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Alchi Monastery

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Alchi Choskor is a religious enclave located 69 km west of Leh. It is the most famous and largest of all the Gonpa built by the great translator Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055). The oldest monuments preserved here dates back to the middle of the 12th century. The significance of the monastery also lies in the fact that it is the only one built on a flat ground. The monastery has some splendid wall paintings. One of its walls features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. Alchi monastery is classified World Heritage by UNESCO.

Bardan Monastery Zanskar

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Bardan Monastery is found 10km south of Padum in Zanskar. It is an impressive monastery clinging to a huge rock overlooking the Tsarap River. It was founded by Lama Dewa Gyatso in 17th century. It belongs to the Drukpa-Kagyu monastic order and was one of its first monasteries to be established in Zanskar. It is a branch of Stakna Gompa. Around 40 Monks resides here at present, the successive reincarnation of Stakna Rinpoche acts as the incumbent. The monastery also ran several smaller hermitages in the area. The monastery consists of a large Dukhang or assembly hall which has some grand statues of Buddhist figures and several small Stupas in clay, bronze, wood and copper.

Basgo

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Basgo, also known as Rabtan Chartse Khar, is situated 45km west of Leh. It used to the capital of lower Ladakh. The monastery was built by King Jamyang Namgyail and Singay Namgyail in 17th Century. Singay Namgyail made three-stores copper guilt of Maitreya Buddha, as a memorial for his father. There is also two other temples: Chamba Temple with the image of Maitreya on clay, and Cham Chung Temple. The latter was originally a mosque but was later transformed into a temple. In 2001, Basgo monastery was chosen as one of the 100 most endangered sites by UNESCO.

Chemrey Monastery

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Chemrey Monastery is located 40 km east of Leh. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was founded by Lama Stagstang Raspa and dedicated to King Singay Namgyail. Around 45 Monks resides here at present, the successive reincarnation of Lama Staktsang Rinpoche acts as the incumbent. The main attraction of the monastery is Du-khang (assembly hall), the museum and the one-store high statue of Guru Padmasambhava. The Chemrey Angchok festival of sacred dances takes place on the 28th and 29th day of the 9th month of the Tibetan calendar every year.

Diskit Monastery

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Diskit monastery is situated on a rocky hill above the flood plains of the Shyok River. The monastery belongs to the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in the 14th century by Lama Changsem Sherap Zangpo, a disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa. It is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley. A popular festival known as Dosmoche is held in the precincts of the monastery in February during the winter season. It is largely attended by people from the villages of the valley. Diskit monastery was given to the Rinpoche of Thiksey Monastery during 18th century during the reign of King Tashi Namgyail. It is still under the management of Thiksey monastery and hence, considered as a branch of Thiksey. On top of a hill below the monastery one can visit the impressive 32 meters high (106 ft) Chamba statue. Its construction started in April 2006 and it was consecrated by H.H. the Dalai Lama on 25 July 2010. Most of the funds came from local donations. The Stras Rinpoche, actual Head of the Gelukpa, Ganden Thipa, gave 8 kg of gold for its decoration. It is the first time a Ladakhi monk has been the head of the Gelukpa lineage.

Hanle Monastery

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Hanle Monastery is situated around 150 km from South of Leh. The monastery belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery is one of the largest and best known of Ladakhi monasteries. It was built in 17th century under the patronage of the Ladakhi king Singay Namgyail (1616-1642) with the assistance of the famous Tibetan lama and traveller Staktsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso. It was the first to be associated with the Drukpa Lineage and which, under the patronage of the Namgyail family, became very important in Ladakh. The monastery is home to about ten monks only.

