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Monasteries of Ladakh

Spituk Monastery
The Spituk Gonpa "Exemplary"; 7km. to southwest of Leh, was founded by Od-Ide, in the 11th century AD; when the monastic community was introduced. Meanwhile, Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo (the great translator) visited this monastery. In those days the Gonpa belonged to the Kadampa School but Gelukpa order was introduced during the reign of King Dragspa Bum-Lde, when Lama Lhawang Lotus restored the monastery. The "Spituk Gustor" takes place in the courtyard of the monastery, on the 18th and 19th of the 11th month of Tibetan Calendar.

Shanti Stupa
The Japanese for World Peace built the Shanti Stupa, at Changspa, on the hilltop, and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1985. Its state of the art work attracts a lot of tourists to Ladakh and is spectacular to watch.

Tsemo in Leh
King Gragspa Bum-Lde built the "Red Gompa" known as Tsemo Gompa in 1430 AD. The monument has three-storied Maitriya Buddha's statue and a one-storied statue of Avaloketesvara and Manjushri. The Tsemo Sungbum Chenmo (sacred text) was written in gold and silver, Tisuru Stupa consist of 108 temples, which were remarkable work completed in the reign of king Graspa-Bum-Lde. The Namgyal Tsemo (victory Peak) was built by King Tashi Namgyal after the reunification of upper and lower Ladakh and victory over Hor. Their (Hor) bodies are placed under the image of Mahakala, the guardian deity to stop further invasion of Hor. The Leh palace known as 'Lechen Palkhar' was built by Singay Namgyal in the beginning of 17th Century A.D. The nine-storied palace is now deserted, and the ASI (Archeological Survey Of India) has taken up the renovation work.

Sankar Monastery
The Sankar Gompa is a couple of kilometers away from Leh town. It belongs to the Gelukspa school of Tibetan Buddhism. This small Gompa is a branch of the Spituk Monastery, founded by the first incarnation of Skyabje Bakula (head monk of Spituk)

Stok Gompa & Palace
Stok, 14 Kms southeast of Leh, is a place, where the present day royal family resides. The three days trek from Stok to Spituk and the 8 days trek of Markha Valley start from here. King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal built Stok palace & Museum in the year 1825, after Zorawar Singh's annexation of Ladakh. The royal family resides here since Ladakh lost to Zorawar Singh. At present the palace has a collection of royal dresses, old Thankas, King's crown etc. that is open for visitors. Gurphuk Gompa, a branch of Spituk Monastery is a little away from the palace, which is famous for its festival "Guru Tsechu" held on the 9th and 10th of the 1st month of Tibetan Calendar.

Shey Gompa & Palace
Shey, around 15kms south of Leh was the seat of power of the first king of Ladakh, Lhachen Spalgigon, who constructed the hill top fortress. The ruins can be seen further above the present Shey Palace. There are hundreds of Chortens (stupas) and Dresthang Gompa built around the palace, which are under the Thiksey Monastery. King Deldan Namgyal built Shey Palace in the beginning of the 17th century AD. The main image in the monastery is the three-storey statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, made of copper guilt, which was made by Deldan Namgyal in the memory of his father Singay Namgyal. The statue is the only of its kind in the region. Dresthang Gompa near the palace was built during the reign of King Singay Namgyal, with a three-storey statue of Buddha. "Shey Srubla" festival is also held here at Dresthung Gompa. The Rock-carved statue of five Buddha can be seen below the palace on the roadside, which was probably carved during the reign of Singay Namgyal.

Thiksey Monastery
Thiskey Gompa, 17kms. South of Leh the most beautiful of all the Monasteries in Ladakh belongs to the Gelukspa order. The Gompa was first built at Stakmo by Sherab Zangpo. Later the nephew of Sherab Zangpo, Paldan Sherab, founded the Thiskey Gompa on a hilltop to the north of Indus River. The Thiskey festival (Thiskey Gustor) is held in the month of October- November. Around 80 Monks resides here at present. Dukhang Karmo is a huge long assembly hall, which consists of the image of Shakyamuni and Maitriya Buddha statues. Chamkhang at the top near the courtyard contains the three storey Maitriya Buddha's statue, constructed in recent years. Dukhang at the top consists of thousand armed Avaloketesvara, Shakyamuni Buddha and Bodhisattavas, Gonkhang contains the statues of Vajra Bhairava, Mahakala & Dharmakaya, the goddess Paldan Lhamo and Cham-sring.

