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Monasteries in Leh-Ladakh

The monasteries of Ladakh are just not religious centers. However, they are the purifying havens where one can find peace and meditate amidst the tranquil environs. With the backdrop of mighty snow-capped Himalayas and picturesque landscapes, these great monasteries fascinate different types of travelers. The surreal ambiance, wealthy heritage, and rich culture of the region enhance the charm of these gompas of Ladakh. These breathtaking edifices nestled in the lap of the barren landscape hold the Buddhist heritage alive and fresh. The ancient and unique monasteries of Ladakh depict various aspects of Buddhist cultures.

The cultural and religious heritage of Ladakh is heavily influenced by Buddhism, owing to its proximity to Tibet. The valley of Ladakh is home to some of the most beautiful and oldest monasteries in the country. They are located all across its length and breadth. It gives Ladakh one more reason to stand superior to the other tourist destinations in India. These monasteries house a rich and rare collection of Buddhist relics. Generally situated atop a hill or on an elevated ground, these monasteries in Ladakh are also counted among the most beautiful tourist places in the region.

The tranquil and calm atmosphere of the Ladakh monasteries makes them just perfect for pilgrims and spirituality seekers. Irrespective of the rugged terrains and remoteness ruling the valleys of Ladakh, these sacred sites are visited by a large number of tourists from all over the globe to delve into the divine aura amidst serene environs. Moreover, as Ladakh has a long course of history to narrate, one can easily get a quick brief of the bygone era through the monasteries, of which some are centuries old. Besides, relics of these Buddhist monasteries like thangkas, murals, scriptures, and sculptures reflect the culture and tradition of Ladakh in a dignified way. Moreover, they house a precious collection of Buddhist books, journals, statues, stupas, and swords.

Most Popular 15 Best Monasteries in Ladakh

Hemis Monastery

With its iconic monasteries and stupas, Ladakh is a beautiful region mainly inhabited by people who are a mix of Mons, Tibetans, and Dards. 

Hemis Monastery is one of the most visited and largest monastic institutions in Ladakh. The Hemis Monastery in Ladakh is of Drukpa lineage and an organization where you can indulge in learning and practice at the Mahayoga Tantra School. The magical and thrilling ambiance of the monastery attracts thousands of visitors from all parts of the globe.

It was reestablished in 1672 by Ladakhi king Senne Namgyal. Ranked among the wealthiest monasteries of India, the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh boasts vast collections of pre-historic artifacts and relics. Namely, the statue of Buddha is made of copper, stupas made of gold, silver, thangkas (a painting on cotton or silk depicting a Buddhist deity), and murals. With Tibetan construction styles, the Hemis monastery is divided into two parts- the assembly hall known as Dukhang and the temple called Tshogkhang.

The monastery's huge courtyard (where all the public events are organized) is also worth a visit. In addition, there is also a picturesque Verandah adorned with colorful wall paintings of Buddhist Kalachakra. Offering a great view from the top of the monastery is the Chomoling, home to several nuns. Every year, the monastery becomes the venue of the very popular Hemis Festival, which is attended by a large number of tourists. This is the perfect occasion to sneak a peek into the rich cultural heritage of the gompa.

  • Location: Hemis, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 6 AM to 8 PM

Alchi Monastery

Nestled in the lap of the Alchi Village of the Leh district, Alchi Monastery is among the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. It is also home to some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh. This monastic complex of Alchi Monastery has been divided into four separate settlements that have been constructed during different times. Famous scholar and translator Rinchen Zangpo established it in the 10th century.

The monastery houses the inscriptions created by the Tibetan noble Kal-dan-Shes-Rab in the 11th-century. Alchi is known for its unique style and workmanship. It has three major shrines in the monastery, including the Dukhang (Assembly hall), the Sumtsek, and the Temple of Manjushri. The monastery is known for its wall paintings that depict in-depth details of both Buddhist style and Kashmiri style. Apart from this, lavish wood carvings and artwork which is the same as of baroque style are the major attractions of the gompa. The complex houses a huge statue of the Buddha.