Hemis Monastery

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Hemis Monastery is located around 45 km south of Leh. It is one of the largest, wealthiest, and most famous monasteries belonging to the Drukpa order. The monastery was founded by the 1st incarnation of Staktsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630. He was invited to Ladakh by King Singay Namgyail who offered him a religious estate throughout the region. The monastery has more than 200 branches with more than 500 monks in Ladakh. The Hemis festival on 9th, and 10th, day of the 5th, month (June/July) of Tibetan calendar attracts numerous visitors from across the world. It is possible to see the sacred appliqué work tapestry wrought with pearls which depicts the precious teacher Padmasambhava. Gotsang (Vulture Nest) is another small monastery situated around 3km uphill. It is a sacred hermitage founded by the great Gyalwa Kotsang many years before Hemis. This Gotsang is an old hermitage where the monks perform the traditional Buddhist meditation which lasts 3 years, 3 month, and 3 days.

Hundar Monastery

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Hundar is a village in the Leh district of Nubra, on the bank of Shyok River. It was once the capital of the former Nubra Kingdom. There are several ruined buildings, including the ruins of the King's palace, the Langchen Khar. There is a fort at the top of the hill, called Gula. Hundar also has two Buddhist temples: the White Temple (Lhakhang Karpo) and the Red Temple (Lhakhang Marpo). Between Hundar and Diskit lie sand dunes.

Karsha Chuchikjall Kachod Grubling Nunnery

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Karsha Chuchikjall Kachod Grubling, situated high above the village, is connected by a winding concrete pathway and a road. This nunnery is the largest in Zanskar with 28 nuns in the assembly - 20 currently residing there, while the rest are doing advanced studies in other parts of India. A large, well-decorated prayer hall is used daily for morning for prayers as well as all day for six days of the month and a 21-days puja in the spring. Nearby is a school building which contains two classrooms, a small kitchen, and a residential cell for the teacher. He is a monk supported by the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies. There are 27 young girls enrolled in the school from several nearby villages and courses include math, English, and Hindi. Also on-site is an Amchi (traditional Tibetan medicine) clinic available to the nuns and villagers. Stunning views of the surrounding valley and mountains as well as views of the famous Karsha Monastery await visitors.

Karsha Monastery

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Karsha monastery, also known as Chamspaling, is the biggest, richest and most important monastery of the Zanskar region. Phagspa Sheyrab, the great translator of Zanskar, founded this monastery in 11th century. The monastery, as it stands today, was the result of the efforts of the teacher Lama Dorjey Sheyrab. It was under him only that the monastery flourished and prospered. Sheyrab Zangpo of Stod was the one who introduced the Gelukpa order in Karsha. Around 120monks reside in this monastery and the Ngari Rinpoche Stenzin Chosgyal, the younger brother of the H.H. Dalai Lama, is the supreme head of the monastery. The Gompa consists of a number of shrines and boasts of some of the most exquisite wall paintings, includes the bone relics of renowned holy Abbot Lama Dorjey Rinchen. The Gustor Festival is celebrated at Karsha every year, on the 28th and 29th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar. The celebrations also include the performance of the sacred dance.

Korzok Monastery

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Korzok is a three-hundred years old monastery founded by the 3rd Korzok Rinpoche, Kunga Lodro Ningpo, better known as Langna Tulku. The monastery belongs to the Drukpa Lineage. It is located in the Korzok village, on the northwestern bank of Tsomoriri Lake.It is home to about 70 monks. In the past, the monastery was the headquarters of the Rupshu Valley. It is an independent monastery under Langna Tulku. Korzok monastery as seen now is said to have been re-built in the 19th century on the right bank of Tsomoriri. The old monastery was built on a gentle slope, unlike other monasteries that are generally perched on hill tops. A number of Chortens are also seen near the monastery. The Korzok Gustor festival is held at the monastery and attracts many visitors.The festivals lasts for two days in July/August every year.

