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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Moorang Fort – Ancient Fort in Kinnaur

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The picturesque village of Moorang, which is located in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, is a gorgeous place for a holiday. It is situated above the left bank of Satluj and about 39 kms from the most important village of Kalpa.Beauty of Moorang is generally defined by the spectacular apricot orchard and million other spectacular things. One can simply relax on the old fort built by the Pandavas on the banks of the Satluj river as the cool breeze caress the soul or head to Lipa- Asrang sanctuary which is spread across 40 Km of area inhabiting Brown bear, Musk deer, Himalayan black beer and many more.

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Moorang Fort

This fort is very mysterious and attractive because of its location. It is believed that the fort was built by Pandavas. Is situated on the left bank of the Satluj on a high hillock and very near to the Morang village.  The wooden extending beams and wooden pillars of the Verandah of the top floor indicate that there was another floor at the top and now it is totally broken. The entrance door and the doorframes have a few wood carvings.

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The local deity is Urmig and there are three structures dedicated to the deity each existing in Thwaring, Garmang and Shilling. Generally these are empty as the ark of the deity remains in the fort. On a sacred day the ark is taken to the above named places. The ark has got 18 ‘mukh’, made of silver, gold and brass. The 18 mukh represents the 18 days of the great epic Mahabharat.

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Moorang sets itself apart from all the other villages and towns of Kinnaur. People out here are very friendly and helpful, simple and innocent. They are very hospitable and welcoming. Their basic lifestyle, free from the bondages of modernization is simple yet fulfilling.

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