India has its own heaven, named Leh – Ladakh. Resting in the lap of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, i.e. the Great Himalayas and the Karakoram, the beauty of the place is too immense to be expressed. It can only be experienced. It is the perfect travel destination, be it for the solo travelers or the love birds or the spiritual seekers. Of the innumerable things to do, out there in the beautiful landscape, let us talk about the holy attraction in Ladakh today: The Monasteries.
There are countless monasteries in Ladakh. While some are just remnants now, others have become centres of educational and religious learning. The structures have also turned ‘eye-candies’ for the tourists who are mesmerised by their architectural designs.
Ah! I know I know ! The young blood out there, must be thinking why should we talk about monasteries and prayers and monks when we are on a vacation! Accepted! But just hold your breath and traverse with me. Traverse to experience the magnificence and grandeur of these sacred sites. Come and savour the ancient Buddhist culture.
[The most famous trek in Ladakh – Chadar trek]
The Monastery With A View: Spituk Gompa
Ladakh justifies being called as the land of monks and monasteries. Of the many beautiful ones set in the scenic landscape, Spituk stands ‘high’. It is one of the most splendid monasteries in the region. It sits on a hill-top. And as beautiful as it could be, the scenic beauty is going to leave you awestruck! So all the youngsters who were sulking at the mention of a ‘monastery’, what say now guys? Game for it? There is so much more to come. Sit back and read on…
Ladakh : Spituk Gompa
Make peace with peace: Namgyal Monastery
A recent fight? A churning heartbreak? Read Dalai Lama to find peace? Why not visit where he visited? Yes! Dalai Lama has been here. The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa or the Namgyala Monastery is particularly famous for the Buddha statue it hosts. The best part about this place is that it allows the volunteers to stay and help with the daily chores, while enjoying a few peaceful days. Nice way to move out of the bad memories! Isn’t it?
[An offbeat and cultural trek in Ladakh: Homestay Chadar trek]
Enjoy a masked face: Hemis Monastery
So, what could be more exciting than being under a mask for a while! Isn’t a getaway from yourself, for a while, worthwhile? The Hemis Monastery is the biggest Gompa in Ladakh. It is the most celebrated one too! Because it is here that the famous annual Hemis festival takes place in July. This is one event which draws scores of tourists’ attraction. The ‘Masked Parade’ is the ‘show-stopper’ and is marked as one of the sacred rituals here. During the course of the festival, the local resident Lamas perform a holy masked dance to glorify the victory of good over evil. The Monastery hold this festival on the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month called as Tse Chu, to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is believed to be a reincarnation of Buddha. All set for a masked dance? Wait, guys! The more amazing is yet to come!
[A trip to Ladakh covering Hemis Monastery]
Ladakh : Celebrations at Hemis
Behold The ‘Movie-Like’ Night Sky: Lamayuru Monastery
“I promise to get you that star”, “Oh, just like this moon, you light up my life”, etc. etc. Ever been the lover who made such promises under the vast sky? Ever been lost in the thoughts of where we get the perfect night sky, as we witness in the movies? Well, well. Here we finally are! The view of the night sky is a must, when seen from the Lamayuru Monastery. This place finally, gives you the opportunity to lay on the green grass and gaze the sky. Enjoy star-gazing like never before. In for a star counting? Come on! Let’s start. I am going to beat you in this!
P.S: To get the maximum from the monastery, plan your trip in sync with the time of shooting stars in the area! And get blown away by its beauty!
[Experience Lamayuru: Leh Ladakh bike trip]
Get Awed By The Art: Likir Monastery
The splendid wood work calls you now! Get mesmerised by the colourful paintings on brown wood! This is possibly the best non-Buddhist thing about this monastery. What follows is the museum that caters to the history of the Ladakh region. The picturesque surroundings add to the advantage of the unending beauty of the place.
Peek into yourself: Shanti Stupa
Bored of the everyday schedule? Stressed? Okay! Here’s the solution. Visit the famous Shanti Stupa and invoke some thoughts to look into yourself! This place provides the best spot for some introspection. The night-time view is even more breathtaking and a little meditation besides the Stupa might help you unleash the hidden best in you.
Get Blessed By A Small boy: Samstanling Monastery
The Monastery is 124 km from Leh and serves to more than 50 monks with the daily needs.The place is to be found in the middle of pleasant scenic beauty and is surrounded by traditional hues of Gold, Red Ocher and white.
The entrance of the Monastery is lined with religious flags and the inside halls are lined with wall paintings representing Buddha and his lectures, Dharamchakra, the Four Heavenly Kings and the other facts of Buddhism.
At the entrance of the monastery tourists are welcomed by a 7 year old young boy who blesses all the followers with great solemnity and also tie threads on their wrist.
So, ready for a lil priest? Be a sport!
Meet Shakyamuni Buddha: Shey Monastery
The major attraction in the monastery is a huge gold-plated copper statue of seated Shakyamuni Buddha, which is also the second largest statue in Ladakh. In front of the statue, is a large wax bowl with a flame, which continuously lighted for a year, after which it is replaced.
Interesting, huh? What are you waiting for then? I am going to be there first! Beat me?
Besides these, there are some other beautiful monasteries:
- Thiksey Monastery
- Diskit Gompa
Best Time To visit
April to July is one of the best times of the year to visit Leh. The sun shines bright and keeps the day temperatures warm.
You can now book your trip to Ladakh here, by clicking Experience Ladakh
About the Author
Ipsita is an economist by profession and writer by passion. She has found solace in travelling. It is a part of her very existence as she gets to meet new people, do crazy things and above all, discover herself in the process. And also check out her blog, Withouthorizon.