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Home >> Destinations >> Monasteries in Ladakh

Monasteries in Ladakh

Monasteries, called gompas in Ladakhi and Tibetan, are generally built in relatively isolated spots, often away from and above the village; as the idea of gompa is to provide a retreat where monks can isolate themselves from the world, enabling them to concentrate, undisturbed on meditation and religious studies. Gompa actually means ' solitary place'. Often on the same site as the gompa, can be found man-made caves used for the same purpose in earlier times. As well as a place of worship for both monks and the general population, the gompa also provides a place of residence for the monks. The courtyard of the gompa provides a place o residence for the monks. The courtyard of the gompa provides the villagers with a suitable meeting place as well as a place to hold public religious ceremonies and festivals.

TAK THOG GOMPA
This is the only monastery belonging to the Nyingma.pa order : Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava) is said to have founded the monastery. The temple where he meditated is still to be seen at Tak Thog monastery. The monastery is tacked up in the lap of a rock owes its name to the roof which is not man made but the natural rock. The kangyur Lakhang contains the images of the Buddha with his two chief disciples. On the right is the image of Tse.Pag.med to the left is Heruka. To_Phuk houses the images of Guru_Tsang_gyet (Eight forms of Padma Sambhava). Guru Takpo Tsahi & II haaded Avalokitesvara. Urgyan Photang contains the images of Tul.Khar.Nam.Sum, Chen.ras.zigs (Avalokitesvara), Guru Rinzin Dong_tup & Guru Takpo Tsahl. The new monastery is built on ground level and contains the image of Guru Nang Srith Zilon in a central position and to its right is the image of Guru Dorje Dolo and its left is the image of Guru Padma Gyalpo. There are seats of His Holiness the Dalai Lama & Taklung RIngpoche the letter is the incarnate of the Lama of the monastery. The monastery, holds the two festival in a year. Tak Thong Tse Chu is held from the 9th to the 11th days of the 6th Tibetan month and the second viz. Tak THog Wangchog is helf from the 26th to 29th days of the Tibetan month.

LIKIR GONPA
Lu_Khyil (water spirits circled) popularly known as likir gompa owes its name to the Nagas (water spirits) who once lived there. It is another important Ge.lung.pa monastery in Ladakh. Lachen Gyalpo, the fifth king of Ladakh is said to have offered to Lama Duwang Chosje, a great master of meditation, the land for building a monastery in 1065. This monastery joined the Gelugpa order in the 15th century. The Du_Khang (Assembly Hall) contains Mar.me.Zat, Shakyamuni, and Maitreya (Buddhas of the Past, present and future) an imposing statue of Tsong.Kha.Pa and Kangyur and Tangyur. In Nyenes Khang are the life like paintings of the Tung_Shak ( The thirty five confessional Buddhas and Nas.Tan.Chu.Tuk, sixteen arahats. The Gon.Khang houses the statue of Se.Ta.Pa an imposing protective deity of the monastery and yamantaka. Likir Dos_mo_che, the annual festival of the monastery is held from 27 to 29th of the 12th Tibetan month.

THIKSEY MONASTERY
This large gompa is impressive sight, situated on top a craggy hill while the rest of the complex sprawls down beneath it. It was founded in the 15th century by Gelukpa monks. The temple on the right of the courtyard houses a 15 metre statue of the Maitreya or future Buddha, which was finished in 1981, while at the back of the Dukhang there is a Buddha statue dating from 15th century. The monks and helpful and friendly and the whole gompa is well cared of.

STAKNA
This Kagyupa gompa is located in a commanding position on its own plug of rock in the centre of the Indus Valley. It lies between Hemis and Matho and is reached by taking the bumpy road that runs along the left (W) HEMIS MONASTERY This monastery has become famous because of its spectacular annual festival. The gompa was founded in the 17th century and is sometimes called Chang Chub Sang Ling, ’the solitary place of compassionate ones it belongs to Kagyupa sect. You can see impressive image of Guru Padmasambhava which is in a temple behind the Dukhang (the temple on the right). This huge statue is 12 metres high and was completed in 1984.

MATHO MONASTERY
This is the only Sakyapa gompa in Ladakh and has become famous for its annual festival, during which specially chosen monks become the vehicle for an oracle. For several days they answer people’s questions and predict the following year’s events while in trance. Occasionally their superhuman powers are put to the test. They have been known to sprint along the thin outer wall of the gompa and over the roofs without falling and have been seen cut their mouths and hands with knives until they bleed profusely; the next morning there are no scars to be found. The monastery has a tiny museum which is worth seeing. It contains stuffed yak, olds masks, skulls and costumes that are used at the festival. Right at the top of the gompa there’s are the highly revered Rooms of the Oracles. Women are not allowed into this tiny room and photographs must not be taken. The monastery is situated at the foot of the Stok Mountains midway between Hemis and Stok.

SHEY
This was the old capital and the home of the kings of Ladakh before the new capital became established in Leh. The palace sits in a strategic position on a spur jutting out into the Indus Valley. The main temple contains large Buddha Statue sculpted by Nepalese craftsmen. The top of the Palace is reached by some very dilapidated steps and from here there are wonderful views across to Stok and Spituk, and also of the hundreds of stupas on the desert to the north-east.

STOK
This has been the royal palace since the king was dethroned by the Dogras and is now the home of the last king’s widow. There’s an interesting museum that contains an odd collection of exhibits including the king’s tea cup holder, the queen’s turquoise head-dress, some armour and a stuffed yak.

RIZONG MONASTERY
Rizong is an unique monastery of Gelugpa order, situated 76 km from Leh at an altitude of 3450m above sea level. It is hidden behind overlaping mountains that echo the folds of the monks robes that inhabit the monastery. Rizong was founded in 1833 by the great religious and social reformer Lama Tsaltim Nyima (1796 - 1872) :"Ri" meaning "mountain" , "zong" meaning "haven" . The temples, kichen and monks cells are built according to rules laid down in the VInaya (monastic discipline) taught by Lord Buddha. The skudung was first temple built, containing the cave where Lama Tsultim Nyima meditated for many years and which can still be seen. It now houses stupa containing his relics.

LAMAYURU MONASTERY
The gompa at Lamayuru presents perhaps the most spectuacular view of any gompa in Ladakh. The gompa, perched majestivally on the top of a hermit's cave-pocked sheer cliff-face, overlooks the scenic valley and moonscape. Yungdrung Gompa, as Lamayuru Gompa is more properly known is thought to have its origins in the pre-Buddhist era, as a holy site of the animistic Bon religion. It is also considered to be the olderst monastic site in Ladakh.