The land of many passes, snow clad mountains and arid land is among the highest of the world's inhabited plateaus. It lies at altitudes ranging from about 2,750 meters at Kargil to 7,672 meters at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. The summer temperatures exceed up to 35 ° C, while in winter they may drop to -40 ° C in some high altitude areas. Ladakh has been the described as 'Moon Land', 'Magic Land', and 'Mysterious Land' for its unique landscape and exquisite culture. One sees no horizon here but only mountain peaks soaring up to 5 to 6 km. In the prehistoric period Ladakh formed a great lake. Even at present the region has some of the largest and most beautiful lakes, Pangong and the Tsomoriri lakes. Covering an area of approximately 98,000 sq. km with a population of about more than 2 lakhs, it is a repository of myriad cultural and religious influences from Tibet, India and Central Asia. The population of Ladakh is evenly divided between Muslims and Buddhists. There are several hundred Christians also. Ladakh has witnessed Stone Age, as stone tools have been found in some parts of the region. The early history of Ladakh is shrouded in mystery. It formed originally a part of Tibet. But in the 10th century it became independent under a line of Tibetan kings who accepted the Grand Lamas as their Suzerians. This dynasty known as Namgyal continued to rule till 1836, when Gulab Singh, the ruler of Jammu & Kashmir invaded Ladakh and annexed it to the Jammu & Kashmir territory. For centuries, Ladakh has been an important center of trade between India and the countries of the Central Asia . Leh, the capital of Ladakh.
NAMGYAL TSEMO, Location in Leh town Just above the leh Palace on a HillFounded by King Tashi Namgyal in 1430 AD
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa was founded in the early 15th century, around the year 1430. It stands atop the crag behind Leh palace, having a full view of the town of Leh. And because of this position, it offers some of the most splendid visuals of the town. The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa of Ladakh was founded by King Tashi Namgyal and has been named after him only. It boasts of a rich collection of some ancient manuscripts and wall paintings.
SANKAR GOMPA,Location: 2 Km north of Leh
Sankar Gompa of Ladakh is located at a distance of approximately 2 km from the town of Leh. A subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa, it belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect. The monastery also serves as the official residence of the Ladakh's head of Gelukpa Sect, known as The Kushok Bakul. There are time restrictions for visiting the Sankar Monastery of Leh Ladakh. .
SHANTI STUPA, Situated in Leh Town near Changspa Founded by a Japaneese Monk in 1984
Shanti Stupa of Ladakh is located on the hilltop at Changspa. It can be reached quite easily from the Fort Road. The Stupa was constructed by a Japanese Buddhist organization, known as 'The Japanese for World Peace'. The aim behind the construction of the stupa was to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and to promote World Peace. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama inaugurated the Shanti Stupa in the year 1985.
CHEMREY GOMPA, Location: 45 Km Founded in 17th century by Lama Tagsang Raschen
Chemrey Gompa of Ladakh was founded by Lama Tagsang Raschen and dates back to the 17th century. Situated at a distance of approximately 40 km to the east of the town of Leh, this monastery belongs to the Drugpa Order. Infact, it serves as the residence of approximately 20 monks of the diminishing Drugpa community, and also their young apprentices. Chemrey Monastery of Leh Ladakh was initially built to serve as a memorial to King Sengge Namgyal. There are a number of shrines situated inside the monastery.
TAKTHOK MONASTRY, Takthok Monastery of Ladakh is situated in Sakti Village, at a distance of approximately 51 km from the town of Leh
The site where the monastery is now situated, once served as the meditation cave of Mahasidhas "Kunga Phuntsog". The name Takthok literally means 'rock-roof'. The monastery was so named, as both its roof as well as walls are made up of rock. Tak Thok belongs to the Nying-ma-pa sect of Buddhism, also known as the Old Order, and serves as the residence of approximately 55 lamas. It is the probably the only Gompa in Ladakh that follows this order. Every year a festival is held at the Tak Thok Gompa of Leh Ladakh, on the 9th and 10th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar. Celebrations of the festival include sacred dances and the ceremony of hurling a votive offering.
HEMIS MONASTRERY, Location: 46 Km Founded in 1630 by First incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso
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 Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso. 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. 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.
STAKNA GOMPA, Location 25 Kms from Leh Founded by Chosje Jamyang Palkar in 16th century
Stakna Gompa of Ladakh is situated on the right bank of the Indus River, at a distance of approximately 25 km from the town of Leh. The name, 'Stakna' literally means 'tiger's nose'. The monastery was so named because it was built on a hill, which is shaped just like a tiger's nose. Stakna Monastery of Leh Ladakh owes its inception to Chosje Jamyang Palkar, the great scholar saint of Bhutan. It formed a part of the many religious estates offered by the Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial to the saint, around 1580 AD.
THIKSEY GOMPA, Location Thicksey Village 20 Kms from Leh Founnded in 1430 AD. By Spon Paldan Sherab, nephew of Sherab Zangpo
Thiksey Gompa of Ladakh is situated at a distance of approximately 18 km from the town of Leh. One of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh, it belongs to the Gelukpa Order of Buddhism. Sherab Zangpo of Stod got the Thikse Monastery built for the first time, at Stakmo. However, later Spon Paldan Sherab, the nephew of Sherab Zangpo, reconstructed the monastery in the year 1430 AD. The new monastery was sited on a hilltop, to the north of Indus River.
