90 Days Cycling in the Himalayas: Day 12: Tabo to Dhankar

The monastery run! The day we rode from the Tabo Monastery to the Dhankar Monastery in Spiti. This was part of our 90 day ride in the Himalayas covering, Spiti, Zanskar, Batalik, Ladakh, Nubra, Shyok, Hanle, Tso Moriri, Garhwal and Kumaon!

Day 12 Tabo to Dhankar

After a rest day, a downhill day it was third time lucky, as it was a 30 km day!

As we exited Tabo the British lady from Nako stopped us and enquired about Nicolas the cyclist. At that moment it struck me, the travel world in Spiti is small, in a few days everyone knows each other on the road.

At breakfast we met a girl from Maharashtra, Jyoti, backpacking through Spiti, she was travelling on a shoestring budget and doing a fantastic job of it. With good conversation our breakfast was extended and we left for Dhankar later than planned.

On the way we stopped at the village of Shichling where Si continued his hunt for Sattu. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t know exactly what he wanted and the locals didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. The conversation in search of the missing ingredient was nonetheless amusing for me to hear.

We had passed many a bee keeper from the start of our journey. They would have their boxes of bees spread out near flowering plants. Before the climb to Dhankar I was stopped by one such gent, who invited us to his tent to taste the fresh unprocessed honey. The light golden coloured nectar was so delicious that we ended up buying half a kilo, ignoring the extra weight which we cyclists normally despise! Little did we know that our acquisition was one of the most sought after things by travellers.

Cycling from Tabo to Dhankar
Si and the windswept rock!
Cycling from Tabo to Dhankar
The Tabo Bridge famous for nothing in particular!
Cycling from Tabo to Dhankar
The flat roads for the day!
Honey in Spiti
Honey, I shrunk the bees!

The Dhankar Climb

The climb to Dhankar was preceded by a lunch of chocolate biscuits, though a friendly dog sat and stared at us, until he has eaten most of it! The climb itself was mighty tough and Si had many moments of self revelation as he needed to dig very deep to keep the wheels rolling.

Half way up the climb a little girl ran towards us with a bucket of sweet peas which she offered Si and me. She had just plucked it from the fields. The peas were delicious and the gesture of that child heart warming. It is small things like this which makes cycling worth all the pain and effort.

At Dhankar we once again took a room at the monastery guest house which resembled a hotel. Whether that is a good thing or bad, is difficult to say!

We reached early noon and walked down to the monastery precariously perched on the edge of a sliding mountain. Many years ago an earthquake had caused a landslide which has left the monastery hanging by a thread. One is never sure if it would be the last visit to Dhankar.

Cycling from Tabo to Dhankar
Welcome to Dhankar Gompa
Cycling from Tabo to Dhankar
Someone with an imagination went to the rock in the middle of the river and painted an eye on it to make it look like a fish.
Cycling from Tabo to Dhankar Spiti
The flat roads before the Dhankar climb!
Cycling from Tabo to Dhankar Spiti
The windswept mountains!

Dhankar Monastery

The Dhankar Monastery had a peaceful vibe and it was a pleasure spending time there. Until some loud tourists from Ludhiana trotted in and mucked up the place! Taking photographs where ‘No Photography’ boards were put up.

We then went to the top of the mountain to see the sunset and checked out the ‘old fort’ which looks and smells like a cattle stable!

After dark, Si’s search for Sattu resumed and he struck gold, as he found the secret ingredient in a tiny homestay behind the monastery. The lady refused to take money and gave it as a gift from the land. When the lady got to know we were on cycles, she told us that Si’s friends had stayed the night at her place the previous day! The Spiti coincidences never ceasing.

Back at our rest house we grabbed dinner in the common room. Neither of us watch TV, but they had the idiot box blaring with idiotic things. So we switched to the safest channel in a monastery, National Geographic! Unfortunately the next couple of scenes were of lions mating and then ripping into bloody flesh. Scenes not appropriate for a monastery maybe!

The troupe from the dormitory descended simultaneously to the dining hall and before we knew, conversation swung dangerously between meta physics and religion. Unfortunately the contributors to the conversation knew little about religion and nothing about physics!

Fortunately Si came to the rescue and trolled everyone, as an accomplished academic should, one at a time about their expertise in physics! Thus ended the day ridiculing pseudo intellectuals!

Dhankar Monastery
The Dhankar Monastery sits atop that craggy hill!
Dhankar Monastery history
Reading material about the monastery
Dhankar Monastery Prayer room
The next few pictures are from inside the monastery

Dhankar Monastery Prayer Room

Dhankar Monastery
Battered Ram!
Dhankar Monastery
Towering over the monastery!
Dhankar Monastery
The view of the Spiti River from atop the monastery
Dhankar Village
Dhankar Village
Dhankar Monastery Paintings
Painting from the Dhankar Monastery
Dhankar Monastery Painting
Dhankar Monastery Painting
Dhankar Monastery Painting
Dhankar Monastery Painting
Dhankar Monastery View
The main highway on the right side of the river, while the Pin Valley National Park road on the opposite bank
Dhankar Fort View
Sunset from Dhankar Fort
Dhankar Village
Not what it looks like! Horns of a ram is set on the roof of a house
Dhankar Monastery at night
Dhankar Monastery by night!
Dhankar Monastery Guest House
A trippy painting by an Argentinian traveller in the monastery guest house!

Route Profile

An easy day of riding. The road is flat for the most part. A small easy 7 km climb before Shichling. The wind on the other hand isn’t easy! In the entire Spiti Valley, the wind picks up post 2 pm and it is prudent to finish most of your riding prior to that.

Immediately after Shichling there is a fork in the road, the lower going towards Kaza, and the right climbing for Dhankar. It is a steep climb to the monastery with not a spot of shade.

Food is available in Shichling. Dhankar has plenty of stay and eating options for a variety of budgets.

Elevation Profile from Tabo to Dhankar


Food for Two 600
Stay for Two 700


2 Replies to “90 Days Cycling in the Himalayas: Day 12: Tabo to Dhankar”

  1. Compared to previous days this seemed like easy riding. It is very touching to read about the spontaneity of the little girl sharing her peas and the village woman giving her grain without payment. Poorer people always seem more generous, compared to the rich who give from their abundance.

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