Lamayuru Monastery

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Lamayuru ancient monastery is the main seat of the Drikung Kagyu the lower part of Ladakh. The monastery, also known as Yungdrung Tharpaling, is located approximately 127 km to the west of Leh. The history of the monastery begins with the visit of Arahat Nimagung to this place, where there was merely a lake here. It is said that Arahat made a prophecy that "a monastery will come up at this spot" and he made offerings (prayer with grains of corn) to the Naga serpent spirits. The corns mixed with the earth and formed in the shape of Swastika (Yungdrung). Mahasiddha Naropa (1016–1100) then visited the place. He spent a long time in strict retreat in a cave there and turned the place into a sacred land. The cave still exists. The great translator Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo built five temples in Lamayuru during the 11th century. During the 16th century, when Demma Kunga Drakpa came to Ladakh upon invitation of King Tashi Namgyail, he was offered a little palace the king owned at Lamayuru. In 1834 Ladakh was invaded by Zorawar Singh who was the general of the army of King Gulab Singh of Jammu. During the invasion many of the monks of Lamayuru monastery were killed. The monastery was completely ruined and the main shrine was turned into a stall for horses. The actual building of Lamayuru monastery was built in 1904. Lamayuru Monastery is home to 350 monks, all under the spiritual guidance of H.E. Choje Togden Rinpoche.

Likir Monastery

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Likir Monastery is located approximately 52km west of Leh. It is picturesquely situated on a little hill in the valley. Likir Monastery was established in 1065 by Lama Duwang Chosjey, under the command of the 5th king of Ladakh, Lhachen Gyalpo. As a meditation practitioner, the Lama blessed the site and the monastery was built. The name Likir means "The Naga - Encircled" as it stands encircled by the bodies of the two great serpent spirits. In 15th century, Likir Monastery was flourishing under Lhawang Lotus Sangphu, the disciple of Khastubjey. It was then brought under the Tsongkhapa Order and continues to be so till date. The monastery currently is home to approximately 120 Buddhist monks and a school, in which almost thirty students study. The Central Institute of Buddhist Studies Choglamsar runs it and teaches in three languages, Hindi, Sanskrit and English. The monastic festival Likir Dosmochey and Chams sacred dances take place on the 28th and 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. The monastery is also known for the 75ft statue of future Buddha Maitreya completed in 19 century.

Lingshed Monastery

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Lingshed Monastery is located on the trekking trail from Lamayuru to Padum Zanskar. Lingshed, also known as Kumbum, means 'A Hundred Thousand Images’. It belongs to the Gelukpa of school Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was founded by Changsem Sheyrab Zangpo, disciple of Lama Tsongkhapa the founder of Gelukpa School in 1440. In 1779, the Ladakhi king Tsewang Namgyail donated the lands of Lingshed and for others monasteries such as Karsha, Mune, Phuktal and Rangdum to Lobzang Gelek Yeshe Dragpa, the 3rd incarnate of the Ngari Rinpoche lineage. Jangchub Tensung Dorjey Centre was founded in Lingshed by Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche in 1994.The monastery is home of around 70 monks and the Ngari Rinpoche Stenzin Chosgyal, the younger brother of the H.H. Dalai Lama, is the supreme head of Lingshed Monastery.

Mangyu Monastery

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Mangyu Monastery is located about 80 km from Leh. Traditionally, the creation of the Mangyu is attributed to the famous scholar-translator Lama Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo (958–1055) in the 11th century, along with the Lamayuru Monastery, Wanla, Sumda Chun and the famous Alchi Monastery. Monastery is also constructed on flat like Alchi and Tabo monastery in Spiti. The monastery comprises of four temples. The smaller temples, on each side of the main temple have a statue of Avaloketesvara and Maitreya in the standing posture. The right side temple has a statue of a four-headed Vairocana, as the main image. Unfortunately some of the wall paintings were lost and some were repainted in the past, especially those in the Vairocana temple. But still there are good quality authentic paintings on this site; the monastery tries to conserve them without any repainting/retouching. Architectural conservation of all the temples and chapels and conservation of paintings of Sakyamuni temple were carried out by the Architectural and Material Heritage divisions of the Delhi. The project carried out in five seasons was funded by Shinnyo-en.

