Hemis  |  Thiksey  |  Taktok  |  Matho  |  Spituk  |  Phyang  |  Likir  | Alchi  | Rizong  |  Lamayuru  | 
Stok  |  Bardan |  Karsha  |  Phuktal  |  Rangdum  |  Sani  |  Tonde  |  Zangla

There are about 35 Buddhist Monasteries or Gompas in Ladakh spread across the entire region. The central area of Ladakh has the greatest concentration of major Gompas.

Monasteries in Ladakh may be either of the Mahayana or the Hinayana sect of Buddhism. The head lama is called a 'kushak', meaning reincarnation. The monasteries of Ladakh are what give the region its unique flavor and beauty. Typically, most gompas are built so that they perch precariously on lone rocks or craggy mountain-faces.

Some precautions to be observed while visiting a monastery:

  • Visitors are required to take off their shoes before entering a prayer area
  • Observe local dress codes, such as wearing clothing that covers your limbs
  • Do not disturb Monks at prayer, and always ask permission before taking photographs
  • Do not touch religious artifacts
  • Do not drink, smoke, take drugs or spit in the monastery premises
  • Avoid talking loudly or disturbing the peaceful atmosphere
  • Most Monasteries in Ladakh charge an admission fee of about Rs. 25 to 50. If a fee is not charged, it is considered appropriate to leave a donation for the maintenance of the monastery
  • In many Monasteries, you are expected to walk around the premises only in a clockwise direction.
  • Women may not be allowed to enter the inner prayer rooms of some monasteries in Ladakh

Hemis Monastery The Hemis Monastery in Ladakh founded in 17th century is one of the most famous and largest of all monasteries in Ladakh, 45 Kms south of Leh. the monastery was founded by Stagsang Raschegn who was invited to Ladakh by king Singee Namgyal. The king offered him religious estates and attended him as his principal guru. Hemis Tsechu (festival) assemble annually from 9th to 11th day of the 5th Tibetan month. The Gompa has well preserved Thankas and copper gilt statue of the lord Buddha, various stupas made of gold and silver and many auspicious objects. The largest thanka in Ladakh over 12 Mtrs. Long is at Hemis.one of the most famous one mainly due to its spectacular annual festival. Having the royal patronage of King Sengge Namgyal, Hemis soon became the largest and the richest of Ladakhs Gompas. Hemis is sometimes called Chang Chub Sang Ling, ‘the solitary place of the compassionate ones’; it belongs to the Kagyupa sect. The village and gompa lie tucked up a side valley south-west of Karu. Around 42kms.

Thiksey Monastery The monastery is one of the largest in Ladakh. This gompa is an impressive one situated on top of a craggy hill while the rest of the complex sprawls down beneath it. It was founded in 15th century by Gelukpa monks and houses more then 500 monks.

The temple on the right of the courtyard houses 15 meter 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 the 15th century.

Thiksey monastery celebrates its GUSTOR two months in advance, 17th to 19th day of the 12th month. There are chance to see prayer in the early morning.

Tak Tok (Thak Thak / Tak Thog) means ‘rock roof’ is located around 46 Km from Leh, Takthok monastery in Ladakh was a meditation cave of mahasidhas "Kunga Phuntsog". Later, it started calling Takthok (rock roof) monastery. The festival of Takthok held on the 28th and 29th days of the 9th month. This is the only monastery in Ladakh of the Nyingmapa sect, the oldest Tibetan order.

Matho Monastery Gompa is 26 Kms south of Leh on the opposite bank of Indus river, belongs to saskya order, founded about five hundred year ago by Lama Dunpa Dorjey. The festival called " Matho Nagrang" takes place every year on the 14th and 15th days of the 1st Tibetan month.

This is the only Saskya-pa gompa in Ladakh, is 26 Kms south of Leh on the opposite bank of Indus river, one of the last Red Hat sects to be founded about five hundred year ago by Lama Dunpa Dorjey in Tibet. The monastery in Ladakh is situated on a hill in a lateral ravine of the Stok-Khnagri range across Indus. It is believed to be around 500 years old and now has a resident community of about 60 monks.

The monastery has become famous for its annual festival, during which specially chosen monks become the vehicle for an Oracle. ‘MATHO NAGRANG’ the annual festival is held on the 14th & 15th day of the 1st Tibetan month, which generally falls during the months of Feb – Mar. For several days they answer people’s questions and predict the following year’s events while in a trance.

Spituk Monastery This was the first Gelukpa (yellow hat) monastery to be established in Ladakh Gompa is on the hill top near Indus, around 18 Kms from Leh. Which was founded in 11th century by Od-De the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub-od, the Gompa named Spituk (exemplary) when Rinchen Zangpo translator came to that place and said that exemplary religious community would rise. Initially it belonged to the Kadampa school then during the life time of king Gragspa Bumide made it Gayluk Pa order. The Spituk festival held every year from 17th to 19th days of the 11th month.

Phyang is 17 Kms west of Leh on the blue hill, belongs to Dingung order, The monastery is located on a small hill above the attractive village and like LAMAYURU belongs to Kagyupa (red hat) order monks. founded in 15th century by Chosje Danma Kunja Dragpa in the time of King Jamjang Namgyal. Phyang monastery is also called Tashi Chosang, which mark the first established of the Dingung to teachings in Ladakh. It’s thought that he was trying to seek forgiveness for blinding his elder brother, a devious act that made him heir to the throne and soon after the king. Annual festival called Phyang.

