Lamayuru Gompa is the most enchanting monastery outside Ladakh. Situated at a height of 3,510 metres (11,520 ft), the monastery is located on the extremely scenic Srinagar-Leh highway. Lamayuru is the oldest and one of the largest monasteries. The area around the Lamayuru Monastery is known as Moonland, as the rock formations in this area look similar to moonscape. There is an amazing serenity surrounding the Lamayuru monastery as it rests in isolation away from the main town. Lamayuru was originally a lake. It was originally a collection of five large buildings, out of which only one survives now. The ambiance is pure and one that makes you believe in the power of prayers. The prayer hall is the only part of the main monastery which is accessible to the travellers. In front of the temple there are three chortens. In the small temple there are some images of Avalokitesvara (with 1000 arms and 11 heads), Padmasambhava and statues of eight Bodhisattvas. The Lamayuru monastery lies on the way leading to Leh from Kargil. Around 150 monks live in Lamayuru Gompa. The annual festival known as Yuru Kabgyat is the major attraction of the monastery.
There are some options available for tourist to stay inside the Lamayuru Monastery or in homestays and guesthouses in the village. There is a restaurant in the gompa. Lamayuru is an experience in itself for those looking for complete silence and isolation.
Some precautions to be observed while visiting a monastery:
- Visitors are required to take off their shoes before entering a prayer area
- 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
- In many Gompa’s, 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