Matho Moastery

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Matho Monastery from the Tibetan word "mang" means "many" and "tro" means "happiness" is located 26 km southeast of Leh. Matho Monastery was founded in 1410 by Lama Tungpa Dorjey. The significance of this monastery lies in it being the only one that belongs to the Sakyapa order of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. One of the main attractions is Matho Nagrang Festival is held on 14th and 15th day of the 1st month of Tibetan calendar. During this festival, two oracles, known as "Rongtsan", are said to inhabit for a few hours the body of two monks. Most of the constructions in the monastery are new. From the gompa, one will gaze at a breathtaking view of the landscape and Indus valley. Its museum is well maintained and worth a visit. It has the collection of old instruments, statues, holy books and beautiful old thangkas. They are believed to be brought from Tibet in 16th century. The monastery houses about 60 monks.

Mulbekh Monastery

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Mulbekh is a village located in the Kargil district of Ladakh on the Srinagar - Leh highway. It is a beautiful place to soak in the tranquillity of the mountains. The rock statue of Maitreya Buddha 9 meters high attracts thousands of visitors each year as it was carved during 2nd century. It represents an important part of Gandhara Arts. It is one the oldest monuments of Ladakh. Near the Maitreya rock idol, are ancient edicts inscribed on the mountain in Kharoshti script, an ancient Indic script used by the Gandhara culture. Two small monasteries are found in Mulbhek, one Drukpa Kagyu and one Gelukpa.

Mune Monastery

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Mune monastery, also known as Disketling, was founded by the Lama Sheyrab Zangpo in 15th century. About 25 monks are residing in the monastery. There are many secret shrines and relics to see in this Gelukpa gompa.

Phiyang Monastery

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Phiyang Monastery, situated 20 km. west of Leh, is remarkably built on a hilltop. It was founded during reign of King Jamyang Namgyail in 16th century. Similarly to Lamayuru Monastery, Phiyang Monastery belongs to the Digungpa order of Tibetan Buddhism, which was founded by Skyoba Jigsten Gonbo. The sites of the monastery were offered by King Jamyang Namgyail to Chosjey Demma Kunga. Within the monastery are sacred shrines and various wall paintings which date back to the royal period. It has about 50 monks in residence under the spiritual guidance of H.E. Choje Togden Rinpoche. Phiyang also has a festival called 'Phiyang Tseruk' on the 2nd & 3rd of the 6th month of Tibetan Calendar.

Phuktal Monastery

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Phuktal Monastery is located in the remote Lungnak Valley in south-eastern Zanskar. Phuktal Gompa owes its distinguished legacy of powerful scholars and teachers to a cave, which has long been a place of retreat, meditation, learning, and teaching. The name Phuktal comesfrom the two words “Phuk” meaning cave, and “tal” meaning “at leisure”. A second spelling of Phuktal is Phukthar “thar” meaning liberation. The Phuktal Monastery is built around this natural cave. Among the earliest residents of Phuktal cave, Lama Marpa the teacher of great Milarepa stayed in the Phuktal cave in the 12th century. The great scholar and Tibetan translator Lotsawa Phagspa Sheyrab lived and worked there as well. The present Phuktal Gompa, of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, was established in the early 15th century by Changsem Sherap Zangpo, a disciple of Tsongkhapa. The yearly Gustor festival is held in winter times on 28th and 29th days of the 12th Tibetan month. This festival is one of the most important festivals at Phuktal Gompa. It signals the end of the Tibetan year. In the monastery there are 70 monks in residence. In the early 19th century, the Hungarian scholar and linguist Alexander Csoma de Kőrös, while working on the first Tibetan-English dictionary, studied at Phuktal Gompa with his Tibetan tutor.

Rangdum Monastery

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Rangdum is located midway between Kargil and Padum. It is about 100 kilometres from Kargil. Rangdum Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Gelukpa order, situated on top of a small but steep sugarloaf hill at an altitude of 4,031M. According to an inscription the monastery was built by Gelek Ishay Takpa during the reign of King Tsewang Namgyail of Ladakh about 200 years ago. The monastery is home to about 30 monks and the Ngari Rinpoche Stenzin Choegyal the younger brother of the H.H. Dalai Lama is the supreme head of the monastery.

