Main Destinations : Lamayuru Valley, Padum, Sani and Indus River
Location : Leh and Zanskar
Main Monasteries : Tiksey, Hemis, Sani, Strongdey and Lamayuru
Other Monasteries : Diskit, Spituk, Likir
|Tiksey Monastery :||Location
: About 20 km From Leh.
Altitude : 3600m Above Sea Level.
Founded By : Palden Sangpo.
Asset : One of the Largest Statue of Buddha.
Belongs To : Gelukpa Order.
Referred As : Most Beautiful Monastery In Ladakh.
|Hemis Monastery :||Location : 47 kms
Founded By : Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyats.
Asset : Gold and Silver Stupas, Sacred Thankas.
Belongs To : Dugpa Order.
Prime Attraction : The Annual Hemis Festival.
Referred As : Biggest and wealthiest monastery in Ladakh
|Sani Monastery :||Location : 6 km
West of Padum
Asset : Presence of The Kanishka Stupa.
Belongs To : Bardan.
Prime Attraction : The Annual Unveiling of The Bronze Statue of Naropa.
|Strongdey Monastery :||Location : 18 km
to the north of Padum.
Altitude : 3,500 m.
Belongs To : Gelukpa monks.
Prime Attraction : View of the valley from the top.
|Lamayuru Monastery :||Location : 127 km
west of Leh.
Asset : Beautiful Wall Paintings, Shrines And Thangkas.
Belongs To : Red-Hat Sect of Buddhism.
Prime Attraction : Singhe Ghang.
Ladakh is the hub of the Buddhist culture. Here you will
find a unique amalgamation of the Buddhist as well as the Tibetan culture.
It is home to some of the greatest monasteries in the world. There are
more than 100 monasteries in Ladakh, which is the domicile of the
religious Buddhist, who meditate, pray and live in these 'Gompas' or
'Monasteries'. The Lama, who is the head of the monastery, is also known
as the 'Kushak', which means reincarnation. The access to these
monasteries is possible only through trekking,as they are situated in the
far-flung areas of the Ladakhi region. The tour of these monasteries will
make you vigilant of the great impact this religion has on the locals.
Mahayana or the Hinayana sect of Buddhism, are the two
braod categories in which we can divide these monasteries. The enchanting
monasteries of Ladakh give flavour as well as colour to these desolate
areas of the state. Most of these Gompas are built on rickety rocks and
mountain slopes. Some of the world renowned monasteries are listed below.
About 20 km from Leh is a monastery which is situated
3600m above sea level, is the Tiksey monastery, the most famed gompa of
Ladakh. It is situated on the top of the hill and forms part of Gelukpa
order. Beside being the seat of the the main leader of the Gelug School in
Ladakh, Tiksey Rinpoche, it is the leading monastery for all the other
monasteries. Legends have it that this monastery was founded by Palden
Sangpo, who was the disciple of Sherab Sangpo, who too was the disciple
Tsongkhapa, the founder of the reformed Gelug School. Being the most
visited and the most beautiful monastery, it also houses the Champa, the
15 m tall statue of Buddha, which is one of the largest statue of Buddha.
It is the residence of around 100 monks and is the finest example of
On the west bank of the Indus river and around 47 kms
from Leh, stands the Hemis monastery. Discovered by the first incarnation
of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyats in the year 1630, this is the biggest and
most affluent monasteries in Ladakh. Belonging to the Dugpa Order, it is
concealed in a gorge. The main attraction of this monastery is the Hemis
festival, celebrated in the solemnization of Guru Padmasambhava, the
founder of Tantrik Buddhism in Tibet. During this festival, once in 12
years, the Thanka (sacred appliqué-work tapestry wrought with
pearls depicting Padmasambhava), of Guru Padmasambhava is displayed for
the local public. This monastery is in possession of various gold and
silver stupas and many sacred Thankas. The sacred mask dance is also
performed here, during the festive season. The cave of Kotsang, at 4200m,
founded by Gyalwa Kotsang is a sacred destination. The rocks and the
shrines found on the way to the cave, still bear his impressions.
Around 6 km west of Padum, inhabitates the village of
Sani, on the road to Kargil. Build in the facsimile of a castle, it the
major tourist attraction in Ladakh. Unlike any other monastery, it is
built on a ground surface. The presence of the Kanishka Stupa in the
backyard of this monastery, paves pay for the legend that this gompa
belongs to the time when the roots of Kanishka empire were being laid. In
the main building of the monastry, there is a multi-columned central
prayer hall, and has a wealthy collection of the statues of popular
Buddhist monks and also of the saints of Drugpa(old school). Intense
stucco frenzies adorn the chapel behind the main building. There is an old
cemetery encircled with some ancient rock carving with an Indian
influence. Naropa, known as the Indian Yogi of Vikramshila, is believed to
have sat under the Kanishka Stupa for the purpose of meditition. This site
has been preserved by constructing a room and placing the veiled bronze
statue of the Yogi inside. Two day festival is celebrated once in a year,
wherein this veiled is removed.
Lying 18 km to the north of Padum, is the second largest
monastery in Zanskar, Strongdey. At an attitude of 3,500 m, this monastery
associated with the Tibetan Yogi, Marpa. This whitewashed monastery has a
number of temples and is inhabited by 60 Gelukpa monks. It is a four hour
long walk to the monastery, which is quiet streneous, but however the view
of the valley from the top is worth all the pain and hard work. This
monastery is opened for tourists from the period of mid July to early
November. The June cllimate is ideal for trekking in t his area. Situated
on the 240 km long Kargil-Padum road, there is availability of buses and
jeeps that will take you to the monastery. Padum has several hotels that
provide furnished rooms, the likes of the Tourist Complex.
127 km west of Leh lies the Lamayuru Monastery, which is
associated with the legend of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), nags
(holy serpents), who resided in the lake present in the Lamayuru valley.
It is said that Bodhisattva Madhyantaka, anticipated that this lake will
drain out for the construction of a monastery. One more belief related to
this monastery is that, the cave in Dukhang, was used in the 11th century
by the Indian Buddhist Scholar Mahasiddhacharya Naropa, for meditation.
Draining of the lake due to the split in the surrounding hillsides, lead
to the discovery of a dead lion by Naropa, who converted the site into the
very first temple known as the Singhe Ghang or the Lion Mound. Incipiently
this monastery is believed to be comprise of five buildings, however only
one remains till date. This monastery is home to 150 monks, Belonging to
the Red-Hat sect of Buddhism. Beautiful wall paintings, shrines and
Thangkas are its prized possession. The two masked dances performances
during the 2nd and the 5th month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar is perhaps
the main attraction of this Gompa. Some monasteries welcome guest out of
goodwill, however they are expected to make some contributions for the
welfare of the monastery.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Ladakh Monasteries
The Home of Divinity
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Safari to Ladakh
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