Monasteries are the ideal place to visit for meditation or inner calm. People of Tibetan progeny occupy Ladakh with their very rich Buddhist culture. There are so many beautiful monasteries in that high-altitude cold desert that you will be surprised by visiting their architecture and history. The monasteries in Ladakh showcase the ancient culture & artistry of the Tibetian people. To the visitors, the monasteries in Ladakh truly testify to the living heritage of the Buddha and, of course, to the visitors. Ancient scriptures, murals, thangkas imprison the attention of the visitors. And all of this, amidst snow-capped mountain peaks, amazing natural beauty, and fresh air! A visit to the Ladakh monasteries works double-dose for city dwellers who miss staying close to nature.
Here is the list of ten such marvels and monasteries in Ladakh that you must visit to get a philosophical experience.
It is one of the largest and most popular monasteries in Ladakh. It is situated on the western banks of the Indus River. Excellent statues of Buddha, fine illustration, stupas, and a great collection of pure thangkas embellish the monastery. Dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava, the most important festival celebrated on the 9th and 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar is the Hemis Festival, known for mask dance. It is located 45 kilometers southeast of Leh on the Leh-Manali highway. From Leh, it can take around one & a half hours by private cab.
Undoubtedly, Thiksey Monastery is one of the beautiful Monasteries in Ladakh, located 19 kilometers south of Leh. Looking like the Potala Palace of Lhasa in Tibet, this 12 storied monastery is structured with ten temples with many precious collections of Buddhist books, statues, stupas, swords, and thangka paintings. The main prayer hall of this monastery houses a 40-foot statue of Lord Buddha. The Thiksey Gustor Festival is celebrated during the 17th to 19th of the 9th month of the Tibetan calendar, where inhabited monks and nuns perform the sacred mask or Cham dances. Frequent bus service and private cabs are available to reach there.
Located just 8 kilometers southwest of Leh, Spituk Monastery is surrounded by a conical hill with three chapels. The housing of around 100 monks, Spituk Monastery, consists of ancient memorials, idols, statues, and religious scriptures. Dedicated to Vajrabhairava Deity, a temple is only accessible to visitors during the Spituk Festival and the sacred idol of Amitayus. The Spituk Festival is celebrated in the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar with the masked dance performance of resident monks. The car or bus service is always available to reach there, about 11 minutes from the main city center.
Alchi Monastery is one of the famous & oldest monasteries in Ladakh. Located 60 kilometers west of Leh on the banks of the Indus River, Alchi Monastery is known for its old-age paintings and fine murals, and lavish woodwork. This monastery comprises three structures - Dukhang, Sum-tsek, and the temple of Manjushri and boasts of archaic sculptures, books, paintings, and figurines. The paintings of this monastery have achieved worldwide recognition as masterpieces of Buddhist artistry and religion. It is about 3.4 kilometers from Leh Airport and can be reached there via private cab or bus in around 1 hour 20 minutes.
Phyang Monastery is just 15 or 16 kilometers west of Leh. Being located on a hilltop, the views of surroundings are very stunning & beautiful. It is one of Ladakh's earliest monasteries, with a 900-year-old museum housing a vast collection of idols, firearms, weapons, old thangkas, wall paintings, and murals of Mahakala. It also imparts modern education to its students along with Buddhist studies. The Phyang Tseruk Festival is celebrated on the 2nd & 3rd of the 6th month of the Tibetan calendar, and with spectacular Cham dance, many tourists are attracted. From Leh, a private cab takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to reach out there.