Also known as the Golden Temple, Lhalung Monastery is situated in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. It also holds the distinction of being one of the earliest monasteries to be founded in Himachal Pradesh. The temple was founded by the great Rinchen Zangpo, who ruled the western Himalayan kingdoms of Zanskar, Guge, Spiti and Kinnaur during the late tenth century.
The temple is believed to have been constructed overnight by the gods after Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo planted a willow tree here, promising that if it lived through the year, a temple would be built next to it. The tree still stands outside the Gompa to this day.
The area was formerly a complex of nine shrines enclosed within a dilapidated wall with the main chapel richly decorated. The monastery is considered an ancient centre of learning and debate.
The name Lhalung literally means ‘land of the gods’, lha meaning deities and lung meaning land. It is believed that the deity Lhalung is the head of all the deities of the valley and emerges from the Tangmar Mountain beyond the village. Legend has it, that the mountain changes color from time to time, in conformity with the god’s mood; for example, red for anger or yellow for joy.
The monastery is also known as Golden Temple because of various gold leaf deities kept in its shrine. The shrine is known as Serkhang and it is an exquisite chamber with beautifully adorned walls of studded images of more than 50 deities. Lhalung Monastery was modeled along the lines of the Tabo monastery as a place of learning.
There is a dark passage around the temple meant for circumambulation of the inner sanctum. The passage walls were previously decorated with beautiful paintings which have withered with time. Outside the shrine, stands the lang-carpo (White temple), upon which four stucco images of Buddha are displayed in the four cardinal directions. The statues are known to be as old as the monastery.
Tourists who travel from Manali towards Spiti also choose to visit Lossar, which is the first inhabited village. The design of its houses, vegetation and scenic splendour gives the village a picturesque look. It also consists of a small gompa and guest houses. Chandrataal and other treks start from Lossar.
Lhalung Monastery does not offer any accommodations. Government as well as private guest houses; are available at Kaza, Tabo, Losar, Samd, Poh and Spiti. Moreover, home stays are also available in several villages which provide good budget accommodations. Home stay facilities are available in Langza, Komic, Demul, Lhalung, Dhankar and Mikkim.
The monastery does not serve food. There are some restaurants run by locals in Spiti which specialize in Tibetan food and local dishes.
Best time to visit Lhalung Monastery is from March to October.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SPITI
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Spiti is as given below. The best time to visit Spiti is also specified.