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 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.
The Kee Monastery is located in the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh.
The best time to visit the Kee Monastery is between the months of June and September.