  • Location: Alchi Village, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 10 AM to 1 PM, 2 PM to 6 PM

Spituk Monastery

Also known as Pethup Gompa or Spituk Gompa, the Spituk Monastery in Leh boasts several pre-historic shrines, frescoes, idols, and other religious scriptures. The giant Kali statue is the major attraction of the Spituk Monastery, which is revealed at the annual festival of Gustor. It is a must-visit monastery for history buffs and Buddha devotees. Inside the monastery, you see several images and statues of Lord Buddha. In addition, there is a sacred idol of Amitayus (sambhogakaya form of Amitabha). Further, the monastery's Dukhang (assembly hall) possesses numerous collections of thangkas (a painting on cotton or silk depicting a Buddhist deity), masks, and antique arms.

In the monastic complex, you can spot the big throne for the Dalai Lama, and behind the throne, there is an old chapel with images of Tsong-Kha-Pa, his two disciples, and the Buddha. With a statue of female Bodhisattva Tara in the monastery, there is also a room dedicated to the images of Tara, called Dolma Lakhang, or the temple of Tara. You can also visit one of the beautiful shrines dedicated to the Vajrabhairava deity, located on the top. The Cham Dance performed by the Lamas during the Gustor Festival is worth watching.

  • Location: Leh, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 20 per person

Thiksey Monastery

Located approximately 18 km away from Leh town, Thiksey Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in central Ladakh. Built-in 1430 AD, the Thiksey Monastery is perched on the hilltop and is home to around 120 monks. With its impressive and iconic architecture, Thiksey is a twelve-storied monastery that boasts 10 shrines and an assembly hall. The monastery buildings are put up in hierarchical order and offer a striking view from both up and down.

Thiksey monastery in Leh holds Gelugpa order (yellow hat sect) and is referred to as 'Mini Potala' of India, as it resembles Potala Palace (World Heritage Site) in Lhasa (Tibet). The Tibetan monastery houses many things of Buddhist art, such as stupas, statues, swords, thangkas (a painting on cotton or silk depicting a Buddhist deity), and wall paintings. In addition, there is also a nunnery in the monastery complex.

The monastery features one giant statue of Maitreya Buddha and the idol of Goddess Tara in the Tara Temple. Further, placed on the hilltop, the monastery presents a fantastic view of Indus valley and other monasteries like Stok, Shey, and Matho. Gustor Festival is a famous festival celebrated with great excitement and interest in the Thiksey monastery in Leh. This is a perfect event for tourists to get along with locals and get glimpses of the region's rich cultural heritage. They can enjoy the events, including sacred mask dance and music. You can also visit Lhakhang Nyerma, a beautiful shrine settled within the monastery.

  • Location: Leh Manali Highway, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 6 AM to 7 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 20 per person

Lamayuru Monastery

Fondly referred to as Yuru Monastery, Lamayuru Gompa is nestled at hilltops casting a panoramic view of the valley that is a ‘lunar’ landscape. This Tibetan monastery is surrounded by spectacular snow peaks and offers a mesmerizing view of the valley. The monasteries in Ladakh are magnetically enchanting, and this is one such monastery. About 127 km from the Leh town, Lamayuru Monastery is perched on a steep hill between Bodh Kharbu and Kha-la-che.

The monastery is located east of Fotu La Pass and at an altitude of 3,510 m above sea level. It was founded by Mahasiddacarya Naropa in the 11th-century. Colorful prayer flags fluttering along the mountain edges and fresh breeze add to its beauty. Often you can spot monks in maroon robes, silently climbing their way to the monasteries.

There are legends associated with the Lamayuru Monastery. It is believed that the Lamayuru was once a lake, and the blessings of a lama made it reach atop the hill. The monastery is home to 150 monks and follows the Red-Hat sect of Buddhism. Lamayuru Monastery is also known as Yung Drung or Swastika monastery. It has many shrines and a rich collection of thangkas and wall paintings. The tourists can also see the glass in the meditation cave of the Lama Naropa. Lamayuru is a part of the Dri-Gungpa sector in western Ladakh.

Initially, the monastery had five buildings, but today only the central building exists. The annual festival known as Yuru Khabgyat is celebrated here with great zeal, which lies on the fifth month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar. During the festival, you can enjoy the mask dances performed by the monks, which depict the vibrant history of the region. Monks from the other monasteries also participate in the celebrations.

