Solo Backpack Trip to Spiti Valley – Day in Key Monastery & Kibber

key monastery

It was my 7th Day on Solo Backpack trip which was no more solo after meeting these guys. In continuation to the last story when we reached to Kaza, Nitin had a booking in Hotel Deyzor. We checked in together and were flattered with its ambiance. I must say it is the most amazing hotel in Kaza. Karan is the fabulous host and traveler like us who owns this hotel. This is the only place in Spiti Valley where I got WIFI after 7 Days. Still, there was no sign of any network signal except BSNL which I didn’t have. 7 people group split into three teams as we had a different booking. It was a plan to stay for 2 days in Kaza and explore all the nearby places especially Key Monastery.

We wanted to visit Key Monastery, Kibber, Komic, Langza, and Dhankar. We got to know that there is only Bus which goes to Kibber but then you cannot visit Key Monastery as it is on the way and bus doesn’t stop there. As we were 4 people, so we decided to book a taxi which will cover all these four places in a day and we will have enough time to explore all the villages. I am glad we took that decision. This is the story of Key Monastery & Kibber Village, Hope you will enjoy it.

Key Monestry

We started at 8 AM in the morning from Kaza towards Key Monastery. It is 15 km from the main town which takes 30 min by car. Key Monastery (also called as Ki, Kee or Key Gompa) which is biggest in entire Spiti valley. It is located on top of a hill at an altitude of 4,166 meters. If you have seen Paap movie, I hope you will recall it. Half of the movie has been shot here and in Kibber village. This monastery has been built in 11 century and near about 280 monk’s lives here in the current situation. It has been attacked by many rulers and destroyed it in these thousands year but it stands still there as a main religious training center of Lamas.

key monastery

It’s a closer look of Key Monastery. You will be surprised to know that a 10-year-old boy is the head of this monastery named as Rinchen Namgyal. They believe that he is the reincarnation of a renowned Buddhist monk Kachen Dugyal.

key monastery post box

It took 30 min for us to reach to the main gate. I was surprised to see a post box inside a monastery. Was wondering who will come here and collect the letters?

key monastery

As we enter inside the monastery a Lama received us and told that he will take us on monastery tour. Photography was not allowed inside the monastery but I requested him by saying I am a writer and working on a documentary. Surprisingly he grants us the permission for photographs. I don’t remember the name of Lama but he was well versed with Hindi & English. He told us the history and many aspects of Buddhism which they teach here.

inside key monastery

I still remember, as a doctor my Mom & Dad always used to suggest us to use copper pots to drink water. I was surprised to see that in the monastery all monks only use copper pots for cooking purpose. Others were busy in understanding the history and I was busy in getting shots of some unseen things.

inside key monastery

Have you ever seen copper tea filter?? Honestly speaking I have never seen that but what I saw blew my mind. It must be too old.

inside key monastery

Next, to the Lamaji where he was busy in explaining a history of the monastery, I saw these two beautiful colored Tea pots and Shudh Desi Ghee Diyas. He offered us a green herbal tea which was delight for my all senses and I remember we all asked for the second cup after the first sip of it.

key monastery roof view

In half an hour he had shown us all the prayer and study rooms. We were lucky to see the bedroom of Dalai Lama where he stayed while his visit to this monastery. He took us to the terrace to experience the breath taking a view of the whole valley.

key monastery roof view

It was amazing to see the shadows of clouds on deserted hills and snow on the top of it. This place is a paradise for photographers.

key monastery roof view

You must be wondering why they have evil face structure on top of the monastery…yah I know because I also had the same question.  Ok, say me thanks later for this, because they believe where a monk lives there is always possibilities of attack of evils to disturb their holiness as this monastery has been attacked a number of times. So to keep this evil anti- Buddhist demon away they put these statues.

key monastery roof view

At one end they have statues to stop evils and another end they have a statue to welcome gods.

key monastery entry gate

We almost spent two hours in the key monastery and it was an amazing experience to visit this place. Next destination was Village Kibber.

kibber village

Kibber is just 7 km from Key Monastery and took 30 min for us to reach there. It is situated at 4270 meters from sea level. You will be surprised to know that this village is constructed on a limestone rock. While leaving from monastery we got to know that people are celebrating in Kibber village as some senior Lama’s visiting the village and probably we will get a chance experience their cultural event. This is what we were waiting for.

kibber village entrance

One thing which I noticed while traveling in Spiti Vally that every village has a temple at the entrance. Kibber village has only 80 houses and around 7o families.

kibber village home

One thing is common in Kibber village that is White color walls, Blue, Red color door, and windows. Rarely you will see cement concrete home in this range.

kibber temple

As we enter, the entire village was looking like abandon place as we didn’t see a single human being. Then we got to know that all people went to the temple which is the highest point of the village. I remember how tough it was to reach there because of the steepest road. This is the Kibber temple which is founded by Serkang Rimpochhe of Tabo.

kibber village temple

As we reached monastery we were amazed to see the entire village was gathered for welcoming the guest lamas. Ladies from the village was cooking local food and Prasad outside. All kids and men’s were enjoying outside the monastery.

kibber village culture

As per village tradition they welcome all guests by serving milk on hand.

kibber village tradition

This lady is a wife of village head as you can easily find that out from her costume. Kibber village population ratio of male & female is near about 50-50%. I was totally impressed with their traditional costume. It was beautifully crafted with colored stones and silver jewelry.

kibber village culture

They were using this pot for serving hot water to drink and for other purposes.

kibber tradition

After having beautiful Prasada we went inside the monastery.  Photography was strictly prohibited inside the monastery. But while roaming around saw these old villagers were chatting and enjoying their afternoon outside. I loved their hat. It’s so amazing.

kibber temple

This is the way to heaven from secret place of monastery

kibber village temple

And here is the monk coming back from heaven to a secret place.

kibber village monks

The monk who just got new goggles.

kibber village

The most interesting part of this village visit was experiencing the Yak Meat. Thank you Gareeshma for that experience. I have no clue how you got that ?? I can still remember that feeling of chewing a tyre by my teeth.

Here is my Itinerary for Solo Backpack Trip to Spiti Valley

Published by

Atul Khandar

From Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand to the mighty Himalayan Range, from the Glaciers of Gangotri to standing at 18,500 ft face to face with the revered Sagarmatha, I have travelled the length and breadth of the mountains exploring them on foot. But I am not finished yet, there is still much to see and experience. Photographer | Avid hiker | Budding Film Maker | Entrepreneur

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