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Ladakh Monasteries

The architecture of Ladakh contains Tibetan and Indian influences, and reflects a deeply Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, is a common feature on every Gompa. The Chorten have four-sided walls in Ladakh, as opposed to round walls in parts of Tibet. Many of the houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south, and are often made out a mixture of rocks, wood, cement and earth.

SHEY 

About 14 kms. from Leh located on Leh- Manali highway was the old capital and home of the kings of Ladakh before the new capital was established in Leh. The palace sits in a strategic position on a spur jutting out into the Indus valley.

Shey enjoyed power and prestige as the ruins of the fort and palace at Shey testify. The main temple contains a large Buddha statue sculpted by Nepalese craftsmen..


 


 

THIKSEY



The monastery is one of the largest in Ladakh. This gompa is an impressive one situated on top of a craggy hill while the rest of the complex sprawls down beneath it. It was founded in 15th century by Gelukpa monks and houses more then 500 monks.

The temple on the right of the courtyard houses 15 meter statue of the Maitreya, or future Buddha, which was finished in 1981, while at the back of the Dukhang there is a Buddha statue dating from the 15th century.

Thiksey monastery celebrates its GUSTOR two months in advance, 17th & 19th of the 9th Tibetan month which generally falls in November.

 

 

 

 

LIKIR

 

As the original structure of the monastery at Likir was destroyed by fire so the building you see today is about 200 years old. The land to monastery was given in 1065. The monks are of Gelukpa order and is under direct charge of "Nari Rimpoche" whose present incarnation is Dalai Lama's younger brother.

The monks of this monastery are also care taker of Alchi gompa and several of the small gompas in the area. There is a small museum with interesting royal artifacts, arms and armour on show.

 
 


 

 


HEMIS

 

The monastery founded in 17th century is one of the most famous one mainly due to its spectacular annual festival. Having the royal patronage of King Sengge Namgyal, Hemis soon became the largest and the richest of Ladakhs Gompas.


Hemis is sometimes called Chang Chub Sang Ling, 'the solitary place of the compassionate ones'; it belongs to the Kagyupa sect. The village and gompa lie tucked up a side valley south-west of Karu. Around 42kms.  

 

 

 

 


LAMAYURU

 

Also Known as YUNG-DRUNG or SWASTIKA is one of the immediately striking in Ladakh. Its position on top of a beautifully eroded crag, complete with rock pinnacles and caves, gives it an almost fairy-tale quality as it stands over the small village below.

The gompa was originally dedicated to the Bon-Cho deities before it was taken over by the Buddhists. Later it was converted into a stronghold of the Kagyupa sect (red hat).

The site of the monastery is probably the oldest in Ladakh. The landscape around is fabulous, this is also called "moon land".

'Yuru Kab-Gyat' the festival at Lamayuru is held every year on the 17th & 18th day of the 5th Tibetan month which generally falls in July. 



ALCHI

 

The CHOSKOR, or religious complex at ALCHI, once a thriving religious center but now deserted, is situated on the bank of river Indus. This is one the most important cultural sites in Ladakh. This 11th century Choskor was founded by Lak-Dan Shas_rab, a Tibetan noble man who accompanied Nyima-Gon into Ladakh.

It's a treasure trove of early Buddhist art in the Kasmiri tradition, a style quite different from the Tibetan art found in Ladakh's other gompas.

 

 

 

 

 

 MATHO

 

This is the only Saskya-pa gompa in Ladakh, one of the last Red Hat sects to be founded in Tibet. The monastery is situated on a hill in a lateral ravine of the Stok-Khnagri range across Indus. It is believed to be around 500 years old and now has a resident community of about 60 monks.

The monastery has become famous for its annual festival, during which specially chosen monks become the vehicle for an Oracle. 'MATHO NAGRANG' the annual festival is held on the 14th & 15th day of the 1st Tibetan month, which generally falls during the months of Feb - Mar.