  • Location: Khaltse, Srinagar Leh Highway, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 6 AM to 6 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 30 per person

Diskit Monastery

Nestled amidst the barren landscape in the Nubra Valley, Diskit Monastery is the largest and the oldest surviving monastery in the valley. The GompaGompa houses a massive statue of Maitreya Buddha on top of it, which can be spotted from far away. Also known as Diskit Gompa, this Buddhist center was founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo in the 14th century and stands atop a hill above the plains of the Shayok River. Perched at an altitude of 3,142 m above sea level, Diskit Monastery belongs to the yellow hat sect of Buddhism. The prime attraction of the Diskit Monastery is the 100-foot-high Maitreya Buddha statue, which the holy Dalai Lama inaugurated. 

From the top of the GompaGompa, where the divine statue is settled, one can view the Nubra valley. Besides the Buddha statue, other attractions to ponder in the Diskit Monastery are the ancient murals and frescoes that can leave anyone mesmerized and awestruck. To see the monastery blossoming to its zenith, one must visit Diskit Gompa during the months of December and January. During this time, the renowned Dosmoche festival is celebrated in the courtyards of the monastery. 

  • Location: Diskit, Nubra Valley, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 5 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 30 per person

Phugtal Monastery

Ladakh's landscape offers spectacular sites adorned with monasteries. You would likely spot monks in maroon attires strolling around here in Ladakh. In the Zanskar region, at the opening of a huge cave is the Phugtal Monastery, one of the most isolated monasteries in Ladakh. It takes a 3-hours trek to reach the monastery, and there is a Phugtal bridge that connects the two banks of the Zanskar River.

The monastery dates back to the 12th century and is in the façade of the cave that houses this monastery. There is a tremendous stream that is also a passageway to the tributaries of southern Lungnak River. This 2500-year-old monastery was just a cave where monks used to meditate, and now it has been converted into a gompa. It is believed that the most dedicated followers of Buddha, like the Arhats and Guru Padmasambhava, once lived in the cave of liberation at different times, over a thousand years ago.

Besides being the residence of 40 monks, Phugtal Monastery has several chapels situated within its premises. One of the chapels has a strong semblance of Indian art. The frescoes and murals decorated on the walls are artistically done. Buddhism is the dominant religion in Leh Ladakh. The prayer flags flanked along the mountain pathways are indicators of the Ladakhi and their devotion to Lord Buddha. Buddhist inscriptions and chortens are found inscribed along the walls bordering Ladakh. Gompas and Monasteries in Leh-Ladakh with thousands of residing monks are located amidst the serenity of mountain ranges.

  • Location: Diskit, Zanskar Valley, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 5 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 30 per person

Shey Monastery

Located on a hillock in Shey Village, Shey Monastery is situated 15 km from the town of Leh. This is one of the most revered Buddhist learning centers in the valley of Ladakh. The renowned monastery was built in the mid of the 17th century by King Deldon Namgyal in memory of his late father, Singay Namgyal. This is the erstwhile summer capital of Ladakh. Having served as a royal residence for a long time, the Shey Monastery still holds glimpses of the bygone rule. Once a seat of Ladakh kings, the Shey monastery today is noted for its giant gilded copper statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. Besides housing a massive Buddha statue in its vicinity, the monastery boasts of two Tantric shrines, which consist of a vast gallery of rock arts.

Along with the monastery, there is also a palace in the complex. The original palace was built near the Shey village by Lhachen Palgyigon, the king (Maryul) of Ladakh, in the 10th century. As tourists make their way to the different sections of Shey monastery, several Tibetan artworks like wall paintings, murals of Lord Buddha, and manuscripts are likely to captivate their imagination. However, one of the best times to visit the Shey monastery is during its festivals. The renowned monastery celebrates two festivals every year. One is the Metuka festival, which takes place in July, and the other one is Shey Shublas in August. Both the festivals are the major attraction of the Shey Monastery.

  • Location: Diskit, Leh Manali Highway, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 5 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 20 per person (for Indians) & INR 100 per person (for foreigners)

Rangdum Monastery

Located at an altitude of 4,031 m above sea level, Rangdum Monastery is an 18th-century Gompa. It is situated between Kargil and Padum in the northernmost part of India at the head of the Suru Valley. Rangdum Monastery is an old Buddhist shrine and monastic home. Being perched on a hilltop, the monastery looks like a fort keeping an eye on the serene valley. One of the major tourist attractions in Ladakh, this renowned Tibetan Buddhist monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect. Legends have it that the sacred monastery was built during King Tsewang Mangyul of Ladakh, close to about 200 years ago. Although, some believe that its construction started a long time back in the 8th century.