Rizong Monastery

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Rizong Monastery ( ri : mountain, zong : heaven) is located around 76 km west of Leh, and north of the Indus River from Uletokpo village. It is hidden behind overlapping mountain that echoes the folds of the monk robes that inhabit the monastery. It was established in 1833 by Lama Tsultim Nima under the Gelukpa order. Before the monastery was a hermitage for teaching the Buddhist philosophy to the monks, with a strict regimen of a celibate life suited to the monastic order. The “Vinaya Rules” to be followed by each monk who meditated here. It is also believed that long ago Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the caves around Rizong. There are 40 monks in the monastery under the spiritual guidance of Sras Rinpoche, supreme head of Gelukpa School. Tsultim Nima, his wife, his sister, and son all renounced the worldly life. His wife and sister becomes nun in the nearby associated nunnery Chulichan. Chomoling, located about 2 km from the monastery where, at present, 20 nuns reside.

Samstanling Monastery

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Samstanling Monastery, ‘Sanctuary of meditative concentration’, is situated 130 km north of Leh. It is the second largest gompa in the Nubra Valley. It is a recent institution, established in 1833 by Lama Tsultim Nima. Samstanling is dedicated to the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism and famous for its strict discipline. Approximately 55 monks reside there under the spiritual guidance of Sras Rinpoche, the current supreme head of Gelukpa School. The monastery has as many as seven temples which were inaugurated by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 1962

Sani Monastery

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Sani Monastery is situated on the way to Kargil, at a distance of approximately 6 km on the west of Padum. Sani Monastery is the branch of the Drukpa Kagyu School. The monastery was erected during the 2nd century during the reign of the great Kushan king, Kanishka. This belief finds strength from the presence of the Kanishka Stupa which still stands in the backyard of the Sani Monastery complex. It is further believed that Sani is one of the eight holy Buddhist site in the world which was the reason why the eminent personalities associated with the Himalayan Buddhism like Padma Sambhava, Naropa and Marpa, all paid a visit to Sani It is believed that the great yogi Naropa meditated under the Kanishka Stupa, situated in the backyard of the monastery. This spot is now a small room with a veiled bronze statue of the Naropa. Every year the statue is unveiled in the month July during the festival of Sani Nasjal. The bronze statue of Naropa is unveiled for the people who seek blessings. A small chapel at the back of the main building preserves beautiful frescoes and stucco murals. They depict landscapes as well as floral designs along with the life of Padmasambhava. The monastery’s Dukhang (assembly hall) is said to be constructed in the early 17th century. Outside the walls of the monastery complex, lays an old cemetery which is considered one amongst the eight most important cremation ground for Tibetan Buddhists.

Sankar Monastery

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Sankar Gompa is a 90 years old monastery. It is located on the site of a small temple founded by the first incarnation of Skyabje Bakula Rinpoche about 500 years ago. The monastery belongs to the Gelukpa School of Tibetan Buddhism. About 25 monks are attached to Sankar but only a few live here permanently. Thus, it is only open to the public from 7 to 10 am and from 5 to 7 p.m. It is a daughter0 of Spituk Monastery and the residence of the Abbot of Spituk, the Venerable Kushok Bakula Rinpoche. The interior of the Gompa has many statues and old paintings on its walls. The rich heritage and culture exhibited through art forms were amazing. The monastery is also one among the few residential Gompa within the city of Leh. Most gompas are built in remote places on hills and mountain tops. Sankar Gompa lays hidden under canopies of poplar trees and labyrinths of streets and houses.

Shey Palace and Monastery

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Shey is located 15 km south of Leh. Shey was once the residence of the royal family and the ancient capital of Ladakh. The fortress was constructed on a hillrock by the first king of Ladakh, Lhachen Spalgyigon. Its ruins can be seen further above the present Shey Palace. The present palace mostly in ruins now was built by Deldan Namgyail in the beginning of 17th century. The main attraction is the 12 meters high Buddha statue made of copper guilt. It was built by King Deldan Namgyail in the memory of his father Singay Namgyail during the 17th century. The statue is the only of its kind in the region. When the Dogras of Jammu invaded Ladakh in 1842, the Namgyail abandoned the palace and fled to Stok which is still they current residence. Shey Monastery hosts two yearly seasonal festivals. The first one is held in Shey Palace on the 26th and 27th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. This festival is called “Shey Rhulhoo”. The second one is called the “Shey Strupla” and marks the harvesting season. On this occasion, farmers offer the first fruits of the corn at the monastery. A dance called the “Gyalta dance” is performed by two men in tiger costumes. Other forms of folk dances are also performed.

