Monasteries in Ladakh
February 15, 2023
Ladakh is an amazing place with many things to offer. Besides its breathtaking landscapes, beautiful skies, and rich culture, Ladakh is also home to some of the oldest and most beautiful Buddhist monasteries in the world.
Monasteries in Ladakh, especially Buddhist monasteries are great places to visit. Not only are they historical monuments that can teach us a lot but they are also, in their essence, deeply moving and spiritual experiences that can change us fundamentally and in profound ways.
Here are some monasteries in Ladakh that you must visit
1. Samstanling Monastery
This is one of the best Monasteries in Ladakh. Located in Sumur in Nubra Valley, Samstanling is about 170 years old monastery that also houses a monastic school. The monastery has two prayer halls for meditation and welcomes tourists from all over the world. Don’t be surprised if you discover old Buddhist carvings, paintings, tankas & other relics.
To experience the holiness of this place, Lchang Nang Retreat conducts Mindfulness & Yoga sessions at Samstanling Monastery. This mystic & mindful experience offers you a chance to reconnect with yourself.
2. Ensa Monastery
One of the hidden gems of Nura Valley is the Ensa Monastery, also in Sumur. It is an important monument, both in terms of history and Buddhism. It is located on a large rock which affords great views of the valleys all around it. According to lore, it was atop this rock that Sherab Zangpo, a famous Buddhist disciple, once meditated.
In 1430, a Buddhist Monastery was raised on this spot, and has since become one of the most important sites in Ladakh. One of the curiosities about this site is that it contains a perfectly formed footprint on a rock. It is a mystery as to how this was made as there are no marks or evidence of any tool used to make it.
3. Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey is possibly the most popular monastery in Ladakh. You must have seen the picture of a huge 49-foot Buddha statue. This statue was built here and now adorns the Thiksey Monastery.
Thiksey is modeled after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect members look after this monastery, which is tucked away at an elevation of 11,800 feet. More than 500 monks are housed there in a series of buildings with a 12-story height. A sizable and priceless collection of Thangka paintings, statues, inscriptions, stupas, and Buddhist texts can be found at the Thiksey monastery in Ladakh.
4. Diskit Monastery
Yet another very popular monastery, and it can even be called “aesthetic” by Gen-Z. The white exterior shines differently than the backdrop of dry mountain ranges.
There are several monasteries in Ladakh where you can stay, but this one is amongst the best. Diskit, one of the most stunning and historic Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh, was established in the fourteenth century by Changzem Tsera Zangpo and is situated in the stunning Nubra Valley. It is a part of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and contains numerous Buddha statues, pictures of other protector gods, and a massive drum. This well-known monastery in Ladakh gives solemn tranquillity and spiritual peace because of its stunning surroundings.
5. Likir Monastery
Lama Duwang Chosje founded Likir Monastery, also known as Likir Gompa, in the fourteenth century. This is the first building that the Tibetan monks built, by Buddhist lore. Numerous Tibetan antiques and relics are shown in the monastery’s museum and much can be learned about Buddhism from these artefacts.
Likir Monastery is popular for its picturesque location. And nothing is more fascinating than a spot that offers good clicks. You should pay a visit next time you are in Leh.
6. Hemis Monastery
Hemis monastery, tucked up in the highlands and hidden from the main road, serves as the spiritual hub of the Drukpa lineage, sometimes known as the “Red Hat sect.” The largest and richest monastery in Ladakh is known as Hemis Gompa. Stag Tsang Raspa established it in the 1630s with the support of King Singge Namgyal.
Buddhist gods and goddesses are depicted in ancient statues and thangkas in the museum at Hemis monastery. The museum shop sells trinkets, artwork, postcards, wooden figurines, and other objects for tourists to buy.
7. Phuktal Monastery
Although Zanskar has a reputation for being a “country of religion,” there are fewer monasteries there than in central Ladakh. The gompas there are fewer in number, but they make up for it with their astounding age. If you can make a detour to Zanskar, Phuktal is worth a visit.
If you are going to Ladakh to visit monasteries, the best place to stay is undoubtedly Lchang Nang – The House of Trees. It is located in Tiger Village, next to Sumur, and is the perfect base from where you can plan your trips to various monasteries. The atmosphere and vibration of Lchang Nang Resort are also conducive to a spiritual trip. The resort is very mindful of its guest’s needs but also about Cultural Sustainability in Ladakh and the Ecological Conservation of the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How many monasteries are there in Ladakh?
Ans. There are upwards of a hundred monasteries in Ladakh. Some experts have counted a total of 109 monasteries including a few that were built recently. Amongst the most famous are: Hemis Monastery, Thiksey Monastery, Diskit Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Lamayuru Monastery, Phugtal Monastery, Spituk Monastery, Likir Monastery and many more.
Q2. What are the monasteries in Ladakh called?
Ans. Monasteries are called “Gompas” in Ladakh. Gompas (meaning “solitary places” in Ladakhi) are places of worship, where monks or lamas, offer prayers in accordance with ancient traditions and norms.
Q3. Can we stay in the monasteries of Ladakh?
Ans. Yes. In many of the monasteries, guests are allowed to stay whereas in some monasteries, guests can also take classes in Buddhism and live there for extended periods as monks or as monks in training.
Q4. What is the biggest monastery in Ladakh?
Ans. The Hemis Monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh. It lies about 50 Kms southeast of Leh.