The architecture of the Rangdum monastery in Ladakh boasts of a central prayer hall, which houses a marvelous collection of statues. The monastery is situated in Suru Valley, but Zanskar Valley culturally influences it. Therefore, it is a perfect place to get glimpses of the region's authentic culture and sneak a peek into the rich past of the valley.

  • Location: Rangdum, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 5 PM
  • Entrance Fees: Nil

Bardan Monastery

Bardan Gompa, or the Bardan Monastery located in Padam, is an important monastery of Leh- Ladakh. It is situated in Zanskar Valley on the side of the Lungnak River. On your tour to Leh-Ladakh, visit the Bardan Monastery. It has a large Dukhang Assembly Hall with some exquisitely crafted statues of Buddhist deities and some stupas made of clay, bronze, wood, and copper. Constructed in the 17th century, Bardan Monastery belongs to the Dugpa-Kagyud monastic order, which was one of its first centers.

The Bardan Monastery monks participate in unveiling the idol in Sani Monastery. The monastery ran several small hermitages in the area. This was one of the first monasteries of this sect to be established. The festival is celebrated in the Bardan Monastery with great zeal and vigor, where the monks perform masked dances as a part of the ritual.

  • Location: Padam, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 6 AM to 6 PM
  • Entrance Fees: Nil

Likir Monastery

Perched at an altitude of 3,700m above sea level, Likir Monastery is a Buddhist Gompa that gets its name from the word Lukhgil means 'coiled snake'. It is believed that the Snake King named Jokpo slept at Likir Monastery, and for his safety, two great snakes - Nanda and Taksako guard the gompa. This monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in the early 11th-century by King Lha-Chen Gyal-Po.

Lama Duwang Chosje later reestablished it in the 15th century. Unfortunately, the original structure of the monastery was ruined by fire once, and it was again reestablished in the 18th century. Likir Monastery houses around 120 Buddhist monks, and there is a school that also accommodates 30 students on the premises. The school is operated by the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies and imparts education in three languages, Hindi, English, and Sanskrit. The monastic complex comprises two prayer halls called Dukhang. The one located on the right side is the older one, which has a seating arrangement for the monks and a throne for the Head Lama of Likir. There are numerous statues of Maitreya Buddha, Bodhisattva, Amitabha, Sakyamuni, and Tsong Khapa in the prayer hall. 

You can spot brightly colored Thangka paintings hanging on the verandah of the monastery that depicts the Guardians of the Four Directions. There is also a Juniper tree in the courtyard, considered rare and revered. In addition, the monastery has numerous manuscripts, thangka paintings, and a collection of earthen pots, which offer glimpses of the rich past of the region.

  • Location: Likir, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
  • Entrance Fees: Nil
  • Museum Fees: INR 20 per person

Namgyal Tsemo Fort and Gompa

Namgyal Tsemo Monastery is named after King Tashi Namgyal, who was also the founder of the gompa. This Buddhist monastery was established in 1430 and is situated near the Tsemo Castle. The gompa houses a three-story high gold statue of Maitreya Buddha statue, which is the prime attraction of the monastery. In addition, the frescoes, ancient manuscripts, and murals in the gompa depict the region's rich heritage. 

Tsemo Castle is a revered place in Leh that holds religious and historical significance. Located within walking distance of Leh Palace, Tsemo Castle is a defensive structure maintained by the Archeological Society of India. It is also the highest point in Leh, from where you can witness the enchanting beauty of the town. The panoramic view from the top of the fort palace can mesmerize anyone. Built by the Tashi Namgyal, Tsemo Fort witnesses morning and evening ceremonies on the premises. From a vantage point, you can also enjoy the bird's eye view of Leh city.

