The rugged terrain of Ladakh is dotted with innumerable monasteries or gompas as the majority of its population practice Buddhism as their religion. These monasteries not only attract visitors for religious and cultural significance but also for architectural splendour. Old scriptures, thangkas, murals and other relics effortlessly capture the attention of visitors. Besides, the peaceful ambience of these gompas has a rejuvenating effect. To believe that you have seen it all by visiting just one monastery would be wrong as each monastery is unique in one way or the other. Here are some of the popular monasteries of Ladakh that you must visit:
A must stop as you drive on Srinagar-Leh Highway, Lamayuru Monastery is the main seat of Drikung Kagyu school of Buddhism and also, one of the oldest and largest monasteries of Ladakh.
The first stop after Kargil as you drive towards Leh on Srinagar-Leh Highway is Mulbekh Monastery.
The wealthiest monastery of Ladakh and India, Hemis Monastery belongs to the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
Thiksey Monastery, affiliated to Gelugpa or the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism, is located at a distance of around 19 km from the town of Leh.
Mostly in ruins now, Shey Palace and Monastery was once the summer capital of Ladakh. The Namgyals, who were the rulers of Ladakh, abandoned Shey in 1842 and fled to Stok when Ladakh was invaded by the Dogras
Alchi Monastery, founded by the famous scholar Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th century, is more of a monastic complex.
Likir Monastery gets its name from the word Lukhgil which means ‘coiled snake’.
Stok Monastery, located 15 km from Leh, was once the residence of the royal family of Ladakh.
At 15000 ft, Korzok Monastery has a unique location as it overlooks Tso Moriri, one of the highest lakes of India.
Basgo Monastery, situated 40 km from Leh, is built atop a mountain overlooking the ruins of a town by the same name.
Spituk in Tibetan means exemplary. When the translator Lotsewa Rinchen Zangpo visited here, he predicted the rising of an exemplary religious community at the place where Spituk Monastery stands today.
Chemrey Monastery, affiliated to the Drukpa sect of Buddhism, was dedicated to King Sengge Namgyal during the time of its foundation in the mid 17th century.
Around 15 km from Leh, Phyang Monastery is one of the only two monasteries in Ladakh belonging to the Drikung Kagyu sect, the other being the Lamayuru Monastery.
Located 30 km from Leh on the banks of the Indus River, Stakna Monastery gets its name from the shape of the hill it is built on.