Spituk Monastery

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The Spituk Gompa is located 8 km from Leh. It was founded in 11th century by Od-De, the elder brother of Lama Changchub-od, on his visit to Maryul. He introduced the monastic community. When the great translator Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo came to that place, he stated that an exemplary religious community would arise there and so the monastery was called Spithub which means “exemplary”. During the time of King Takpa Bumlde, the monastery was restored by Lama Lhawang Lotus and the stainless order of Tsongkhapa was introduced and it has remained intact as such till present. Founded as a Red Hat institution, the monastery was taken over by the Yellow Hat sect in the 15th century. The main statue of Lord Buddha holds a secret image of Amitayus, about the finger size. It was a presented to King Takpa Bumlde from Tsongkhapa. A little above the monastery, on the hill, is another shrine with Vajrabhairava as its presiding deity. Every year the Spituk festival takes place on the 28th and 29th of the 11th month of Tibetan Calendar. The face of the deity is shown to devotees during the annual festival. There are about 150 monks residing in the monastery. The incumbent of the monastery is the successive reincarnations of Skyabje Bakula Rinpoche.

Stakna Monastery

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Stakna stands for “tiger nose” referring to the shape of the hill it is built on. It is located approximately 30 km from south of Leh. The monastery was founded in the second half of the 16th century by Chosjey Jamyang Palkar, a great scholar saint from Bhutan, during the reign of King Jamyang Namgyail. The Stakna Gompa belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. The most important statue in the monastery is said to represent Arya Avaloketesvara. Stakna is the residence of approximately 30 monks. The successive reincarnations of Stakna Rinpoche act as the incumbents of Stakna Monastery and spread the teachings of Drukpa Kagyu order. Sani, Barden and Stakrimo monasteries are branches of Stakna.

Stok Palace and Monastery

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Stok is a village located 14 kms southeast of Leh. It is the actual resident of the royal family (Namgyail dynasty of Ladakh). King Tsespal Tondup Namgyail built Stok palace in 1825. When the Dogras of Jammu invaded Ladakh in 1842, the Namgyail abandoned their palace in Shey and decided to move to Stok. The palace was opened to public in 1980 with blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and visitors have been pouring from all over the world ever since. At present the palace has a collection of royal dresses, old Thangkas, the king's crown, the queen’s Payrak head gear, jewelleries and many more.

Stongday Monastery

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Stongday Monastery is situated 20 km from Padum. Stongday is the second largest monastic institution in Zanskar after Karsha Monastery. The monastery was founded in 1052 by renowned Lama Marpa and it is also known as Marpaling Monastery. Lama Gyal Stanba Lundup Spalzangpo introduced the Gelukpa order approximately four centuries after its establishment. This beautiful monastery is located on a hilltop like most of monasteries in Ladakh. From there, you can relish magnificent views of the oasis-like valley and its village. The monastery houses around 60 monks under the spiritual guidance of Ngari Rinpoche Stenzin Choegyal, the younger brother of the H.H. Dalai. The monastery Gustor festival is held on the 28th and 29th of the eleventh month in the Tibetan calendar.