  • Location: Leh City, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 8 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 20 per person

Basgo Monastery

Home to Maitreya Temples, Basgo Monastery is one of the oldest surviving monasteries of its kind. Located approximately 40 away from Leh in Basgo Village of Ladakh, Basgo Monastery was built for Namgyal rulers in 1680. Basgo was a cultural and political center of Ladakh in the 15th century, owing to which it is a fantastic place to get glimpses of rich culture and traditions. Moreover, this is a powerfully built spiritual center of Ladakh, where many people visit to witness the scenic charm and the vibrant past of the region. 

In the monastic complex, Chamba Lhakhang is the largest temple perched at the highest point. The restoration work of the monastery was completed in the early 1980s by removing the ancillary chambers and roof. Another prominent temple in the sanctuary is Cham Chung Temple, which has a conical roof, and the Chamba Serzang Temple was exclusively restricted to the royal family. There are paintings in the Cham Chung and the Serzang temples that follow the same elements and style. Although, religious developments majorly preferred tantric Buddhist tradition.

Basgo Monastery is located atop a hill towering over the ruins of the ancient town. It comprises dark red base sky-high temples on the steep trails. There is an ancient library that history fanatics should definitely visit during the monastery tour in Ladakh. Basgo Gompa is also a famous place for meditation for those who wish to spend some time amidst peaceful and serene environs. The monastery is known for its ancient murals and paintings. The complex comprises the Chamchung, Chamba Lhakhang, and Serzang temples dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha. 

  • Location: Leh City, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 8 PM
  • Entrance Fees: INR 20 per person

Chemrey Monastery

Nestled in the picturesque location of Ladakh, Chemrey Monastery is dedicated to the Drugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. This is a prominent center of Buddhist learning founded in 1664 AD by Lama Tagsang Raschen, who was also the founder of the Hemis Monastery. It also houses almost 20 monks in the monastery. The gompa is dedicated to King Sengge Namgyal, a notable figure in the spread of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. In addition, this monastic complex comprises several shrines, Dukhang (assembly hall) and the Lhakhang (Lama temple).

All the walls of the monastery consist of paintings that were drawn during the 17th century. The primary feature of the monastery is the one-story high idol of Padmasambhava, who was instrumental in the spread of Buddhism in Tibet and translated many Indian scriptures written in Pali and Sanskrit into Tibetan. There are also rare collections of Buddhist scriptures, murals of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), Kalchakra, Akshobhya (Buddha of East), and a thousand Buddha. Another popular interest is the 29-volume scripture written in silver and gold letters. The Chemrey Angchok festival is the prime attraction of the monastery, which one should attend to witness the traditions and rich culture of the region. 

  • Location: Leh City, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 7 AM to 8 PM
  • Entrance Fees: Nil

Rizong Monastery

Perched on the rocky hilltop north of the Indus River, Rizong Monastery is among the prominent and renowned monasteries of the country. It is surrounded by the Himalayas and Karakoram Range, which enhance the beauty of these incredible monasteries in their folds. On your tour to Ladakh, you can spot monks in maroon robes silently plodding their way to the monasteries. Rizong Monastery is situated about 73 kilometers from Leh town.

The Rizong Monastery belonged to the Gelukpa order and was founded by the great Lama, Tsultim Nima, in 183. This monastery is the center of worship for the monks and is also an excellent seat for learning. Rizong Monastery is a popular place where almost 40 monks live who have chosen the path to God as their goal in life. These monks follow a daily course of life and adhere to the strict rules by following the Buddhist principles and learning the scriptures and texts.

Several shrines are located within the premises of the Rizong Monastery, and a rich collection of scriptures, texts, and biographies of great Lamas like Tsultim Nima are preserved here. In addition, these books composed by the first Sras Rinpoche are also kept here. 

At 2 km, a nunnery, known as Chulichan (Chomoling), is located close to the monastery. Here, approximately 20 nuns reside, and it is under the governance of the Rizong Monastery. The nuns or the Chomos worship at the monastery's temples, perform chores like milking, spinning wool, and getting oil for the temple lamps.

  • Location: Leh City, Ladakh
  • Opening Hours: 6 AM to 6 PM
  • Entrance Fees: Nil

Ladakh and monasteries share a beautiful and robust bond that will enhance your travel experience. You can add this experience to a smooth vacation through our wide range of Ladakh tour packages. So contact us now and explore the beauty of Ladakh in your style.