Dhankar Monastery – Spiti Valley

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Dhankar Monastery, also referred to as Dhankar Gompa, is a Buddhist temple situated in the district of Spiti & Lahual in Himalyan region of Northern India. It is situated in Himachal Pradesh state. This Monastery is situated on a cliff between Kaza and Tabo. An amazing view of the Spiti river can be seen from here. This Monastery has a statue of ‘Vairocharan’ displaying four statues of Buddha seated in the 4 directions, along with ancient paintings, murals and texts.

The Dhankar Gomba is over 1000 years old and is connected to the rest of the valley through a Motorable road, which is good for small vehicle only. There is a new monastery in the small village of Shichilling below the old monastery. The old monastery is associated with the Great Translator, Rinchen Zanggpo, and its complex comprises a number of multi-storey buildings perched together.

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History

Dhankar was the traditional capital of the Spiti Valley Kingdom during the 17th century and has some features dating back to the 12th century. Dhang or dang means cliff, and kar or khar means fort. Hence, Dhankar means fort on a cliff. It was the place of the early ruler of Spiti, the Nonos, who has the right to promote the government lands nearby and were necessary to keep the fort in repair. They also gave justice to the people and were famous for their harsh penalties until the British replaced them. This Monastery is also widely known as the Lha-O-pa Gompa. This Monastery belongs to famous Gelukpa order.

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Daily worship is done at the Dhankar Monastery by the temple monks at early morning and everyone is granted permission to take part in the holy worship. It also includes Mantra Chanting which is done under the control of monks of Monastery.

Above Dhankar is a fresh water lake about 1.5 km from the village at a height of 13500 ft acting as the source of water supply for the village. Set amidst lush green pastures, the lake offers a perfect idyllic camping site but locals do not allow camping at the lake anymore.

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Kalka-Shimla Railway – Heritage Railways in the World

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The Kalka Shimla railway line is a great achievement of human ingenuity. The Kalka-Shimla Railway built to connect, the summer capital of India in 1903 at an altitude of 2213 meters. The Kalka Shimla Railway line is one of the most popular hill railways in India. The trains running on these tracks are popularly called ‘Toy Trains’.

This toy train journey starts from Kalka, a town in its neighboring state, Haryana and ends in the magnificent Shimla. The Kalka –Shimla Railway is a narrow gauge railway that covers a distance of 96km. This 96-kms long railway track is built over 889 short to long bridges and passes through 102 tunnels in the foothills of the Himalayas. This railway line offers steep rise in altitude in the space of 96 kilometers between Kalka station (656 mtrs) and Shimla station (2076 mtrs). The line has as many as 919 curves,the sharpest being 48 degrees.

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The train ride from Shimla to Kalka takes 5 to 6 hours at a leisurely pace of 25 km/h. This might seem slow to us today but in 1903 it was a vast improvement, as it took at least a couple of days to travel the same distance back then. The track has been active for all these years and proves that when the British build something they build it to last.

There are many stories related to this track including ghosts, suicides and giant snakes.

Colonel Barog and Tunnel 33

Barog Tunnel at 1144 meters is the longest tunnel on the route and appears just before the Barog Station. This tunnel was named after Mr.Barog, who started the digging of this tunnel, but only to commit a mistake. He started the digging of the tunnels from the both end simultaneously to only realized that these two ends were not aligned. The British government fined him INR 1 for wasting government time and money. Barog was upset by this humiliation and shot dead himself one day during the morning walk. Later the tunnel was completed by Chief Engineer H.S. Harrington with the help of local ascetic Bhalku. This tunnel is today’s Barog tunnel even though it is completely different from the failed tunnel of Colonel Barog. The small town of Barog owes its name to the same gentleman.

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The Ghost of Tunnel 103

Tunnel 103 is the last tunnel towards Shimla at the end of the line. It is believed to be haunted by a British gentleman’s ghost who likes chatting up individuals passing by the tunnel. Other ghosts, spirits and paranormal activities have also been observed near tunnel 103. Some talk about a woman wearing a black sari and carrying a malnourished baby.

Started in 1903, this 110 year old engineering marvel is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Darjeeling and Nilgiri Mountain Railways. This rail route features in the Guinness Book of World Records for offering the steepest rise in altitude in the space of 96 kilometers.

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#RIP Karan Singh – A Scion of the Kullu Royal Family

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Karan Singh MLA from Banjar in Kullu. Banjar is a town and a nagar panchayat in Kullu district. Banjar is also known as the valley of God. Banjar lies on the alternate route to Kullu from Shimla. He is associated with Indian National Congress. He is son of late Shri Mohinder Singh. He was born on 14th October, 1957 at Kullu. He is a graduate from Ferguson College, Pune, in the year 1978. He is married to Smt. Shivani Singh.

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Karan, hails from royal family of Kullu, is a three time MLA from Banjar. First elected in 1990 on BJP ticket, Karan won from this seat again in 1998 and was inducted as Minister of State for Primary Education in the BJP-HVC ministry headed by former chief minister P K Dhumal.

He left the BJP ahead of 2007 polls and contested unsuccessfully on BSP ticket. Later,He joined the Congress in the 2012 assembly election and was elected to Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha for third time.

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Karan Singh, was given the charge of ayurveda and cooperative departments. This is the second cabinet expansion the Congress government has carried out in over two-and-a-half years.

Karan Singh died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on 12 May 2017. He was suffering from lungs and liver ailment. Singh,  was younger brother of BJP former MP and Kullu MLA Maheshwar Singh and scion of erstwhile Kullu Royal Dynasty.

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Our hearts are saddened by your loss and our thoughts and prayers are with you. Words fall short of expressing my sorrow for your loss.  #RIP #KaranSingh