Ladakh has a surreal beauty that allures and fascinates everyone. The monasteries in Ladakh are breathtaking and enchanting structures that have stood timeless for ages and showcase the culture, history and tradition of the Buddhists. Here are the top 5 monasteries in Ladakh that you must visit on your vacation here.
1) Thiksey Monastery
Snuggled at an altitude of 11,800 feet, amongst the monasteries in Ladakh, Thiksey monastery is known for its wonderful architecture, spectacular views and holy importance. It is a smaller version of the Potala Palace of Lhasa in Tibet with ten temples dotting its slopes and is almost 12 storeys high. The monastery belongs to Gelukspan or the Yellow Hat order. Thiksey has a large and precious collection of Buddhist books, journals, statues, scripts, stupas, swords and Thangka paintings.
Key attractions of Thiksey Monastery: 49 ft statue of Maitreya Buddha- largest in entire Ladakh and Dukhang Karmo– a long assembly hall
2) Hemis Monastery
Hemis Monastery is the biggest and richest monastery in Leh Ladakh. It boasts of a spectacular copper statue of Buddha and beautiful paintings, Stupas, articles, and amazing Thangkas depicting various aspects of Buddhist culture. This is one of the most charming Buddhist monasteries in Leh Ladakh, managed and run by the Drukpa sect of Buddhism. The monastery is most famous for its annual festival, Hemis festival which is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava and is famous for its colorful dances with masks, vibrant rituals and excellent ambience.
Key attractions of Hemis Monastery: 12m long Thanka- which is largest in Ladakh and the Hemis Festival – celebrated during June-July.
3) Spituk Monastery
Built on the side of a hill, the Spituk Monastery also known as the Spituk Gompa was founded in the 11th century by Od-lde as a monastic community. One of the majestic monasteries in Ladakh, Spituk Monastery is located 8 km along the Indus River Valley from Leh. Spituk has three-chapels namely Stok, Sankar and Saboo and consists of ancient memorials, idols, frescoes, statues and religious scriptures. The monastery also has some great collections of age-old ancient masks, sacred clothing and a spectacular image of Mahakal.
Key attractions of Spituk Monastery: A temple dedicated to Vajrabhairava Deity, which accessible to visitors only during Gustor Festival and sacred idol of Amitayus.
4) Phyang Monastery
Nestled on the top of a hill, the Phyang Monastery is situated around 15 kilometers west of Leh. The tranquil environment of the monastery and beautiful ambience provides visitors a great peace of mind and soul. The monastery has a 900-year-old museum housing a vast collection of idols, firearms and weapons, old thangkas, wall paintings and murals of Mahakala. It belongs to the Dri-gung-pa sect of Buddhism.
Key attractions of Phyang Monastery: Gang-Sngon Tsedup Festival, and Sacred Phyang Tseruk Dance Festival – spectacular Cham dance as highlight.
5) Diskit Monastery
Located in the beautiful Nubra Valley, this 350 years old monastery is one of the most beautiful and the popular Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh. Diskit Monastery is enveloped by the verdant landscapes and high hill peaks providing solemn serenity and inner peace. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect (Yellow Hat) of Tibetan Buddhism and has various Buddha statues, images of other guardian Gods, and a huge drum. The Morning Prayer ceremony in the monastery is not to be missed.
Key attractions of Diskit Monastery: Festival of Scapegoat or Dosmoche festival, mask dance during the festival, and Jampa Buddha statue.