In one corner of the country lies the land of culture; full of stories, amidst the mountains where the Indus flows and a place of worship for Tibetan-Buddhist ideals. Ladakh is not merely known for its mountains and the winter views it has to offer. It is much more than that. Ladakh is full of stories, legends and myths. One such place to find these amazing narratives are in the monasteries. Embedded all over the land, the monasteries in Ladakh offer more than religious sentiments. The monasteries in Ladakh add much more to the beauty of the place. They’re a place of joy where one can find inner peace. Monasteries in Ladakh are also abodes of local deities and somewhere even forts centuries ago. If you’re heading towards Ladakh, then make sure to add the monasteries in your “Places to visit in Ladakh” list!
Hemis monastery is the main centre and the wealthiest monastery of Ladakh, where the head (Lama Ringpoche) of monks reside. It was built in 1630 under the rule of King Singge Namgyal. Hemis Monastery has two temples and one underground museum. The monastery has a spectacular collection of ancient artefacts kept safely in the museum. These include the statues, clothes, thangkas, paintings and many more items. Hemis monastery is also adorned with wall paintings and murals all over the temple. Its complex is also quite favourable for a person to sit and meditate. The monastery is situated 50 kms away from Leh, tucked away in the mountains near the Hemis Village. The best time to visit the monastery is during the month of June and July when the Hemis festival is celebrated. The festival is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava and is well known for masked dance performances.
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Located at the heart of the Nubra Valley is the village of Diskit. It was founded in the 14th century under Changzem Tsera Zangpo and is maintained by the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism. It has a beautiful collection of Buddha Statues, images and paintings and a massive drum. Because of its ideal location, it attracts many tourists throughout the season, including the Dosmoche festival.
Lamayuru monastery is one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh situated on the Srinagar-Leh highway, 27 kms away from Leh. Located on top of the mountain, the monastery is also known as ‘Tharpa Ling’ which translates to the ‘place of freedom’. On every 5th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, a holy mask dance is performed by the monks. The monastery offers a spectacular view of the Lamayuru village.
Phyang monastery lies 17 km away from Leh on a hilltop. A lot can be seen happening in this monastery. It has a 900 year old monastery which has a collection of thangkas, different idols Mongolian, Tibetan and Chinese weaponry and guns. It is also a school which imparts modern education to its students along with Buddhist studies. There is also an old temple which was built during its foundation by Denma Kunga Drakpa. Two festivals are held in the monastery. The Phyang Tseruk Festival is held on the 2nd and 3rd of the 6th month of the Tibetan calendar and includes the famous Cham dance. Besides this, there is also a Sacred Dance festival. outdoors! You are a chatterbox and hate to stay at one place for a longer time. On one hand, you love adventure and on the other, you don’t mind soaking into rich heritage. Places in India with a mix of these two, that you could travel to could be Shillong, Gangtok, Kutch, Tawang, and Zanskar.
The original capital of Ladakh, Shey Palace and Monastery is located 15 km from Leh. Built by Lhachen Spalgigon, the first king, it was further built by Deldan Namgyal in 1655. Surrounded by 100s of stupas, the palace has the largest Buddha statue made of gilded copper, standing at the height of three floors of the building. The palace has a monastery and a library. The palace is also located near Drul Padma Karpo Institute, also known as Rancho School featured in the ‘3 idiots’ movie.