Located at an altitude of 11,800 feet, Thiksay or Thikse Gompa is a twelve storey monastic complex. The distinguishing factor about this monastery is that it has buildings given to female renunciates to reside and practise their religious acts. This too belongs to the Gelug sect. The complex constitutes many Buddhist art, statues, and stupas. The monastery also houses the largest statue of Maitreya, future Buddha, which is 49 feet high. After Hemis Monastery, Thikse Gompa is the second most prominent monastery in the valley and administers around ten smaller gompas nearby.
Address: Leh Manali Highway, Thiksey, Jammu and Kashmir 194201
Timing: 7:00AM- 7:00PM
Established in 1515, Phyang Gompa is said to be the earliest of monasteries to be established by the Drigungpa sect. A number of sacred shrines are instilled around the complex exemplifying a unique amalgamation of Kashmiri, Chinese and Ladakhi culture. A two days annual festival called Gang-Sngon Tsedup Festival is observed for the seventeenth to nineteenth day of the first month of Tibetan calendar. Another festival is celebrated in the third month exhibiting sacred dances.
Location: Jammu and Kashmir 194101
Timings: 12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Sitting on the hill named Stakna, this gompa is entreated by the mesmerizing Indus river. Stakna gompa is home to around 30 Buddhist monks. It was founded by a Bhutanese lama and belongs to the Drukpa sect. This gompa is known for the sandalwood statues, paintings of Bodhisattva, Padmasambhav and other Buddhist monks arrayed in the main prayer hall along with a 7 feet gilded in gold statue of Buddha. The place is extremely alluring and photogenic because of its location and the stream.
Address: Stakna, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir 194101
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Built in 1655, Shey monastery is an integral part of the Shey palace, now in ruins. The copper and gold gilded statue of Shakyamuni Buddha placed in the courtyard of the monastery is the second-largest statue in the region. The wall behind the statue displays the paintings and murals of Buddha, his followers and other significant figures. The statue divides the length of the monastery in three levels. The lowest shows his feet and murals of Arhats, monks who achieved Nirvana. The middle displays murals of Buddha in different postures. The topmost level is dark and numerous butter lamps lit it with their eternal flames.
Address: Shey, 15 kilometres from Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, 194101
Timings: 7:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Located in the lower region of village Alchi, this monastery is a perfect example of blending of Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The monastery is said to be founded by the great translator, Rinchen Zangpo in 958 AD. Alchi is a complex of four separate structures, Alchi monastic complex being the most important of all. The Kashmiri style of art can be well traced in the paintings and carvings in the Dukhang or the main assembly hall. The monastery has been influenced by many kings reigning in the collateral hills of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Hence, the Hindu impression in the style of the complex and particularly this monastery inevitably catches your eyes.
Address: Alchi, Jammu and Kashmir 194106
Timings: 8:00AM- 6:00PM
Built around a natural cave, this remotely located monastery is said to have been visited by many scholars, monks and translators for over 2550 years. Although, the present complex was established by the people of the Gelug sect in the fifteenth century. The walls of this monastery are carved with images of the great 16 Arhats. It is believed that these 16 arhats once visited the monastery and meditated here. Caves call for meditators and the peaceful and isolated environment of the places can transcend anyone to a level of higher spiritual awareness. It is the only monastery in Ladakh to which you can trek.
Location: Darcha, Jammu and Kashmir 194302
Timings: 6:00AM - 6:00PM
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Bardan Gompa was built in the seventeenth century by the Dugpa Kargyud sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is set aside the Lungnak river. The gompa also administers several small hermitages where renunciates can stay and devote themselves to the higher order. The main assembly hall or Dukhang of this monastery has many grand statues of Buddha accompanied by several stupas made of clay, wood, bronze and copper.
Location: Padam, Zanskar, Jammu and Kashmir
Timings: 8:00AM- 6:00PM
Diskit Gompa is the oldest and the largest monastery in the Nubra Valley. It was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, who also founded the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism. The monastery is the official residence of the chief lama of the valley. The prayer hall has a magnificent statue of Rho Rinpoche meaning Crowned Buddha. Dosmoche festival is celebrated annually in the month of February. The inhabitants of the valley join in and indulge themselves in sacred prayers and ceremonial activities.
