Famous Monasteries in Ladakh
Buddhism in Ladakh is ancient and widespread and a popular theme for cultural tours in Ladakh. The population of Ladakh is predominantly Buddhist and Ladakh has been deeply influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, which follows the Mahayana and Vajrayana schools. There are about 35 Buddhist monasteries spread across the region which thrives on donations made by tourists and the local people of the region but now the government plans to develop these monasteries. Some of the popular Monasteries are mentined here.
Chamba Temple. Dedicated to ‘future Buddha or Maitreya’, a reincarnation of Buddha, this temple is located on the road up to Leh Palace. It was built by King Tragspa Bumde in 15th Century.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa. This majestic monastery was founded by King Tashi Namgyal in 1430 AD. Located behind the Leh Palace, this monastery offers the view of the whole countryside. It is renowned for its three-storey high solid gold idol of Maitreya Buddha. The monastery boasts of a rich collection of ancient manuscripts and wall paintings. There are a number of other small temples within the complex.
Soma Gompa. It is a small gompa built in the main bazaar. It’s open throughout the day for visitors and houses a statue of the crowned Buddha.
Spituk Gompa. This monastery is located in village spituk, at a distance of appx 8 kms from Leh. The monastery dates back to 11th century coming in by air.
Thiksey Monastery is located at a distance of 18 kms from Leh. The monastery founded in 1430 AD, has 80 monks residing here. The complex houses various important Buddhist artifacts such as swords, tapestries, thangkas and statues.
Phyang monastery is located 40 kms to the west of Leh. It was established in 1515 and houses ancient thangkas, wall-paintings and murals of Mahakala. There is also a museum inside the monastery, which has 900 year old collections of idols, thankas, Chinese/Mongolian and Tibetan firearms and weapons. The festival of Gang-Sngon Tsedup is held every year where monks dance to the beats of sacred drums.
Karma Dupgyud Choeling.
Karma Dupgyud Choeling monastery is run by Karmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhdhism; the monastery works to propagate Buddhist culture and takes in many followers who wish to study Buddhism or learn about it.
Sankar Gompa is located at a walking distance of only 3 kms from Leh. This is the official residence of the Ladakhi Head Lama Kushok Bakula of the Gelukpa Sect. The complex some 20 buildings, beautifully painted with wood-works and rich engravings.
Hemis monastery is located 47 kms from Leh town. Famous for its Hemis festival, this monastery is considered the biggest and the wealthiest of monasteries in all of Ladakh. You can see the colours of Buddhism in full splendor here. The monastery has rich collection of ancient relics. Hemis is also famous for the scroll “Life of Isa” made famous by Nicholas Notovitch in 1887 when he came across it during his visit to Leh.
This magnificent shanti stupa was built by a Japanese Buddhist Organisation named “Japanese for World Peace” to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and world peace. It is the biggest stupa in Ladakh. It is the best stop to witness sunrise and sunset in Leh. It is even more beautiful when illuminated with lights during the night.
A small mosque built near Main square of the city, it is frequented by Sunni Muslim population of Leh. It certainly provides a change in view from Buddhist monasteries.
Gurudwara Patthar Sahib .
The Gurudwara Patthar Sahib was built in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev. It lies on the outskirts of City of Leh on Kargil road. This place is revered both by Buddhists and Hindus alike. It gets its name from age-old legends of stone boulders found here with footprints and silhouette of a guru meditating, engraved in it.