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Monasteries I Visited During My Trip To Ladakh

By Somreeta Mukherjee

Ladakh offers you an experience of a lifetime and if you love travelling, you can just never say ‘no’ to Ladakh. From beholding the vast stretches of desert in Hunder to feeling adventurous at the highest motorable road at Khardungla Pass (at 17582 ft), from witnessing heavenly bliss in the azure Pangong lake (at an elevation of 14270 ft) surrounded by the tawny mountains to visiting the last Indian village-Turtuk, lying secluded in its idyllic beauty, on the banks of Shyok river; Ladakh has so much to offer while quenching the thirst of a wanderer. However, the gompas or the Buddhist monasteries have a different flavour to offer, while you partake of the natural beauty of Ladakh. My today’s post is solely dedicated to my experience of visiting some of the most beautiful monasteries during my Leh-Ladakh trip.

 

LAMAYURU MONASTERY

This gompa is lesser known to conventional tourists, because of its distant location. Tourists hardly visit this ancient gompa or even if they pay a visit, hardly do they put up for the night at Lamayuru. However, we not only went to Lamayuru monastery, we even stayed in the monastery guest house that night.

One of the most ancient and largest gompas in Ladakh, its history is known to date back to the 11th century. Seng-ge-sgang, the ancient temple, is located at the southern end of this monastery.

Situated amidst the moonland, the terrain is breathtaking and the primordial flavour of this monastery is evident in its structure, its architecture and the stillness that prevails everywhere.

 

HEMIS MONASTERY

This Himalayan Buddhist gompa is located around 40-45 km from Leh. The entrance leads to a huge courtyard and its walls surrounding the courtyard have beautiful decorations and religious paintings all over.

It has a library and also a museum with precious collection of statues and stupas and books. It is a wonderful experience visiting this monastery. The best part is that it is surrounded by high mountains and rocky terrains all around and the moment you step into the courtyard, you get to bask in a warm sunshine while the chilly mountainous wind caresses your cheeks.

 

SHEY PALACE/ SHEY MONASTERY

The Shey Monastery has a 39-feet statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, covering 3 floors of this gompa. The walls have beautiful paintings, murals and decorations. The gigantic statue can be seen at three levels.

The Shey Palace is situated on the hills and it offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Ladakhi terrains, all around.

 

THIKSEY MONASTERY

Located on the top of a hill, Thikse Monastery or Thiksey Gompa is a Tibetian-style monastery that’s the largest monastery in central Ladakh. It houses many precious items of Buddhist culture and art, like statues, wall paintings, stupas, swords and thangkas.

The 49-feet statue of Maitreya Buddha is awe-inspiring. Paying a visit to this monastery is an experience in itself and since you have to climb many flights of stairs, it’s a time-taking affair too. But taking a close look at the serene face of Buddha has a calming effect on the mind like never before.

Also, if you are lucky enough, you can get to taste a cup of amazing butter tea in the monastery premises!

 

DISKIT MONASTERY

The grand 106-feet tall statue of Maitreya Buddha in colours resplendent, faces the Shyok River towards Pakistan and it stands tall in the cold desert stretches of Ladakh, surrounded by mountains on all sides. It is one of the largest and oldest Buddhist monasteries in the Nubra Valley. The statue has become one of the major tourist attractions and is iconic of Ladakh. Dalai Lama consecrated it in 2010 and the statue in known to signify Diskit Village’s protection, prevention of battles and war with Pakistan and finally, promotion of peace.

The monastery complex is decorated with wall paintings and frescos and there are numerous exquisite deities and shrines inside the monastery. A variety of Tibetian and Mongolian religious scriptures and texts are preserved here.

 

This Buddhist trail in Ladakh leaves memories permanently etched in our heart and mind. To make the most of your Ladakh trip, you must not miss visiting these beautiful ancient gompas.

 

P.S. Most of the pictures used in this post are clicked by me.

However, some of the pictures used here may have been clicked by my cousins- Mr Kaushik Bhattacharya and Ms Swagata Chatterjee.

 

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