Location: Nubra Valley, Leh, Ladakh
Timings: 8:00AM- 6:00PM
Founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus, Stok monastery remains an indispensable part of the Stok Palace complex. The notable features of this monastery are a library that has all 108 volumes of Kanjur or sacred texts prescribed by Tibetan Buddhism and an annual dance-mask festival. Anyone can participate in the celebratory and can enjoy the food, dance, music and culture of the region. For a traveller, the oracles that are invited during the festival is the most interesting and entrancing part. The monastery is marked by the presence of a 71 feet tall statue of Gautama Buddha ordained by the 14th Dalai Lama in 2016.
Location: Stok, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
Timings: 8:00AM - 6:00PM
Likir Monastery or Likir gompa as it is called in local language is one of the oldest monasteries in the region. It was founded in 1065 by Lama Duwang Chosje and it primarily belongs to the Gelugpa sect. Besides the traditional place of worship, Likir monastery is also an archive of ancient manuscripts, carvings, paintings, costumes and earthen pots designing. The 75 feet tall and gilded idol of Buddha is the specification of this monastery.
Location: Likir, Jammu and Kashmir 194101
Timings: 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Yet another monastery founded by the Gelug sect, Kursha gompa is a numinous place enlivened by the Doda river flowing past it. It was founded by the translator, Phagspa Shesrab. It is the largest monastery in the Zanskar valley and home to more than 100 monks. The complex has numerous shrines in it. The paintings are delightful and depict the life and order of Buddha and are said to be painted by the lama Dzadpa Dorje himself. The main attraction is cloth painting that is put to display during the annual festival called Gustor festival. It is said to be embellished with intricate gold and colourful threads embroidery centred around the life of Buddha and remains the most riveting part.
Location: Karsha, Jammu and Kashmir 194302
Timings: 7:00AM - 7:00PM
This Shanti Stupa in Leh sitting on the hilltop of Chanspa, is the most popular tourist attraction across valleys in Leh. It was inaugurated in 1991. His Holy 14th Dalai Lama himself enshrined Buddha's relics at its base. It is equally famous for the picturesque view it provides from such a height as it is for its spiritual and religious significance. It is a two-storey structure adorned all the sacred signs associated with Buddha. The place is known for its magical sunrise and sunset. The whole stupa is lightened up at night making the view exceptional.
Location: Shanti Stupa Rd, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir 194101
Timings: 5:00AM- 9:00PM
Belonging to the Drukpa sect, Hemis gompa was re-established in 1672 by Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal. The gompa is wholly devoted to Padmasambhava, locally known as Guru Rinpoche. It is said that Shakyamuni Buddha asserted that he will reincarnate as Padmasambhava on the 10th day of the fifth month as per the Tibetan calendar as he did. His birth and life are celebrated in the Hemis festival which falls in the month of June every year. The event is marked by setting forth the statue of the great guru welcomed by traditional music and drums beating in ceremonial tone.
Address: Hemis, Ladakh
Timings: 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM.
Lamayuru monastery, loosely translated as "Eternal Monastery", is situated at a height of 11,520 feet. It is the largest and the oldest monastery in Ladakh and serves as a permanent residence to around 150 monks. Historically, the place was a complex of five buildings, out of which only one is standing still. It hosts two annual festivals in which all the monks from neighbouring gompas come together and pray. Sitting in the lap of Ladakhi hills, this monastery is no less than heaven for nature lovers.
Address: B.P.O Khaltse, Ladakh, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir 194106
Timings: 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Situated at an altitude of 13,225 feet, Rangdum monastery belonging to Gelug sect crowns the Suru Valley. It is believed to be built by Gelek Yashi Tupka around two hundred years ago. The complex is a home to 30 monks. To fund the regular expenses of the monastery, the head committee has allowed homestays for travellers. This has surfaced opportunity for those who want to experience the authentic and ethereal culture and beauty of living in a monastery in a small valley.
Location: Rangdum, Jammu and Kashmir 194109
Which of these monasteries in Ladakh have you visited? Let us know in the comments below!