Tabo (Ta po), a medium-size village (population 540, altitude 3280 metres) in the lower Spiti valley, is famous for its monastery. The monastic complex is situated on the plain in front of the village. The large old monastery contains nine temples from various periods within the old sacred enclosure. New temples and living buildings have recently been added to the east of the old complex.

Of the nine temples within the old sacred enclosure the Main Temple (gTsug-lag-khang) is attributable to the late 10th century, while the other temples in their present state of preservation range from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Although some earlier remains, such as carved wooden door-frames or the stone bases for pillars, are preserved in the other monuments as well, these most likely represent cases of reusage.

Tabo was the first monastery in the western Himalayas to become the focus of extensive scholarly research, several reports about Tabo monastery and particularly its oldest temple, the Main Temple, having been published as early as 1935 (G. Tucci). However, only in recent years has it again been possible for non-Indians to resume research there. A detailed study of the monastery was possible thanks to permission from the Archaeological Survey of India (A.S.I.) but above all to the helpful and understanding attitude of the abbot and monks of Tabo.

  • Tucci, Giuseppe (1988) The Temples of Western Tibet and their Artistic Symbolism. Indo-Tibetica III.1: The Monasteries of Spiti and Kunavar. Shata-Pitaka Series, Vol. 350, edited by Lokesh Chandra. New Delhi, Aditya Prakashan.