Matho Monastery
Matho Gompa, around 26km. south east of Leh is the only Gompa, which belongs to the Saskya order and Lama Tungpa Dorjay founded it in the 16th century and the Gompa was named Thupstan-Sharling Choskor. In order to introduce the Monastic community, the king offered religious estate in neighboring villages and the Nag-Rang festival was started, which is held on 14th and 15th day of the Tibetan calendar.

Stakna Monastery
The Hemis Monastery is around 45 km. south of Leh, which is one of the largest and most famous monasteries, belonging to the Drukpa order. The monastery founded by the first incarnation Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630, who was invited to Ladakh by a king Singey Namgail, and offered him a religious estate throughout the region. The youngest son, Nawang Namgail, became a monk and his name was changed to Zamling Drags. The Monastery was named Changchub Samling and the community was introduced. The Hemis festival is held in the month of June.

Hemis Monastery
The Hemis Monastery is around 45 km. south of Leh, which is one of the largest and most famous monasteries, belonging to the Drukpa order. The monastery founded by the first incarnation Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630, who was invited to Ladakh by a king Singey Namgail, and offered him a religious estate throughout the region. The youngest son, Nawang Namgail, became a monk and his name was changed to Zamling Drags. The Monastery was named Changchub Samling and the community was introduced. The Hemis festival is held in the month of June.

Chemrey Monastery
Chemrey monastery is located 40 kms from Leh. The monastery is sited there on a mountain side and was founded 355 year ago by Lama Tagsang Reschen with the dharmaraja Singge Namagyal acting as patron. Its full name is Chimde Thegchoggon. There is a sacred image of Padmasambhava to be seen there, one storey in height. There are, furthermore, many shrines. A custom exists whereby every year on the 28th and 29th days of the 9th month sacred dances are performed in association with the festival of an initiatory ritual. There are 300 monks in residence. The successive reincarnations of Lama Tagsang Raschen act as the incumbents.

Takthok Monastery
The Takthok (the monastery with rock ceiling); 50km. east of Leh, this is the only monastery belonging to the Nimgmapa school of order. The monastery came into existence when Guru Padma Sambhava visited this place and blessed it in the 8th century. The Gompa was merely a meditation cave of Padma Sambhava, with footprints and many other signs, until the reign of King Tsewang Namgail. When Mahasiddha Kunga Phunstog introduced monastic community. It was given the name of Takthok Padmalinggon. The Takthok Festival is held in the month of July or August.

Phyang Monastery
Phyang Monastery, 17km. west of Leh is remarkably built on the hilltop, similar to the Likir monastery. This monastery belongs to the Degungpa Order. It was the first monastery, which introduced the Degungpa teaching of 'Skyob Jigsten Gonbo' in Ladakh that was founded by Chosje Danma Kunga, during the reign of King Jamyang Namgyal in the 16th Century A.D. It has about 50 monks in residence. Phyang also has a festival called 'Phyang Tseruk' on the 2nd & 3rd of the 6th month of Tibetan Calendar.

Sumda Chun Monastery
Sumda Chon Monastery is around 65kms to the southwest of Leh, which is connected by a motorable road, upto Sumdo. The track starts ascending to the west, through a gorge from the left bank of the stream. At one point, the track crosses to the right bank and ascent becomes little more difficult. One or two houses come in the way before another gorge appears on the right which leads to the Sumda chon Monastery and towards the left leads to Sumda Chenmo. This track goes along the stream with plantations of Willow. After walking for an hour the monastery appears above the village houses. There is another short track from Alchi Village through Stakspila, the ascent from Alchi is more difficult and long compare to Sumda side. The pass is open only in summer. The Sumda Chon Monastery was probably founded during the period of Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo with Alchi Choskor and Mangu Monastery. The monastery comprises of three temples. The assembly hall has the image of four headed Vairocana, as the central or main image which is nicely decorated probably better than the Alchi and the Mangu Monasteries. The wall has murals of four Buddhas i.e. Ratnasambhava, Akshokhya, Amitabha, Amogasiddhi and Vairocana.

Basgo Palace
Basgoo "Basgoo Rabtan Chartsekher" West of Leh was built by king Jamyang Namgyal and Singey Namgyal in 16th Century AD. Singey Namgyal made three storey copper guilt of Maitriya Buddha, as a memorial of his father Jamyang Namgyal.