Likir Monastery As the original structure of the monastery at Likir was destroyed by fire so the building you see today is about 200 years old. The land to monastery was given in 1065. The monks are of Gelukpa order and is under direct charge of ‘Nari Rimpoche’ whose present incarnation is Dalai Lama’s younger brother. The monks of this monastery are also care taker of Alchi gompa and several of the small gompas in the area. There is a small museum with intresting royal artifacts, arms and armour on show.

Located around 52 Kms from Leh, know as Klu-Kkhjil (water spirits) founded in the 14th century by Lama Dhwang Chosje a great champion of meditation. The site of the monastery was encircled by the bodies of two great spent spirits. Therefore, name became widely renowned as Lekir. In the 15th century the disciple of Khasdubje know a lhawang Lodos Sangphu caused the monastery to flourish. This monastery also belongs to Gaylukpa school. Every year from the 17th to 19th of the 12th month the Lekir festival is held.

The CHOSKOR, or religious complex at ALCHI, once a thriving religious center but now deserted, is situated on the bank of river Indus. This is one the most important cultural sites in Ladakh. This 11th century Choskor was founded by Lak-Dan Shas_rab, a Tibetan noble man who accompanied Nyima-Gon into Ladakh.

It’s a treasure trove of early Buddhist art in the Kasmiri tradition, a style quite different from the Tibetan art found in Ladakh’s other gompas.

Rizong is also known as Yuma Changchubling about 73 Kms from Leh and around 6 Kms from main road, founded about 138 years ago by the great Lama Tsultim Nima. Gompa belong to Gelukpa order. Gelukpa monasteries are known for their strict discipline but Rezong is reputed to be the strictest of them all. The monks of the monastery own nothing more than the robes they are wearing and all eat the same food from the gompa kitchen. The Gompa, just over 160 years old, contains little of historical interest but its location in this quite valley is worth a visit. There is a small Chulichan nunnery too.

Lamayuru Monastery Also Known as YUNG-DRUNG or SWASTIKA is one of the immediately striking in Ladakh, The oldest and spectacularly set Lamayuru monastery is about 125 kms. West of Leh, founded in the 10th century in 11th century the Mahasiddha Naropa came to this place. Then Rinchen Zangpo translator came and built many temples and stupas and then teaching of the Kadampa school came to flourish. Later Jamyang Namgyal offered it to Chosje Danma and Digung Kargyut school were introduced and named Yungdrung Therpalling. The Yundrung Kabgyad festival is held on the 28th and 29th days of the 2nd Tibetan month.

Since the King was dethroned by the Dogras the royal family is residing here. There is an interesting museum that contains an odd collection. A visit to Stok Palace is worth a visit. There is small monastery too which belongs to Gurphug, a branch of Spituk monastery.

‘Guru Tse-Chu’ over here is held on 9th & 10th day of the 1st Tibetan month.

The monastery of Bardan can be reached from Padum by trekking four hours down stream. Built on a rock, it towers high above the Tserap Lingti Chu. The monastery belongs to the Drukpa Kagyupa order, the abbot is Stakna Rinpoche. The monastery was founded in the 16th century. Its most important room is the Dukhang, which lies on the ground floor. The shrine on the first floor is dedicated to Maitreya, the Buddha of future ages.

Karsha Monastery The monastery of Karsha lies to the left of the river Doda. From the Tungri bridge, it takes four hours of trekking and three hours by the raft on the doda, to reach it. The monks quarters and temples of this biggest monastery of Zanskar can be seen crawling picturesquely up on a steep mountain slope. The monastery of Karsha belongs to the Gelugpa order and is looked after by Likir. Like in Like, the abbot is a brother of the Dalai Lama. The Chamba Ling temple, which one encounters on the way to the monastery, dates back to the 11th century whereas, the monastery itself was built in the 15th century.

Hiking from Padum via Bardan, Mune and Char through the right side valley of the Tserap Lingti Chu, one reaches, after about three days, the magnificently situated monastery of Phuktal, part of which is hidden in a cave. Phuktal founded in the middle of the 15th century belongs to the reformed Gelygpa and is, at present the home of about 60 Yellow Hat Monks. Below the large cave lies the monks, village with the Nyingpa Lakhang. The cave contains the chorten with the relics of Shesreb Zangpo which is covered by several layers of lime paint

Rangdum is the first Buddhist monastery one encounters on the way from Kargil to Panikar and Parkutse. From Kargil one can reach it in a seven to eight hours drive by Jeep. The monastery stands on a hill in a mountain valley, which in that area is rather wide. Rangdum was founded by the Gelugpa as in the early 16th century at present, over 40 monks live there under their abbot Ngari Rinpoche.

It takes one day drive from Kargi via Rangdum to reach the monastery and village of Sani, which lies about 10 Km before Padum. The Sani Monastery belongs to the southern branch of the Drukpa Kagyupa school. This sanctuary is, however for Buddhist of such high importance that even other sects worship it deeply. According to a legend, the chorten, standing in the oldest part of Sani monastery dates back to the 2nd century A.D. The Dukhang which forms the center of the later built monastery part, was erected in the early 17th century. A few meters to the north west of the monastery, outside the wall, lies one of the eight most important cremation grounds of Tibetan Buddhists.

The village of Tonde can be reached from Padum in a four to five hours hiking tour through a bare, desert like plateau. The monastery Marpa Ling stands high above the village on the way to the Ronde Pass. The originally Red Hat Monastery was reformed in time and belongs now to the Gelugpa school. Over 50 monks of this sect are working in Tonde.

After a five hours walk from Tonde, along the right bank of the river Zanskar one arrives at Zangla the main village of the small principality bearing the same name. The castle of Zangla towering on a mountain ridge above the village is almost entirely destroyed. The Raja of Zangla lives, now a days in the village amongst the common people.