Key Monastery, Spiti

The biggest centre of Buddhist learning in Spiti Valley & it is over 1000-year-old. Signup for full VR Experience. Book a holiday package to Key Monastery, Spiti.

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Key Monastery, Spiti

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Key Monastery, Spiti

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Location

Key, Himachal Pradesh 172114

Info

Key Monastery is the biggest centre of Buddhist learning in Spiti Valley, & is over 1000-year-old. It is the oldest training centre for Lamas. It is located at a height of 13,668 feet above mean sea level in Lahaul Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh in north India. The culture of this monestery, like the rest of Spiti, closely resembles that of Tibet and also know as Little Tibet.

SPATIAL ORGANISATION & LAYOUT

Repeated attacks by Mongols on the monastery resulted in frequent renovation and reconstruction work which in turn has given rise to irregular box like structure. So the monastery looks like a fort, with temples built on top of one another. The walls of the monastery are covered with paintings and murals.

It is an outstanding example of the 14th century monastic architecture, which developed as the result of the Chinese influence. The high altitude & geographical location results in high wind velocities & cold winters. Hence orientation & shape of buildings is also dependent on the prevailing wind directions. Each building box face the south sun and are staggered such that each of them get their share of solar heat to keep warm.

ARCHITECTURE

The monastery is famous for its architecture called Pasada style.  Pasada style is characterised by two or more stories and often plays the role of a fort-monastery.The monastery is spread over three floors – underground, ground and first floor. Underground is mainly utilized for storage; ground floor is used as assembly hall, called Du-Khang. The ground floor also has small rooms for monks. They are decorated with many holy or auspicious subjects such as lotuses, stupas, Dharma Wheels, inverted bells, prayer flags and animals.

The outsides are painted in bright red, yellow and white. This then makes the internal halls quite dark and  allows beams of sunlight from the upper windows to be used to focus on and highlight the faces of the statues. This makes the statues seem more sublime.

Golden Roof is a unique feature of Tibetan monastery. Every part is well-painted.  Murals, using the five colors significant in Buddhism, are very common on the walls. These colors and their symbolic significance are red--fire, yellow--earth, blue--sky, white--cloud and green--water.

An interesting use of the locally available materials is the use of moss. Moss is kind of bush that grows in the form of mats and is water resistant. Thus to cope up with the harsh winters, the Spiti houses are provided with moss insulation from the outside.

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