SHEY PALACE, Location : 14 Kms from Leh Founded by King Deldan Namgyal in 17th century
Shey Gompa of Ladakh is situated on a hillock, at a distance of approximately 15 km to the south of Leh town. The monastery was erected on the instructions of King Deldon Namgyal, in the memory of his late father, Singay Namgyal. The main image inside the Shey Monastery is that of Buddha Shalyamuni. It is a huge image of the seated Buddha and is considered to be the biggest metal statue and the second largest Buddha statue in the Ladakh region. Copper sheets, gilded with gold, make up this amazing Buddha statue.
STOK GOMPA, Location 12 kms from Leh Lama Lhawang Lotus in 14th Century
Stok Gompa of Ladakh is situated at a distance of approximately 15 km to the south of the Leh town. It dates back to the 14th century and was founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus. Stok is a subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa and belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism. As you enter the verandah of the monastery, you will come across bright friezes, depicting the Guardians of the Four Directions. The Dukhang of the monastery was repainted, not a long time back, and displays a rich collection of banners and thankas.
. LAMARUYU MONASTERY , Location 127 Km from Leh. Founded in 11th century by Mahasidhacharya Naropa.
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. .
ALCHI GOMPA, Location 67 Km from Leh Founded in 1000 AD by Rinchen Zangpo1000 AD
Alchi Gompa dates back to the year 1000 AD and was built by the Translator, Rinchen Zangpo. He even made a reference about the monastery in his biographies. It is written that he brought thirty-two sculptors and wood carvers from Kashmir, for the construction of the Alchi Monastery of Leh Ladakh. The monastery is sited at a distance of approximately 67 km to the west of Leh.
LIKER GOMPA, Location 60 Km from Leh Founded in 9th century by Lama Duwang Chusje.
The name Likir means "The Naga - Encircled". The reason behind this naming of Likir Gompa of Ladakh is that it stands surrounded by the bodies of the two great serpent spirits, the Naga-rajas, Nanda and Taksako. The monastery is situated at a distance of approximately 62 km to the west of Leh
RIZONG GOMPA, Location 70 Km from Leh Founded in 1831 AD by Lama Tsultim Nima .
The Rizong Gompa of Ladakh was founded by the great Lama Tsultim Nima in the year 1831. It belongs to the Gelukpa Order, and is situated at a distance of approximately 73 km from the Leh town. The monastery serves as the residence of approximately 40 monks. However, they have to follow some very strict rules. The inmates of the monastery are not permitted to have anything on their person, except for religious robes and books. Rizdong Monastery of Leh Ladakh consists of a number of shrines inside its complex. The gompa also has quite a rich collection of the painting blocks of Lama Tsultim Nima's biography as well as a number of objects made and books composed by the first Sras Rinpoche. Serving as the incumbents of the Rizdong Monastery, .
PHYANG MONASTERY, Location 26 Km from Leh Founded in1515 by Chosje Damma Kunga.
Phyang Monastery of Ladakh is situated at a distance of approximately 26 km to the west of the Leh town. It belongs to the Red Hat Sect of Buddhism. The site where the monastery now stands was once a part of the numerous monastic properties, offered during the time of Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial to Chosje Damma Kunga. The hill of Phyang served as the venue of a monastery, known as Tashi Chozong, established in the year 1515. A monastic community was introduced to the monastery and with this started, the first establishment of the Digung teachings in Ladakh.
SPITUK MONASTERY, Location 7 Km from Leh Founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od in 11th century.
Spituk Gompa of Ladakh dates back to the 11th century. It owes its inception to Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od. Od-de led to the establishment of a monastic community at this place. A three-chapel monastery, Spituk is located at a distance of approximately 8 km from the town of Leh. The name "Spituk", meaning exemplary, has been derived from a statement of a translator, Rinchen Zangpo, about the monastery. He said that an exemplary religious community would develop there, providing the name Spituk for the monastery.
The people of Ladakh represent a blend of at least three distinct groups. Two of them were Aryans and third was of Mongols stock. The centuries old culture of Ladakh has found expression in its monuments, monasteries, mosques, Imambaras, oral literature, paintings, fairs, and festivals. The monasteries or gompas constitute the most interesting and fascinating feature of the cultural landscape. The exuberance, gaity, colorfulness, and pageantry associated with religious, social, and seasonal festivals make them great occasions of rejoicing & joy. A prominent feature in the Ladakhi etiquette is the presentation of scarves known as khadags on all occasions. A Ladakhi female in full costume would create no small sensation amongst the fashionable dames of European capital." This remark made by Mooreraft, an Englishman in 1820-22 is true even today. Ladakh has undergone tremendous changes in post-independence India. People are now more prosperous economically, conscious socially, and advanced politically. However the forces of change and modern age today threaten the balance with the natural environment, which has been the basic characteristic of Ladakhi life.