rolling hills and greenery adds to the tranquil atmosphere. Whether you’re seeking solace or simply curious about Buddhist culture, Gandhola Monastery promises a memorable experience for all who visit.

How can visitors access Gandhola Monastery?

Visitors can access Gandhola Monastery by various means. The monastery is nestled atop a serene hill, accessible by a winding road that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. 

Many tourists prefer to hire local taxis or use public transportation to reach the foot of the hill. From there, they can either hike up the trail, enjoying the natural beauty along the way or take a cable car ride that provides a scenic journey to the monastery entrance. 

Once at the monastery, visitors are greeted by the peaceful ambiance and can explore its ancient halls, prayer rooms, and stunning architecture.

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