From Kalpa, we rode a bus going to Rekong Peo or locally known as Peo where the main bus terminal going around Himachal Pradesh can be found. After obtaining an Inner Line Permit from the tourism office in Peo at around 11 am, we went directly to the bus station to get a bus going to Tabo. Unfortunately, the ticket seller told us that there’s only 1 bus everyday going to Tabo and it leave at 6 in the morning. We left with no choice but to stay for a night in Peo. Since they don’t accept ticket reservation and strictly follow first come first serve basis in selling ticket, we decided to get a room for INR300 in a guesthouse just in front of the bus station so we can secure tickets as early as we can since there’s nothing much to do in Rekong Peo. Next morning, we woke up at 4:30 am and went directly to the ticket counter. Surprisingly, as early as that, we were greeted by a long line of local passengers waiting for the ticket booth to open.
While waiting in line, I told my friend that I have a feeling that we would not be able to get seats and have to stay for another night in Peo due to the numbers of people ahead of us. Trying our luck, we still waited in line assuming that some of them were going to some other parts of Himachal Pradesh and not in Tabo. When they started selling ticket, we were not able to get seats for that morning trip. We just went back to the guesthouse and told the owner that we will stay for one more night. The owner asked us why we return back and after we explained everything to him, he promised that he will be able to secure tickets for us on the following morning. I asked him how if they don’t allow ticket reservation. The owner just said “don’t worry” and smiled to us.
The next day, we forced ourselves to wake up at 3 am and went to the bus station. Most passengers were still sleeping on the floor while others were drinking chai (tea). This time, I was the first in line. Waiting for more than 2 hours in line, I was shocked when the ticket seller opened the window because the guy issuing the bus ticket for that day is the owner of the guesthouse where we stayed. Yes! The guy we’re talking to the day before that… After exchanging “good morning!” he gave me our tickets and told me to “enjoy the journey”. After thanking him, I quickly say goodbye to him and run to my friend while laughing. My friend asked me why and told him who sold me the tickets, After a few moment of silence, we just keep on laughing about it.
Tabo is the first village in Spiti coming from the Kinnaur side. It is a small village located on the left bank of Spiti river in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. Situated on one side of the Great Himalaya range separating India and Tibet, the entry to the village is flanked by the Spiti River and the epic Trans-Himalayan range at a height of 10,760 feet above sea-level. This range is referred to as the Buddhist circuit.
As we enter the village, I noticed the massive concrete heli-pad where the local villagers were playing cricket. A local told me that helicopters land there only in winter for the food supply of the whole village. They also used it as a recreation spot by the villagers who gather in the cold evenings and share hot cup of tea.
Most inhabitants of Tabo are Tibetan and Nepali who speak Hindi, Bodi and Tibetan. Apple plantation is the main livelihood of the villagers and some work at the irrigation plant in the village. Water to the plant comes from the Spiti River and is supplied through canals to the apple plantations.
View from our room
View of the town from the hill
Flanked on either side by hills, Tabo houses one of the most important Buddhist monasteries, the Tabo Gompa or Monastery that is considered by many as only next to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet. This monastery is said to be over a thousand years old, founded back in 996 A.D.
We went to visit the monastery at around 5:00 PM on the same day that we arrived, but it was too late for the day. The temples and assembly hall of monastery get closed by 5:30 PM every day. But the monastery complex remains open, so we just shoot some pictures in the complex which you can see on my post about The Ancient Tabo Monastery. A Lama, Tibetan monk locking the temples door approached me and told me that the temples and assembly hall will be open by 5:00 AM in the next morning.
On the Northern side, just opposite the village and next to the main road, there is a rising hill containing caves visible from the village.These caves are easily accessible by 15-20 minutes of gradual ascent on the hills. These caves were carved out in the hills long time ago for the purpose of meditation by lamas. It is believed to be used as dwelling place of the Lamas during winters of the Himalayas. One big cave which was originally used as an assembly hall by the lamas was guarded by the local villagers. According to the very kind old man guarding the big cave, the lamas from Tabo Monastery are still using these caves and the presence of prayer flags signifies that they still use it for meditation purposes.
Entrance to the big cave
Inside the big cave
The atmosphere in Tabo is very relax and serene. The locals are very nice and hospitable. I really love this place and consider it as one of my favorite place in Himachal Pradesh. There are rumors that Tabo is where the Dalai Lama hopes to die and reincarnated, as it is the place that most reminds him of his native land Tibet.