Tabo monastery/nunnery, (in) Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, IN

Raw data

Tabo Monastery was the earliest, largest and most important of the "second wave" of Buddhism in the far northern valleys of of India. It was established in 996 AD and located on the Spiti River (which is a tributary of the Sutlej). 32.2 N. x 78.23 E. The monastery was founded by a monk who made regular visits to Eastern India and Kashmir. Excavations have located seven monasteries down the Sutlej from Tabo.
Important material on contacts between this area and Bihar are in Laxman S. Thakur, Buddhism in the Western Himalayas: A Study of Tabo Monastery (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001). Another historian adds the names of 25 monasteries located in the Spiti Valley, all of them post-1200 AD. Ahir, 124-25.
Src: India
Input by: SG Jan 21 2009

"Tabo is a small town in the Lahul and Spiti district on the banks of the Spiti River in Himachal Pradesh, India.",_Himachal_Pradesh

""Ajanta of the Himalayas", as the Tabo Chos-Khor Monastery is popularly known, was founded more than a millennium back in 996 A.D., The Year of the Fire Ape by the Tibetan Calendar.
It stands on the barren, arid, snow covered, cold and rocky desert of the Tabo valley at a dizzying height of 3050 m. Untouched by the tribulations of humanity, a heaven in its own sense, it has preserved the glorious heritage, traditions and culture of Buddhism through the passage of centuries, withholding its institution with utter purity.
The Tabo Gompa, or Buddhist monastery, is second in importance only to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet in the entire Himalayan region. It was developed as an advanced centre for learning by the great teacher and translator Lotsawa Rinchen Tsang Po, the king of western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge — also known as Lha Lama Yeshe O'd or Mahaguru Ratnabhadra. The Chos-Khor at Tabo remained one of the most important Buddhist establishments during the time of Lotsawa after the Chos-Khor at Tholing, the capital town of Guge. It is known that the Chos-Khor at Tabo commanded great importance, and hosted for a considerable period, many great scholars and translators in the Buddhist history studies. To date, it is the preserver of the Buddhist Legacy and is one of the most important Gompa of the entire Tibetan Buddhist world.
The Tabo Monastery located on desolate, flat ground with an area of 6300 sq m, enclosed by a high boundary wall built with mud brick. During 1981-83, a new Du-khang (assembly hall) was built on the south -east of Chos-Khor for the Kalachakra teachings (a process of initiation and rejuvenation) from His Holiness the XIV th Dalai Lama of Tibet in 1983 and 1996. Venerable Geshe Sonam Wangduai, the abbot of the monastery and patron Serkong Tsanshap Chhogtul Rinpoche have the coveted distinction of being responsible for extensive developmental work at Tabo and re-introduction of religio- spiritual and academic activities.
The monastery temples house a priceless collection of manuscripts and thangkas (Buddhist scroll paintings), historical, exquisite statues in stuccos, frescos and murals depicting tales from the Mahayana Buddhist Pantheon. Every inch of wall is covered with fine paintings in astonishingly well preserved condition.
Nearly 36 almost life-size clay statues perch on the walls of the assembly hall. On the sheer cliff face above the monastic enclave are a series of caves which were used as dwelling units by the monks. Here again, dim traces of the paintings that once adorned the rock face are visible. Hence the name "Ajanta of the Himalayas". The temple complex is a national historic treasure of India and protected as such by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Not much has changed since 996 AD at the Tabo Monastery. The lamas still perform tantric rites in the temples. They perform most of their morning 'poojas', and also live in the 'new' temple. Chanting starts at 6 a.m. sharp. The monastery complex holds 9 temples, 23 chortens, a monk's chamber and an extension that houses the nuns chamber."

"Tabo Monastery : 3,050 metres ) It is 47 km. from Kaza. At the right of Spiti river, is an ancient village named Tabo, flanked on either side by lofty brown hills and sun burnt, is the seat of one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries - Sherlang, Duang, Chamba, Chibbo, Domlang Gompas, regarded by many as only next to the Thelong Gompa in Tibet. The 10th Century Tabo monastery houses more than 60 lamas. Large number of scriptures and pieces of art, wall paintings - 'Tankhas' and 'Stucco'. Tabo has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In terms of area, this is the largest monastic complex in Spiti, and the old section has 9 temples, 23 chortens, a monk's chamber and a nun's chamber. There are several caves and contemporary structures that form a part of the Tabo complex. Founded in 996 A.D., the Tabo 'gompa' has exquisite wall paintings and stucco statues - and is often called the 'Ajanta of the Himalaya'."
Input by: tmciolek Apr 17 2009

"(Lochen) Rinchen Zangpo (958–1055), […] is said to have built over one hundred monasteries in Western Tibet, including the famous Tabo Monastery in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh,[3] and Poo in Kinnaur.[4]"
Input by: tmciolek Dec 17 2012

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 17 Dec 2012

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 2 km from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Tabo monastery/nunnery, IN.

General location of the Tabo monastery/nunnery, IN.
lat=32.0833 long=78.3833
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2009.

Google Map link:,%20IN)&ll=32.0833,78.3833&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Tabo monastery/nunnery

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • India:State of Himachal Pradesh

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • [missing data]

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

  • [missing data]

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Vajrayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • MBM chrono-tag: 0967-99c - tmciolek 14 Dec 2012
  • 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • MBM chrono-tag: 1200=> - tmciolek 14 Dec 2012

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • [missing data]

16. Additional notes

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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