MONASTERIES & MONUMENTS

MONASTERIES & MONUMENTS

The most attractive feature of the landscape of Ladakh is the Buddhist monasteries situated on the isolated hillock in the vicinity of villages. Monasteries have a wealth of artefacts, Lamayuru, the oldest religious center of Ladakh, beats all other in sheer grandeur. In its uniqueness of wood carving, statues and frescoes, Alchi offers the highest rewards. The wealth of its possession and its annual summer festival make Hemis the most popular, while Thiksay rates high in terms of architectural impact and the beauty of the festival performances at Likir and Phyang with their proximity to Leh are great attractions in their favour while the accessibility of the Shey, Spituk and the Sankar monasteries make them suitable for visitors with time at a premium. Besides monasteries, the 9 storey Leh Palace, Stok Palace Museum, Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre and the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies Choglamsar, Mosque and Moravian Church at Leh are added attraction for the tourists.

The main features of most important monasteries are:

  • Founder : Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630.
  • Speciality: one of the largest monastery and it has idol of Lord Buddha made up of copper gilt, gold and silver stupas, and revered thangkas, making it one of the richest monasteries in Ladakh. 
  • Hemis Festival: This festival is celebration to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava( Hemis tse-chu)in held on the 9th and 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar (May- June) month.
  • Museum : This monastery has a museum also.
  • Location : 45 km south of Leh.
  • Founder : Paldan Sherab, founded in 1430 A.D.
  • Speciality: : Lakhang Nyerma, dedicated to the Goddess Dorje Chenmo. The monastery is now referred to as ‘Mini Potala’ of India as it resembles Potala Palace in Lhasa,
    Statue of Maitreya Buddha (future Buddha) seated on a lotus which is 40 feet high  
  • Festival: Thiksey Gustor is held here during the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar during the months of October - November when the sacred mask dance.
  • Location : 17 kilometers east of Leh.
  • Founder : Changzem Sherab Zangpo in the 14th century.
  • Speciality: : : statue of Cho Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha), which is a part of the prayer hall.  
  • Festival: Dosmoche festival during the winter in January February month.
  • Location : 115 km from Leh in Nubra valley.
  • Founder : Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpoin 12th century.
  • Speciality: the Sum-tsek is a three-storied structure with a four-armed statue of the Bodhisattva occupying two storeys with figures of Maitreya Buddha, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri on the ground floor; the third structure is Jampe Lhakhang, a temple of Manjushri.  
  • Location : Located 70 kilometres west of Leh.
  • Founder : Mahasiddha Acharya Naropa the 11th century. .
  • Speciality: Renowned as Tharpa Ling which means the ‘place of freedom’; Lamayuru monastery is one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh and said to have been built around the same time as Alchi Monastery.  
  • Festival: Yuru-Kabgyat helds every year on the 17th and the 18th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar.  
  • Location : 127 km towards west from Leh.
  • Founder : Gangsem Sherap Sampo during the early 12th century.
  • Speciality: : Natural cave, It is believed that around 2,550 years ago important sages, scholars, and translators visited this place. This one of the most isolated monasteries of the region is made up of wood and mud.  
  • Location : Lungnak Valley, south of Zanskar and is accessible only by foot. You can choose to get dropped from Padum to the charming little village of Ichar, from where you have to trek up to the monastery.
  • Founder : Lama Changchub in 11th century.
  • Speciality: The icons of Buddha and 5 thangkas sharing space with sculptures and mini chortens. Giant statue of goddess Kali, which is shown to the public during the yearly Spituk festival  
  • Festival : Annual Spituk or Gustor Festival held in the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar.  
  • Location :  8 km away from the main city of Leh.
  • Founder : founded by Lama Duwang Chosje in 1065.
  • Speciality: The monastery got its name as it is believed two serpent spirits, Nanda and Taksako guard it. A giant statue of Maitreya Buddha is also built at Likir monastery.  
  • Festival : The monastery also plays host to the annual festival held in the 12th month of the Tibetan Calendar from the 27th to the 29th of the month.  
  • Location :  62 km to the West of the main city of Leh.
  • Founder : King Deldan Namgyal built in 1655.
  • Speciality: Statue of Lord Buddha is the main feature of this monastery, Shey was the summer retreat of the royal family of Ladakh.
  • Festival : There are two festivals held at this monastery in Ladakh every year; Shey Stubla on the 30th day of the 1st months and Shey Ru-lo on the 10th day of the 7th month.
  • Location :  The Shey Palace has situated 16 km from the City of Leh and is enroute the Thiksey and Hemis monastery.
  • Founder : Denma Kunga Drakpa, the Dorzin or meditation master laid the foundation stone of this monastery.
  • Speciality: ancient wall paintings, collections of old thangkas and murals of Mahakala, the monastery also has a museum that has 900-year-old collections of idols, scriptures, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons.
  • Festival : Gang-Sngon Tsedup Festival, each year, starting from the 17th day up to the 19th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.
  • Location :  15 Kilometers west of Leh.
  • Founder : Bhutanese saint and scholar Chose Jamyang in the late 16th century.
  • Speciality: Stakna means Tiger’s nose which is also the shape of the hill on which the monastery is located.   There’s a big assembly hall known as Dukhang, which is adorned with beautiful paintings of Sakyamuni, Tsepha Kmad and Amchi.  Out of the several idols of the monastery, the most significant one is that of Arya Avalokiteshvara from Assam's Kamrup region. there’s seven feet tall silver chorten which features the statue of Lord Buddha with some prayer notes. Statues of Sakyamuni (Past Buddha), the Present Buddha and Maitreya (Future Buddha) are also found in the hall.
  • Location :  45 km towards east from the city of Leh.
  • Founder : Tshewang Namgyal in early 8th century
  • Speciality: Takthok Monastery widely referred to as Thag Thog by the local Buddhist people. It is built around a cave on a mountainside and hence derives its name Takthok which in English means ‘rock roof’. The monastery has a temple, a Dukhang or assembly hall which has statues of Maitreya, Padmasambhava and Dorje Takposal.
  • Festival : Annual event on the 9th to 10th of every sixth month according to Tibetan calendar.
  • Location :  46 km from the city of Leh.
  • Founder : Lama Tsultim Nima in 1831.
  • Speciality: According to popular belief, Guru Padmasambhava along with other lamas used to meditate in the caves around Rizong in isolation, surviving on one meal a day and avoiding any contact with the outside world. It is known as ‘Paradise for meditation.
  • Location :  The Rizong Monastery is located 73 km towards the city of Leh.
  • Founder : Founded by Lama Dugpa Dorje in the year 1410.
  • Speciality: the monastery has a marvellous collection of ancient Thangkas, walls adorned with sacred paintings, statues of Maitreya, Sakyamuni, the blessing Buddha and a thousand-armed statue of Avalokitesvara.
  • Festval :  The Nagrang festival is celebrated on the 14th and 15th day of the Tibetan calendar.
  • Location :  20 km south of Leh.
  • Founder : Gelek Yashi Takpa in 8th century.
  • Speciality: the monastery has a rich assortment of Tibetan antiques and other precious artefacts and you’ll find the monks in deep meditation in the tranquil ambience of the premises.
  • Location :  130 km from Kargil and 343 km from the city of Leh in Zanskar valley.
  • Founder : King Sengge Namgyalin 17th century.
  • Speciality: It is nine story palace with massive walls and wooden balconies. A victory tower, built in the memory of Ladakhi soldiers, is present towards the top of the palace and it served as the regal residence of the Namgyal dynasty until the mid-19th century.