7 Ladakh Monasteries You Just Cannot Miss


Ladakh, the gorgeous high desert of India is home to many Buddhist monasteries. They are structures of architectural marvel and are abundant in number. It is no wonder that the land of high passes is also called the Mini Tibet of the country. When you do brave the tough terrain, you must make your way through to these monasteries. Here are the 7 Ladakh Monasteries You Just Cannot Miss.

Phugtal Monastery:

Situated in southern Zanskar, the Phugtal Monastery is nestled in Lungnak Valley. A remote trail on the high cliff takes you to the beautiful monastery. Not just the structure, but the view it offers is breathtaking. You can get a sweeping view of the Lungnak River and lush green scenery. To top it up, there is a cave formed naturally within the space. A renowned center of meditation, the center has a library and four prayer rooms. You can get as close as the Ichar village by your ride, and then walk it up to the monastery. Don’t forget to briefly halt at Anmu, Chaa, and Padum during your visit.

Block your calendar: July to September

Phugtal Monastery
Pic Credits: Pixabay


Hemis Monastery:

This monastery is synonymous to its annually hosted 2-day Hemis Festival, celebrating the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava, with monks performing dances in colorful masks and robes. The grand celebration is quite a sight with huge thangkas displayed. Lying about 45 kilometers from the beautiful Leh, towards the western bank of River Indus, it can be accessed by taking a ride from Leh. Home to old relics, weapons, and religious paintings, it is one of the most beautiful Ladakh monasteries and is bound to mesmerize tourists by its enchanting beauty.

Block your calendar: June or July during the Hemis festival

Hemis Monastery
Pic Credits: Neeraj Mishra (First Pilgrim)


Thiksey Monastery:

Situated atop a hill on the northern side of the Indus River, this monastery stands beautiful, close to an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet. It contains innumerable shrines, the most famous one being Lakhang  Nyerma of Goddess Dorje Chenmo. Ruins of the shrine along with other sacred relics, scripts, and artifacts can be found within. Another famous installation is the 49-feet tall statue of Buddha. The 12-storeyed building houses over 500 monks. You can easily halt here overnight.

Block your calendar: Mid-April to July or October to March

Thiksey Monastery
Pic Credits: Neeraj Mishra (First Pilgrim)


Shey Monastery:

This is an interesting one. Since the monastery is situated on top of the hill of Shey in Ladakh, it is called the Shey Monastery. If you want to witness the second largest statue of Buddha in the Ladakh monasteries, you must visit this one. It lies towards the southern part of Leh and has the Sitting Buddha idol made of copper and gold. Halt here on your way to the Hemis and Thiksey monasteries.

Block your calendar: July to September, but do check the dates of the Shey Rupla and Shey Loo Doo festivals.

shey Monastery
Pic Credits: Neeraj Mishra (First Pilgrim)


Stakna Monastery:

You must be used to climbing tough hills and cliffs by now. Let’s take you to one of the Ladakh monasteries situated atop a cliff offering scenic views of the Indus valley and mountains around. The Stakna Monastery, also popularly known as Tiger’s Nose, is special in its own way. This small-sized monastery dates back to 1580. It is adorned with the paintings, scriptures, and idols of Buddha, some of which include paintings of Tsephakmad, Sakyamuni, and statues of Arya Avalokiteśvara.

Block your calendar: July to September

Stakna Monastery
Pic Credits: Neeraj Mishra (First Pilgrim)

Chemrey Monastery:

Dating back to 1664, this gorgeous monastery is dedicated to King Sengge Namgyal. It is believed to have been founded by Lama Tagsang Raschen. Gilded scriptures are a striking feature of this place, as are its numerous shrines, Lama temple, and two assembly halls. While planning your visit here, keep the famous annual Chemrey Angchok festival in mind. This festival of sacred dances is held on days 28 and 29 of the 9th month as per the Tibetan calendar.

Block your calendar: The 9th month of the Tibetan calendar.

Chemrey Monastery
Pic Credits: Neeraj Mishra (First Pilgrim)

Hanle Monastery:

Situated in the Hanle Valley of Leh, this monastery is home to the Indian Astronomical Observatory. It sees a few monks on a regular basis with about 2 dozen more walking in on and off. To be specific, it belongs to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. This location-sensitive gompa lies very close to the Tibetan-Chinese border.

Block your calendar: July to September

Hanle Monastery

Published by

Aditi Shukla

Aditi Shukla is a traveller, explorer, soul-searcher and foodie. She loves embarking on new journeys and trying local food along the way, while documenting them on her blog Lyf&Spice (www.lyfandspice.com). She particularly loves exploring the countryside and little towns on foot, and has been nurturing her new found love for hiking for the past few years now. According to her, hiking gives a new perspective to a place and helps to uncover trails and views you would have otherwise not encountered.

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