Vagabond in Spiti : Kee Gompa
Kee (Key, Kye or Ki) monastery or gompa commands one of the most iconic views associated with Spiti valley. It is considered to be the biggest monastery in Spiti valley. It is one of the highlights for anybody and must-visit place for any adventurer or tourist coming to Kaza. Kee gompa is one of the top monasteries in the region which include Tabo, Nako, Dhankar and Kungri (in the Pin valley) to name a few.
Kee monastery is ahead of Kaza. Once you move pass the Kaza town along the spiti river, after couple of kilometres or so comes a diversion. There is a bridge across the river that takes to Loser and Kunjom pass. Loser is 56 kms from this point and Kunjom top is 78 kms.
One has to move ahead on the right side of the river towards Kibber and Kee. The view is spectacular and the road slowly drifts away from the river and climbs towards the mountains.
Once you reach the Kee (Kye) village than you get the first view of the monastery overlooking the village, perched on a small cliff.
Moving ahead, there is another diversion, one on the left leads to Kibber village and on the right is Kee gompa. The view keeps on getting amazing- of the gompa as well as the Spiti valley below. The road to Kee from Kaza is generally good in condition, may be because of the high tourist value of the monastery.
The monastery of Tibetan Buddhism is located at an altitude of 4166 metres above the sea level. The monastery is more than thousand years old founded in 11th century. Despite being in such a tough terrain, this monastery along with other monasteries of the region has a history of attacks by the invaders and clashes among the different buddhist sects. Walls of the monastery are covered with paintings and murals developed in Chinese influence. It also houses a wide collections of ancient murals, manuscripts, and images. Monastery now belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism.
This monastery celebrated its millennium in 2000 when a new prayer hall was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama. Besides this new prayer hall, there are four old prayer halls in the monastery. The monastery is so big that it can house around 450 lamas. Normally close to 150 lamas will always stay in the monastery. Even nuns stay here. The main monastery has three floors. Then there are different complexes for monks to stay, study and other activities. It is a big teaching centre for lamas. There is also a cafeteria for the tourists.
Vehicles can be parked right at the entrance of the monastery. One has to keep sufficient time to move around, view the complex and enjoy the mesmerising landscape. Monastery holds its yearly festival normally in July every year. The monastery has already found its way into bollywood movies (Highway).
Kee Gompa also has facility for travellers to stay in lama quarters at a very nominal charge (around 200 Rs along with meals). That’s thoroughly enjoying and engaging. Gives a first-hand experience of the lives of the monks here. Worth it, but then you need to have some time in hand.