Famous Ladakh Monateries
On the cultural and religious tour to Ladakh you will come across numerous gompas and monasteries in the peculiar Himalayan towns. Located at the hilltops these monasteries provide the spectacular views of the rugged snow peaks and the valleys below. Of all the important monasteries in Ladakh, Spituk Monastery, Shey Palace and Monastery, Hemis Monastery forms the major attraction of the region.
Hemis Gompa Monastery: Built in 1630, Hemis Gompa is the world known largest monastery in the region of Ladakh. The monastery stands camouflaged inside a canyon and belongs to the red sect. Founded by the first incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso, this monastery is somewhat different from the other important monasteries in Ladakh. It is the venue of the famous Hemis Festival which is celebrated here in the month of June – July every year. It celebrates the birthday of the Indian missionary seer Padmasambhava, who is credited for the spreading the message of Buddhism in Ladakh.
Spituk Monastery: 8 km along the flat Indus River Valley from Leh rises the building of the monastery of Spituk, stark and impressive in each of its reflections. It is a 11th century monastey; which was named Spituk by Rinchen Zangpo, who is credited for spreading Buddhism in monastery contains the great collection of ancient masks, antique arms and the beautiful image of Mahakal, dedicated to the deity of Vajrabhairva.
Thiksey Monastery: Thiksey is a 600 year old monastery, located 20 km from the town of Leh. It is 12 storey monastery complex that comprises of several stupas, statues, thankas, wall paintings, swords and a large pillar with engraved Buddha’s teachings. There are about ten temples and a school in a complex. The main attraction of the monastery is the huge golden statue of the Maitreya Buddha. This monastery is situated at the top of the hillrock and forms the part of the Gelukpa order. Thiksey Gompa is a home to approximately eighty monks. It also plays the host to famous Gustor ritual, organized from the 17th to 19th day of the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa: Namgyal Tsemo Gompa is located in the region of Leh. The monastery was established by the King Tashi Namgyal in the year 1430. It stands behind the Leh Palace on the Namgyal Tsemo peak over looking the town. The three story high solid gold idol of Lord Buddha (laughing Buddha) and a one storied high statue of Avaloketesvara and Manjushri forms the main attractions of this magnificent monastery. It also houses several ancient manuscripts and beautiful frescoes. Namgyal Tsemo is maintained by the monks of Sankar Gompa.
Shey Palace and Monastery: Shey Palace is an impressive structure, built by the King Deldan Namgyal in the beginning of the 17th century. It lies at the distance of 15 kilometers from Leh and is considered as one of the most beautiful gompas in Ladakh. It boosts of the three storey high statue of Buddha, made of gold plated copper, which is one of its kind in Ladakh. Shey Gompa was earlier the seat of the first king of the Ladakh – Lhachen Spalgigon. According to the legends all the kings of Ladakh has to be born in Shey only.