Cultural Tour

Namgyal Tsemo Gompa:
Known as the 'Red Gompa' was build in 1430 AD and contains an impressive three story high Maitriya Buddha statue and a one story statue of Avalokitesvara and Manjushri. You can get a beautiful view of Leh from here.

Leh Palace:
This nine storey palace was build in the 17th century by Singay Namgyal and is currently under reconstruction. The view from the palace makes this place worth a visit.

Sankar Gompa:
This Gompa belong to the Gelukpa order and have a fine statue of the Buddhist deity of compassion, Avalokitesvara with 1000 heads and arms.

Shanti Stupa:
This stupa is locates on a hilltop and was build by Japanese in order to represent World Peace and was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1985. The views of both sunrise and sunset from here is breathtaking.

This Gompa is located in the heart of Leh city and was build by the Buddhist Association of Ladakh in the year 1957. The highlight of the Gompa is a statue of Joyo Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha).

Devachen, meaning "Pure Land" is located around 10 km from Leh and now contains a meditation hall, school, nunnery, hospital and a museum on Buddhism. The Mahabodhi International Meditation Center is located on the same ground.

Stok Palace & Museum:
Stok Palace was build in 1814 and was where the royal family reside when Ladakh was lost to Zorawar Singh. Five rooms are currently open to visitors and here you can find a unique collection of royal and traditional costumes, old thankas, photographs and jewelry belonging to the royal family.

Shey Palace:
Shey Palace is 15 km from Leh and was build by King Deldan Namgyal in 17th century AD. This palace was formerly used as a summer palace by the kings of Ladakh. This fortress is located on a hill and although is currently under restoration, the view from here is amazing.
There are hundreds of stupas build around the palace, which can be seen from the top of the hill. The main attraction is the three story (12m) statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, made of gold and gilded copper sheets and is the only one of its kind in the region.

The village of Lamayuru has the oldest known gompa in Ladakh dating back to the 16th century and has the 11 headed image of Avalokiteshwara Buddha, mainly in ruins. The Gompa was build on a rock and according to the legend, during the time of Sakya Muni Buddha, there used to be a crystal clear lake where the monastery today stands. Arahat Nimagung, on his visit made a propechy that there will be a monastery at that spot. With the blessing of the Lama the water of the lake receded leaving place for the monastery. There is a collection of carpets, thankas, statues and frescoes for viewing within the complex. Around the Village, the erosion of the rocks have left the surrounding area to be known as "Moon Land".

Hemis Gompa:
This monastery is also known as Changchub Samling is 45km from Leh and is one of the richest, largest and most important monastery in Ladakh and has the patronage of the royal family. It was built in 1630 and belongs to the Drukpa Order.
The famous Hemis festival is held annually in the month of June in honour of the renowned Indian sage Guru Padma Sambhava's birth and a 12 meter long thanka (the largest in the world) with his painting is displayed every 12 years.
The monastery houses well-preserved frescoes with Kashmiri influence, including the famous "Wheel of Life", a three storey statue of Padmasambhava, silver chortens studded with precious and semi precious stones, an impressive library of Tibetan style books, large number of thankas and various images of Buddha. The view from the top of the monastery is truly a breathtaking.

Takthok Gompa:
Situated 50 km east of Leh is Takthok Gompa, the only monastery belonging to the Nying-ma-pa order. It is said that this monastery was founded by the tantric guru, Padma Sambhava.
The Gompa was a cave and a place of meditation for Padma Sambava and owes its name, Tak Tog (Rock-Roofed) to its roof which is a natural rock. The new monastery is built on ground level and contains the image of Guru Nang Srith Zilon in a central position; to its right is an image of Guru Dorje Dolo and to left an image of Guru Padma Gyalpo. There are seats for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Taklung Rinpoche; the latter is believed to be the incarnate lama of the monastery.
There are two festivals held at this gompa every year: Tak Thog Tse Chu and Tak Thog Wangchogis. The surrounding village of Sakti is tranquil and unspoiled.

Phyang Monastery:
Belonging to the red sect, this Gompa was build in the 16th century. Just 16 Kms. from Leh, it houses hundreds of statues, thankas, old manuscripts and some old weapons.

Likir Monastery:
Likir Gompa was founded in the 14th century AD and was rededicated to the Gelukpa order in the 15th century. The earlier gompa was destroyed in a fire and the reconstruction dates back to the 18th century. The Alchi Monastery is managed by the Likir Gompa.
There is an external statue of the Maitreya Buddha, 25 meter high, which is very unusual for gompas in this region. There is a small museum which houses an interesting collections of thankas, old religious and domestic costumes etc. There is also an annual festival 'The Likir Dosmochey.

Matho Gompa:
This Gompa is situated on the opposite bank of the Indus river, across Thiksey. Matho was build in the first half of the 16th century AD and is the only Gompa belonging to the Sakya order. The annual festival of Oracles is held in early March, in which young monks are selected as oracles go into trances and perform shocking feats with swords and knives and inflict wounds on themselves which leaves no marks. Before the festival, these monks prepare by undergoing two months of meditation and fasting. Only male visitors are permitted to visit the room in which they undergo such purification for the festival. This Gompa also has a valuable collection of very old and beautiful Thankas, some in the form of 'Mandalas'.

40 km from Leh is a town called Basgo, once the capital of lower Ladakh. It was the seat of power of a branch of the Namgyal family. It is here in 1680 AD that invading Mongol and Tibetan armies were held in check over a three year long seige. The old mud brick Gompa, approximately 400 years old and the 500 year old citadel are listed as one of the top 100 endangered world heritage sites in 2000. Original 16th century murals and other arts of Basgo are well worth a visit. The Serzang temple houses an enormous gold and copper statue of the Maitreya Buddha.

Spituk Gompa:
Only 8 Kms. from the Leh city, majestically standing on a hilltop and overlooking the Indus valley is Spituk Gompa. Built in the 15th century, this Gompa belongs to the Gelukpa Order.
Right on top of the hill is Mahakal Temple, containing the shrine of Vajrabhairava. This statue is unveiled once a year at the annual Gustor festival. A collection of ancient masks, antique arms, icons and thankas are available for viewing.

Thiksey Monastery:
About 20 Kms. form Leh, Thiksey is the most beautiful monastery in Ladakh and often a visitors favourite. The 12 story monastery complex contains numerous stupas, statues, Thankas, wall paintings, swords and a large pillar engraved with Buddha's teachings. This Gompa belong to the Gelukpa order and houses a two story (15m) high Maitreya Buddha in the main prayer hall. The roof has a magnificent view of the surrounding valley and villages. This Gompa, like most has an annual festival.

Alchi Monastery:
Click here for more on Alchi Monastery and Village.

Information On Visiting Gompas (Monastery):

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