Famous Monasteries of Leh

Likir Monastery

5 km north of Alchi and 52 km from Leh, the Likir monastery was established in the 11th century by a sect known as Klu-Kkhjil (water spirits). Later, in the 15th century it was rededicated to another monastic order (the yellow sect). The gompa that stands today is not the original one as it was destructed in the fire. The present gompa was reconstructed in the 18th century and houses huge clay images of Lord Buddha. Apart from it, other belongings of the monastery include several old manuscripts, a rich collection of Thankas, old religious and domestic costumes. A yearly festival by the name of Likir festival is celebrated here from the 17th to 19th of the twelfth month of the Buddhist calander.

Spituk Monastery

Around 18 km from Leh, on a hill overlooking the Indus river stand the Spituk (exemplary) monastery. The monastery was named by Rinchen Zangpo, the Great Translator whose efforts spread Buddhism in Ladakh. The Spituk monastery stores a collection of Buddhist artifacts and is quiet famous for the Spituk festival. The festival is celebrated from the 17th to 19th days of the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar.

Thiksey Monastery

Thikse Gompa, of the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect, is around 19 kms to the East of the main city of Leh. The architecture of the largest monastery in central region of Ladakh, is similar to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This 12-storey building complex consists of a number of things related to Buddhist art such as Thangka paintings, statues, stupas, swords, and so on. The building also has a nunnery.

A major tourist attraction is the Maitreya temple installed in 1970. The statue of future Lord Buddha in this temple of 49 feet high, which is also the largest in the region.

Stakna Monastery

Stakna Gompa or Stakna Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located approximately 45 km from Leh. Enshrined by Chose Jamyang, a Bhutanese saint and scholar who established the monastery in the second half of the 16th century, this gompa is a visual display of the religious and cultural heritage of India and Buddhism. As it is erected on a hill looking like a tiger’s nose, Stanka Monastery derives its name from the same hill. The monastery inside has the image of Arya Avaloketesvara from Kamrup (Assam). The Stakna Gompa belongs to the Dugpa sect of Buddhism and is the residence of about 30 Monks.

On entering the courtyard, there is a big assembly hall known as Dukhang whose walls are adorned with beautiful paintings of Sakyamuni, Tsephakmad and Amchi. On to the right of courtyard, there is a seven feet tall silver gilded chorten having figure of Lord Buddha with some notes. Then parallel to the hall there are paintings of Bodhisattva, Tshong-san-Gompa and Padma Sambhava.

The successive reincarnations of Stakna Tulku serve as the incumbents of Stakna Monastery and they spread the teachings of Dugpa order. This monastery also has a number of sister monasteries, 3 of which are in Zanskar-Bardan, Stakrimo and Sani.

From the roof of Stakna Monastery tourists can have a striking view of Indus valley and river. There is also a Tathok Monastery nearby Stakna, an attraction 50km from Leh where Guru Padmashmbhava mediated.

Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery, 40 kms towards the south-east of the main city of Leh is the largest as well as the most well-known monastery (Gompa) in Ladakh. This monastery was built by under the reigns of the King Singge Namgyal, in 1672 AD. This monastery plays host to an annual festival that is held in the month of which is also a major tourist attraction. This colorful day-long festival is called Hemis Tsechu which is also a state holiday. During the course of the festival, the local resident Lamas perform a holy masked dance to glorify the victory of good over bad. Today it is taken care off by the Drukpa sect of Buddhism. The monastery has beautiful paintings and a statue of Lord Buddha, which are the highlights too.

Samstanling Monastery

Placed in the Sumlur village of the Nubra valley region, Samstanling Monastery was founded 140 years back in 1841 by Lama Tsultim Nima. 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.

Alchi Monastery

Alchi Monastery or Alchi Gompa (monastery and temple complex), Leh on the banks of the Indus river. Alchi is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist centers in Ladakh and also as the monastic jewels of Ladakh. The Alchi monastery dates back to nearly one thousand years and so the effect of the Tibetan influence can be seen in the local culture. There are five shrines in the Choskor temple complex which has some splendid wall paintings. One of its walls features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. Three large sized images made of clay painted brightly are its focal attraction.