Tabo is dark and dusky when we arrive. The electricity is out, but the moonlight guides us to our homestay.
We are a group of offbeat adventurers exploring Spiti.
The little homestay that we are put up in is warm and comfortable. The happiness increases when we see the quaint little eating place in the premises that makes our smiles stretch from ear to ear.
In hushed whispers not believing what we saw written….”French Fries, really?…ooohhhh we are in heaven”
After eating a whole lot of parathas, rajmas and dals, this was like manna from heaven for us spoilt city brats.
There was also a whole list of Spitian and Tibetan food on the menu. So after a lengthy discussion we decided to sample almost every dish available.
We started off with the Herbal teas which were refreshing. The order was lengthy it would take some time to arrive.
I saw a guitar in the dining area, and picked it up to play and we started an impromptu session of singing and me pretending to play the guitar followed by rounds of loud laughter.
This is one of my favorite memories of the trip.
Finally dinner arrived and it was a feast. The food in this region is made from simple locally grown ingredients and is not spicy.
- Samthuk soup consists of cheese and veggies
- Potato and pasta soup
- Spinach and cheese stuffed in a crispy bread
- Spring rolls
- Local steamed bread
- Desert was Banana Fritters
Mornings begin as early as 5am in these parts as the locals prefer to start their day with prayers at the Tabo monastery.
The Tabo monastery was built in 996 AD and is a very important place of worship to the Buddhists.
Just around around the old monastery lies the new Tabo monastery which is a modern building.
The lives of the people here is centered around the monasteries, prayers, and looking after the monks.
We joined the monks in their early morning prayers in the new monastery.
The monks were chanting prayers and reading from old prayer leafs. Listening to the monks chant made us feel peaceful.
At the end of the prayer session we were offered butter tea by the friendly monks.
A little later I went to see the old monastery . The monastery is a simple mud brick structure with Stupas present within the monastery complex.
From the moment I stepped in I was transported to 996 AD. The place inside was dimly lit only by oil lamps, there were no electric lights.
The oil lamps glimmered and shone. The perfume from the incense sticks filled the air. A lady stood in front of a shrine praying.
I ventured further into the dimly lit rooms, almost dark which revealed a treasure of beautiful hand painted frescoes and wooden sculptures of Buddha and Indo Tibetan culture.
These masterpieces probably the work of monks need urgent restoration and care, which explained the absence of electric lights.
The silence and serenity inside engulfed me. The warm light of the lamps wrapped around me like a soft blanket. The energy around felt very peaceful. In my mind I visualized the monks thousands of years ago, treading around the monastery with a quite smile and going about their rituals.
After spending a few moments reflecting about the place and the history I stepped into bright sunshine.
Above the monastery there are a number of caves carved into the cliff face and used by monks for meditation.
It is an easy climb as there is a pathway made. My friend and me hiked up the mountain to explore the caves.
The caves were simple cut outs from the rock, not much to see.
However the view from the top was worth the hike. We could see sweeping views of the Tabo monastery, the village houses, fields and farms and the Spiti River.
Soon breakfast beckoned us and we were back at our homestay.
The main course ofcourse was French Fries, but we also had some local spiti bread, some porridge and pancakes made of millet/barley known as Sampak.
Breakfast done, we proceeded toward our next destination.
For the full story of my Spiti holiday read – JOURNEY TO THE MIDDLE LAND – SPITI