Likir Monastery
Likir (the Naga-Encircled) around 53km west of Leh belongs to the Gelukspa Order. The Alchi Monastery is also a branch of Likir. Lama Durwang Chosje founded this monastery in 1065 A.D. during the reign of king Lhachen Gyalpo, which was named 'Klu-Khil-GA-Ladan-Dar-Rgyas-Ling' and a monastic festival, Likir Dosmochey takes place on the 28th & 29th day, of the 12th month of Tibetan calendar.

Rezong Monastery
Rezong "Vuma Changchubling" around 73 Kms west of Leh, and north of the Indus River from Uletokpo village. It is beautifully set in a valley, deep inside a gorge and the most isolated monastery in Ladakh. About 137 years ago Lama Tsultim Nima founded this Gompa and monastic community was introduced with strict rules and regulations. Chulichan the Nunnery place is around one & half Kms. Further down the monastery, around 20 nuns reside at Chulichan; they provide food and clothes to the monks. Apart from above activities they perform prayers in the morning and evening.

Mangyu Monastery
Mangu is situated to the south of Uletokpo and west of Alchi, which is around 2 hours walk from Alchi, Taking this track, one crosses the Indus by a small Bridge and passing the Gera village, it enters into a deep gorge. Ascending from the right bank of the stream, a half way and it crosses to the left, after sharp turn. After around two and a half hours of walk, the Mangu Villagecomes to sight, picturesquely standing on the foothills, above the ravine. The Mangu Monastery is also constructed on flat land like Alchi and Tabo Monasteries. The great translator Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo probably founded this monastery during the same period as the Alchi Choskor. The monastery comprises of four temples. The smaller temples, on either side of the main temple have a statue of Avaloketesvara and Maitriya in the standing posture. The right side temple has a statue of a four-headed Vairocana, as the main image. The wall has murals of Mandala.

Temisgam Palace
Tingmosang or Temisgam is situated in a valley, to the north of the Indus River and west of Leh, around 92kms. From Leh, this is on the trekking route of Lekir to Khalsey. King Gragspa Bum younger brother of Gragspa Bum-Lde, who was ruling over Sham, built the Tingmosgang Palace. A fortress wall encircles the Palace.

Alchi Monastery
Alchi Choskor "Religious Enclave" is 69 km. west of Leh, the most famous and largest of all the Gonpa built by Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo. He appointed four families to look after Choskor, as there was no monastic community introduced, and then in the 15th century Choskor was taken over by the Lekir Monastery since then Choskor is being taken care of by Lekir Monastery. The monastery comprises of Dukhang (Assembly Hall), Sumtsek Lhakhang (three tier) the Lhakhang Soma (New Temple), Jamyang Lhakhang (Munjushri Temple), Lotsava Lhakhang (Translator Temple) and Kangur Lhakhang. The Sculptors and Wood carvers are said to be brought from Kashmir around in 11th Century.

Lamayuru Monastery
The Lamayuru "Yungdrung" Gompa is remarkably built on a rock, around 125kms. West of Leh, on the Leh Srinagar highway. Lamayuru belongs to the Drigunpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. The history of the monastery begins with the visit of Arahat Nimagung to this place, when there was merely a lake here. It is said that Arahat made a prophecy that "a monastery will come up at this spot" and he made offerings (prayer with grains of corn) to the Nagaserpent spirits. The corns mixed with the earth and formed in the shape of Swastika (Yungdrung), later it came to be known as Yungdrung Monastery. The Great Translator Rinchen Zangpo constructed a temple here in eleventh century. Naropa also visited Lamayuru and meditated here. Gelukspa or Kadampa school of Tibetan Buddhism initially looked after Lamayuru, but later; it was taken over by Digungpa Order. Its monastic festival is called "Yuru Kabgyat", takes place on 17th and 18th of 5th month of the Tibetan Calendar.

Deskit Monastery
Lama Shesrab Zangpo of Stod founded the Deskit Gompa around 1420 AD during the reign of king Dragspa. Approximately 100 monks reside here. This monastery is a branch of Thiksey Monastery. The monastic festival called Gustor take place on the 20th and 29th of the 12th month of Tibetan Calende.

Karzok Monastery
The original name of Gompa is 'Thupstan Sningpo Druprgout Standar Chosling', which was founded between 1851-1861 by Lama Kunga Lodos Snyingbo and sponsored by head of Rupsho Tsering Tashi Namgyal. The main statue in the Gompa is of Shakyamuni Buddha's, Guru Snang-Sret-Zinlnon, Statue of first incarnation of Stagtsang 'Nawang-gyatso' and copper gilt Opakmed statue.

 

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