Kee Gompa

Kee Gompa

Also known as Ki, Key, Kye monastery, the Kee Gompa is located at an altitude of 4,166 metres above sea level and is very close to the Spiti River in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh in India.The Key Monastery is a famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Lahaul and Spiti District of India. It is believed to have been founded by Dromton, who was a student of the famous teacher Atisha in the 11th century. It enshrines Buddha idols in the Dhyana position and has a collection of ancient books and murals. The stunning Key Monastery is over a thousand years old and is also the largest monastery to be found in the entire Spiti Valley.


The Key Monastery is believed to have been found by Dromton, who was a pupil of Atisha, at some time in the 11th century. The monastery has been attacked and damaged multiple times in its long history. Moreover, the monastery was sacked yet again in 1830 during the war between Ladakh and Kulu. In 1841, the monastery was severely damaged by the Dogra army under the rule of Ghulam Khan and Rahim Khan. In the same year, it was destroyed due to the attacks of a Sikh regiment. Disaster struck the monastery yet again when the structure was damaged by a fire in the 1840s, and further damage was caused in 1975 when a massive earthquake occurred. The Archaeological Survey of India and the State Public Works Department then worked to repair and restore this historic structure.


As a result of the repeated attacks and calamities, whether natural or man-made that Key Monastery had to suffer, the primary structure was built and rebuilt time and again. The constant renovation has led to the monastery now becoming an irregular box-like structure, which looks more like a defensive fort than a calm and quite monastery per se. It is nevertheless a brilliant example of the monastic architecture that started to gain popularity in the 14th century because of the influence of China. The walls of the Key Monastery are adorned with beautiful murals and paintings. The temples in the compound are all built on top of one another, and the building is marked by narrow corridors that lead to low rooms. The monastery has three floors in all. The first floor, which is used for storage, is mostly underground. The ground floor of the monastery houses the Assembly Hall which is beautifully decorated and also has cells that have been constructed especially for the monks.


  • The Cham Festival – The Cham Festival is a part of the sects of the Tibetan Buddhism and comprises of the Cham Dance, which is a lively masked and costumed dance. The festival celebrates the eminent Indian monk, Padmasambhava, who was invited by the Tibetan King to teach Buddhism in Tibet.
  • Collections at Kee Monastery – The Key Monastery houses an extensive collection of treasures. Be it the valuable manuscripts, Thangkas, beautiful murals, stucco images or peculiar wind instruments, the monastery harbours all of it within. Apart from all the valuable things listed, the monastery also keeps a collection of weapons in order to defend the monastery from the barbarian attacks of the invaders.
  • Prayer Wheels – Prayer wheels (or also known as Mani Wheels by the Tibetans) are always spun clockwise so that the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” written on the wheels passes the viewer in the order it is meant to be chanted.
  • Butter Tea – Butter tea, also known as Po cha in Tibet, is made from churning tea, salt, and yak butter.The butter tea of the Monastery is a must try.
  • Library on the top floor – The library on the top floor of the Monastery houses a number of ancient murals and manuscripts
  • It is recommended to take a bus or hire a private taxi from Manali to Kaza as driving can be dangerous.
  • Tourists are advised to carry enough cash as digital payment won’t work here in the mountains.
  • If you want to avail accommodation at the Key Gompa, then you need to inform in advance. The charges for a night are INR 250 which is inclusive of food.
  • Do not forget to try the refreshing herbal butter tea at the monastery which enhances the circulation of oxygen in the body.
  • It is advised to pack your warmest clothes and wear sturdy shoes.
  • Kibber Village – Kibber is the highest motorable village which is worth visiting. Situated amidst beautiful mountains and rugged landscapes, the village is quite famous for Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary and the local Kibber Monastery.
  • Spiti Valley – The Spiti Valley is popularly known as Little Tibet. The main town of Spiti Valley is Kaza which is 14 km from Key Monastery. While entering Spiti from Lahaul, visitors get captivated by the Kunzum Pass and Chandratal Lake. A paradise for trekkers and adventure seekers, Spiti offers many challenging and breathtaking treks through unexplored and dream-like routes, surrounded by picturesque mountains and landscapes.
  • Kunzum Pass – A haven for photographers, the Kunzum Pass is one of the highest motorable mountain passes of India, located at an altitude of 4,551 meters. Witness the stunning 360-degree view of Bara-Shigri Glacier and a jaw-dropping view of the Spiti Valley from Kunzum Pass.
  • Chandratal Lake – One of the most beautiful lakes in the mighty Himalayas, Chandratal Lake is a 15 km trek from Kunzum Pass. The crescent-shaped lake is every camper’s and trekker’s dream due to its pristine location and captivating views.

The best time to visit this beautiful monastery is from the mid of June to the beginning of September except monsoon month of August. The climate is mostly chilly at Kee Monastery due to its location at a high altitude; however, it is pleasant during these months.


You can first reach Kaza from Manali, or other nearby areas, and then board a daily bus to reach the monastery. It is advised to keep in mind that all the buses that take you up to Kaza terminate at that point. From Kaza, you will have to hire your own private vehicle to reach the Kee Gompa. Cars are not allowed beyond a point. Reaching the monastery involves a steep climb from the car parking which is not suitable for elderly people and small kids.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Where is Kee Monastery located?

The Kee Monastery is located in the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

What is the best time to visit the Kee Monastery?

The best time to visit the Kee Monastery is between the months of June and September.

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