Kardang hamlet, located on the left bank of the Bhaga River, was originally the capital of Lahaul and is home to the largest monastery in the region. It is supposed to have been founded some 900 years ago but remained in ruins until 1912, when a lama restored it.
This gompa is picturesquely set against the backdrop of the barren mountains of the Rangcha massif, which rises above the valley to give it a breathtaking atmosphere. Sakyamuni is in the centre of the main temple, Padmasambhava is on the right, and Vajradhara is on the left. This monastery is home to the most lamas and chomos (female monks). Kardang Gompa’s library is extensive, with entire Kangyur and Tangyur (sacred Buddhist texts).
The gompa’s walls are adorned with colourful wall paintings known as frescoes. The monastery is run by the Drukpa Kagyu (Red Hat) order. It has a massive prayer wheel that includes a million strips of paper carrying the chant Om Mani Padme Hum (‘hail to the gem in the lotus’).
There is another tiny monastery near Kardang village called Jabjesh Monastery, and outside the gompa, you can find rock sculptures and two large chortens. There is a road close to Tandi Bridge that leads directly to the monastery.