For several days they answer people's questions and predict the following year's events while in a trance.


 


 

STOK

 

Since the King was dethroned by the Dogras the royal family is residing here. There is an interesting museum that contains an odd collection. A visit to Stok Palace is worth a visit. There is small monastery too which belongs to Gurphug, a branch of Spituk monastery.
‘Guru Tse-Chu' over here is held on 9th & 10th day of the 1st Tibetan month.

This has been the Royal Palace since the King was dethroned by the Dogras and is now the home of the last king's widow. It is around 12 kms from Leh. There is an interesting museum that contains an odd collection of exhibits including the King's teacup holder, the queen's turquoise headdress, and many more interesting things.

 



SHANTI STUPA:-

A magnificent white-domed structure built by Japanese for world peace at a hill top in Changspa village. H.H Dalai Lama inaugurated it in 1985. It's state of the art work attracts a lot of tourists visiting Ladakh. Spectacular view of Leh town can be from this vantage point.

Leh Palace:-
Built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century is of same style as POTALA PALACE of Lhasa. The building stands majestically overlooking the town. The Palace is under the Archaeological survey of India.

SPITUK :-
This was the first Gelukpa (yellow hat) monastery to be established in Ladakh. This monastery was originally founded during 11th century as a KADAM-PA establishment. Rinchen Zangpo predicted that a monastery would be found here and that would set an example to other monasteries in the land. The monastery you see today was built in 15th century on the site of the 11th century temple.
The festival of Spituk Gustor is held here every year on the 28th & 29th of the 11th Tibetan month which correspondingly falls in the month of January.

PHYANG:-
This 16th century gompa was ordered by, Tashi Namgyal. The monastery is located on a small hill above the attractive village and like LAMAYURU belongs to Kagyupa
(red hat) order monks. It's thought that he was trying to seek forgiveness for blinding his elder brother, a devious act that made him heir to the throne and soon after the king.

Annual festival called Phyang Tse-dup is held on the 2nd and 3rd of the 6th Tibetan month which falls in July-August.

BASGO:-
Basgo is an abandoned fortress in Ladakh (Indian Himalayas). It has several buddhist temples including one where a team of local fresco experts have been working for 8 years to restore the centuries old paintings. It's a very eerie and isolated place. Basgo is, of course, known for its castle ruin and the adjoining royal temples spectacularly located on the rocks. Basgo was the capital of lower Ladakh before the kingdom was united at Leh. Until recently, this fascinating World Heritage Site was crumbling into dust, but UNESCO and the Basgo Welfare Committee have joined forces to restore the ancient citadel compound. Today, Basgo's Chamba Gompa is one of the highlights of the Indus Valley.


RIZONG:-
Gelukpa monasteries are known for their strict discipline but Rezong is reputed to be the strictest of them all. The monks of the monastery own nothing more than the robes they are wearing and all eat the same food from the gompa kitchen. The Gompa, just over 160 years old, contains little of historical interest but its location in this quite valley is worth a visit. There is a small Chulichan nunnery too.


TAKTOK:-
Tak Tok (Thak Thak / Tak Thog) means 'rock roof' is located around 20kms up a side valley north-east of Karu. This interesting little monastery is built around a cave where it's believed Padmasambhava lived and meditated for a while. This is the only monastery in Ladakh of the Nyingmapa sect, the oldest Tibetan order.


CHANGTHANG -
The descendents of Tibetan nomads known as CHANG-PAS, inhabit this part of Ladakh. These people continue to live a nomadic life by wandering along with their livestock. These people normally trade in Pashmina, meat, wool, butter, cheese etc. The Chang-pas live in Yak hair tents which they erect wherever they camp and these tents are know as REBO.

The main attraction of this area is PANGONG, TSOMORIRI & TSOKAR lakes. Pangong, Tsomoriri and Tsokar all have extremely fragile ecosystems and provide habitants some fragile species of birds.