Lamayuru Monastery is situated in Ladakh, in between Bodhkharbu and Kha-la-che, on a steep rock mountain. It lies at a distance of approximately 127 km to the west of Leh town. Lamayuru Monastery belongs to the Red-Hat sect of Buddhism and houses approximately 150 Buddhist monks. The monastery is made up of a number of shrines and also has a very rich collection of thankas and magnificent wall paintings. At the outset, the Lamayuru Monastery consisted of five buildings, out of which only the central one exists today. Every year the LamayuruGompa plays host a masked dance, which takes place on the 17th and 18th day of the 5th month of Tibetan lunar calendar. Today, the Lamayuru Monastery is served by the successive reincarnations of SkyabsjeToldan Rinpoche.
Location: 125 Km from Leh
Founded: 11th century by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa
Main festivals ( as per lunar calender/Tibetan calendar): Yuru Kabgyad
Treks: Lamayur-Chilling, Lamayur-Zanskar, Lamyuru to Tsomoriri
Founded: Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055 CE)
Treks: Lamayuru to Alchi, Sham valleyTrek.
Alchi monastery is located near the small village of Saspol. It is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was constructed before the invading wars begun in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as other gompas were, to protect them from marauding armies.
The gompa at Alchi was erected by Rinchen-Zangpo, one of the first Ladakhi kings to engage in foreign relations. To build the monastery, the Ladakhi king signed a treaty with the Gyalpo (king) of Tibet, who agreed to provide the artisans.
The rambling monastery has six main buildings the Dukhang or main assembly hall, the Sum-tsek or three-tiered temple; the adjoining Manjusri Lha-khang and Lotsawa Lha-Khang temples; the Lha-khang Soma and the Kanjur-Lha-khang.
Hemis Monastery holds the distinction of being the biggest as well as the wealthiest monastery of Ladakh. It dates back to the year 1630 and was founded by the first incarnation of StagsangRaspaNawangGyatso. Hemis Monastery is positioned inside a gorge, at a distance of approximately 47 km from Leh. Belonging to the Dugpa Order, it stands on the western bank of the Indus River. The monastery also boasts of a very rich collection of ancient relics. The Hemis Monastery also serves as the venue of an annual festival, known as the Hemis Festival. This festival is celebrated as a commemoration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhav. On the day of the Hemis Festival, the thangka of the monastery is displayed, with a gap of twelve years between successive displays. The Thanka is the sacred appliqué-work tapestry wrought with pearls, which depicts Guru Padmasambhava. And not to be forgotten is a sacred mask dance that is performed at the monastery every year. The dance takes place on 9th and 10th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar.
Location:19 km from Leh.
Founded: Jangsem Sherab Zangpo
Main festivals: Thiksey Gustor.
Thiksey monastery is the finest example of Ladakhi architecture. This Monastery is located on the top of the hill in solitude which lies at a distance of twenty kilometers away from Leh. It Gelukpa order of Buddhist faith. Paldan Sherab, nephew of Sherb Zangpo, founded this monastery.
It is a massive twelve storey monastery complex with a number of stupas, statues, thankas and wall paintings. There is also a large pillar engraved with the Buddha's teachings. In its museum many sacred items besides a royal sword among other precious objects are on display. As per tradition of Buddhist monastic orders, the successive Lamas are believed to be reincarnations of the original Lama.. The successive reincarnations of the Skyabje Khampo Ringpoche act as Head Lama of this monastery. The main prayer hall has a 15 mt high seated Buddha statue. The prayer held in the early morning.
The festival of Thiksey gustor is held from 17th to 19th day of the 12th month in this monastery.
Location: 20 km from Leh.
Founded: 1410 century by Lama Dugpa Dorje
Main festivals: Matho Nagstrang.
Founded by Lama Dugpa Dorje, Matho is the only monastery which follows Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism. Matho monastery is modeled on the Saskya monastery in Tibet. The monastery is home to about 60 lamas and 30 novitiates. Matho Monastery is popular for the celebration of festival called Matho Nagrang. It is also famous for its oracles.
The monastery comprises dukhang which stands for the assembly hall, temples and chapels. The Dukhang has walls that are full of paintings. Besides the paintings of Buddha and other deities, the monastery also has statues of Maitreya, Sakyamuni, the blessing Buddha and a thousand-armed statue of Avalokitesvara. The chapels have images of Sakya Pandita and lamas. The museum inside the monastery houses beautiful old thangkas, some believed to have been brought from Tibet in 16th century.
Location: Lungnak Valley in south-eastern Zanskar
The Phuktal Monastery is built around a natural cave, which is believed to have been visited by numerous sages, scholars, translators, and monks around 2,550 years ago. The remote location of the monastery was ideal for monks looking for peace and solitude to meditate. The present Phuktal Gompa, of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, was established in the early 15th century by Jangsem Sherap Zangpo, a disciple of Je Tsongkhapa. Tsongkhapa was the founder of Gelug, which is one of the newest schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Believed to be one of the earliest residents of the cave are the 16 Arhats, or the legendary followers of Buddha. The images of these 16 Arhats appear on the cave walls. The great scholars and translators Padmasambhava and Phakspa Nestan Dusdan are believed to have lived in the cave, and so is the great leader and translator Lama Marpa Lotsawa. It is built in the cliffside, like a honeycomb. The cliff is part of a lateral gorge of a major tributary of the Lungnak River (Lingti-Tsarap River). The monastery today houses a main temple, prayer rooms, a library with rare sacred texts, apartments and living quarters, teaching facilities, a kitchen, and of course, the original cave and the sacred spring, which is protected. It is home to about 70 monks.