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Photographer's Note

Dhankar Gompa (Monastery) in Spiti - The setting of the monastery in Dhankar is nothing short of spectacular, located at height of apprx. 12,774 feet (above the sea level) near the confluence of Spiti and Pin rivers , above Shichilling village. – one of the world’s most spectacular settings for a gompa. The monastery belongs to Gelug-pa School of order.

Dhan means cliff, and kar means fort, hence Dhankar means "fort on a cliff". And this is the uniqueness of this monastery. It appears to be perched on a razor’s edge on the left bank of Spiti River. It virtually appears to be hanging in the air giving an impression to the onlooker that it will fall very soon. In 2006, World Monuments Fund selected Dhankar gompa as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. A nonprofit group, Dhankar Initiative, is attempting to organize its conservation.

The monastic complex is built on a 1,000-foot (300-metre) high clay spur overlooking the confluence of the Spiti and Pin Rivers. Set against an astral landscape of crumbling cliffs, the Lha-'od-pai-dgon-pa dates back to the 12th century. This old complex comprises a number of multi storeyed buildings perched together and has five different halls Kanjur, Lhakhang and Dukhang. The houses of the monasteries fit in to the nooks and crannies of the cliff.

I took this picture from the topmost level of the Monastery looking down at the valley carved by River Spiti below. I wanted to provide the viewer the feeling of Flight. With the snowfall on the other side of the river (& hence the greyness), it was quite a surreal experience, as on this side of the river, the sun still managed to shine though.

Dhankar was indeed one of those places where we lost the sense of space and time! I felt light enough (figuritively & spiritually) to fly down the slopes along the rivulets of River Spiti. I wished I could take...

A flight of fancy on a windswept field
Standing alone my senses reeled
A fatal attraction is holding me fast,
How can I escape this irresistible grasp?

Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I


"Learning to Fly by Pink Floyd"

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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