The Tabo Monastery or Gompa is located in the village of Tabo, in the secluded Spiti Valley of the state Himachal Pradesh in India. The village is at an altitude of 3,280 meters. It is bounded by Tibet and the Kinnaur district in the east, Ladakh in the north, Lahaul in the west and Kullu district in the south-east. The region was included within the boundaries of Tibet in the past.
Locally known as Chos-Khor and also known as Ajanta of the Himalayas, the Tabo Monastery was founded in 996AD. At first glance this monastery seems nothing more than a cluster of large mud huts surrounded by a brick wall boundary. The monastery is standing on a flat piece of land with an area of 6300 sq. m. surrounded by high mountains in the barren, arid, snow covered, cold and rocky desert of the Spiti Valley. It is basically a complex that houses a number of small gompas, temples and monasteries surrounded by hills.
With its original decoration and art images intact, it is considered to be the oldest continuously functioning Buddhist monastery in India and the Himalayas. The monastery houses many Buddhist scriptures and documents, along with amazing Buddhist statues and paintings. Every inch of wall inside the assembly hall is covered with fine paintings in well preserved collection. There are many clay statues attached on the wall of assembly hall and believed to be as old as the monastery. Due to the many important scriptures it houses, the Tabo Monastery is considered a national historic treasure of the country and is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Within the complex are temples and stupas built between the late 10th and the 17th century. Some of the temples are the Ser-Khang (The Golden Temple), Tug-Lha-Khang (The Temple of the Enlightened Gods), Brom-ston Lha Khang (The Temple of Dromton and Dkyil-Khor-Khang (The Mystic Mandala Temple) to name a few.
The unique beauty of its art and its historical role in spreading the Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and culture in the 10th and 11th century makes Tabo Monastery an historically significant site. In fact, Its significance is second only to the Tholing Gompa in Tibet in the entire Himalayan region.
Above the monastery there are a number of caves carved into the cliff face and used by monks for meditation.