Shanti Stupa is one of the magnificent Tibetan structures that has ever been built. The architecture and the beauty of this place are unexplainable. Shanti Stupa is a white-dome structure dedicated to Buddhism. This brilliant structure stands atop a steep hilltop at a dizzying height of 11,841 feet above sea level. This dominating altitude of the Stupa allows it to offer picturesque views of its beautiful surroundings and hence, draws the attention of thousands of tourists every year. Facing towards the Leh Palace, the stupa overlooks the entire vibrant and colourful city of Leh and offers panoramic views of the Changspa village too. The beauty of Shanti Stupa takes a level up at night, especially during the full moon night when it is naturally illuminated by the moonlight.
Shanti Stupa is perched at an elevation of 4,267 meters and offers the breathtaking view of the Himalayan ranges that surround this majestic structure. You need to jot down a short trek of 15 minutes from Changspa to the stupa. The Shanti Stupa is constructed on two levels. The first level houses the gold embellished statue of the Buddha and the Dharmachakra (the wheels of life), where the devotees move the wheels while they pray to God for their prosperity. The second level of the stupa depicts the life, nirvana (enlightenment) and the death of Buddha. You can take a round of the stupa praying and enjoying the astonishing beauty of Ladakh.
Shanti Stupa was built under the 'peace pagoda mission' which aims to construct peace pagodas all around the world to promote world peace. The original idea of this magnificent structure was proposed by Nichidatsu Fujii (Fujii Guruji) in 1914. The construction of stupa was the joint effort by the Japanese and Buddhist monks under the supervision of the Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura and Kushok Bakula, Lama of Ladakh from New Delhi, the former international diplomats of the Republic of India.
The construction of the stupa began in 1983, and it was partly funded by the then government of India under the prime ministership of Indira Gandhi. It was completed in 1984, and henceforth a concrete road was built to the stupa. Shanti Stupa inaugurated by the then Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso in August 1991.
Buddhist stupas serve as a marker for a sacred space that represents the great Gautam Buddha's burial mound, and India has few of the oldest stupas of the Buddhist culture. The Shanti Stupa's architecture imitates that of the much older stupas. Its architectural style is quite different from the typical Ladakhi architecture which makes it a unique and popular attraction of the area.The stupa is approached by a climb of 500 steps with Buddhist stone pyramids flanked on both sides. The structure is milk-white and is two storeys tall with a dome on the top. The dome or the mound recalls a mound of dirt that was used to cover the Buddha's remains. The square railing on top of the dome signifies a fence around the mound and is a marker of a sacred site. Above the square edifice is a central pillar that holds an umbrella; this is called the 'chhatra', and it represents the pivot of the universe - where the divine ascends from the heavens and become accessible to humanity. The walls are painted with colourful reliefs that depict the milestones in the life of Gautam Buddha- his birth, his fight against devils, his victories over injustice and his death. There is a huge meditation hall inside where you can sit, chant the Lord's name, meditate and find your inner peace.
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The best season to visit the Shanti Stupa would be during the summers. The temperatures range between a low of 15 degrees Celsius and a high of 30 degrees Celsius. This is the most amicable season with a warm sun and clear blue skies. Monsoons and winters experience seasonal showers, snowfall and cloudy skies and hence, may not be the best time to visit the stupa.
The view of the sunrise and sunset from the Shanti Stupa is simply enchanting and you must try to visit the stupa during those hours.
The closest railheads to Leh is Pathankot Railway Station and Chandigarh Railway Station, both of which are almost 72 hours away by road. You can opt to take a bus to Leh from nearby cities and will take you about 4 days to get here with frequent stops in the middle.
Both routes- via rail and road, are both spectacularly scenic and worth every dime and minute you have spent for them.
You need to climb 500 steps to reach the Shanti Stupa, and this is the recommended route where you can explore and soak in the beautiful surroundings of this monument. However, you may opt to hire a taxi that will take you to the stupa at affordable rates and in no time.
1. Reaching to the hilltop requires a trek, make sure you are in your comfortable attire.
2. Do not miss the view of Shanti Stupa at night.
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