Sumda Chun

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Sumda Chun Monastery is around 65kms to the southwest of Leh, which is connected by a motorable road, upto Sumdo. Sumda Chun has been attributed to the period of Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo11th century and is believed to be one of the three temples founded by him in one night along with those at Alchi Monastery and Mangyu. The track starts ascending to the west, through a gorge from the left bank of the stream. At one point, the track crosses to the right bank and ascent becomes little more difficult. One or two houses come in the way before another gorge appears on the right which leads to the Sumda chon Monastery and towards the left leads to Sumda Chenmo. This track goes along the stream with plantations of willow trees. After an hour long hike, the monastery appears above the village houses. The monastery comprises three temples. The assembly hall has the image of four headed Vairocana, as the central image. It is nicely decorated and probably better than the Alchi and the Mangu monasteries. The wall has murals of four Dyani Buddhas: Ratnasambhava, Akshobhya, Amitabha, Amogasiddhi and Vairocana. Sumda Chun was listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites in World Monument Funds 2006 Watch List.

Takthok Monastery

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Takthok Monastery also known as Dhag Thog is a Buddhist monastery located Sakti village, 55 kilometres east of Leh. It is the only monastery belonging to the Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery came into existence when Guru Padma Sambhava, the great Indian master visited this place and blessed during the 8th century. The name Takthok, literally meaning 'rock-roof' . The monastery was founded by Mahasiddha Kunga Phunstog and introduced monastic community around the mid-16th century during the reign of Tsewang Namgyail. It has been built on a mountainside around the cave in which Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the 8th century. The Takthok festival is hold here every year on the 9th and 10th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar. Approximately 55 monks reside in the monastery under the spiritual guidance of Skyabje Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, the head of the oldest tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Thiksey Monastery

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The Thiksey Gompa is situated 20 km south of Leh. It is one of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh, it belongs to the Gelukpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Sheyrab Zangpo of Stod got the Thiksey Monastery built for the first time, at Stakmo. However, later Spon Paldan Sheyrab, the nephew of Sheyrab Zangpo, reconstructed the monastery in the year 1430. The new monastery was erected on a hilltop, to the north of Indus River. One of the main attractions is the gigantic statue of Maitreya Buddha, the largest of its kind in Ladakh, it is covering two stores of the building. He is unusually portrayed as seated in the lotus position rather than standing or in a sitting posture on a high throne. It took four years to complete it and was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in July 1980. Thiksey Gompa serves as the residence of eighty monks under the spiritual guidance the successive reincarnations of the Skyabje Khanpo Rinpoche Nawang Chamba Stenzin. The monastery hosts to Gustor ritual, organized from the 17th to 19th day of the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar. Sacred dances also form a part of this ritual, which takes place on an annual basis.

Wanla Monastery

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Wanla Gompa is situated 120 km west of Leh. Wanla monastery is contemporary to the Alchi complex, Mangyu and Sumda Chun monasteries also built by Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo in the early 11th century. Locals and people from different parts of Ladakh come to Wanla as a pilgrimage. Wanla architecture may be less exciting than other monasteries built by Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo during his mission of building 108 structures while travelling in the region. Wanla monastery, in many ways, reminds one of Alchi. The monastery comprises in total three structures are built on the narrow ridge of the hill. The whole complex is oriented north-south with breathtaking view of both sides. However only the middle structure is important to us, it is called the Sumtsek (“three stores”). In terms of its appearance and design, it is very similar to Sumtsek of Alchi. Wanla is a branch-monastery of Lamayuru which provides a caretaker monk responsible for daily rituals and for granting access to the temple.

Zangla Changchub Choling Nunnery

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The nunnery is situated just above Zangla village. About 20 nuns belong to Zangla and there is one abbess. The oldest nun is 93 years old. Only 12 nuns live at the nunnery and the remainders are doing advanced studies in other parts of India. The resident nuns are currently studying Tibetan grammar and writing with a teacher from Leh. Fifteen girls, ages 7 to 9 are attending the school at the nunnery sponsored by the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies. Their coursework includes math, English, Hindi, and Buddhist philosophy. ..etc The building is said to be 500 years old and sits on a small hill at the far end of Zangla, overlooking the village and a spectacular valley.

Zangla Palace

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Zangla is 35 km from Padum. Zangla was the ancient seat of the Zanskar kingdom. The old castle of Zangla, located atop a hill that once housed the royal family is now in ruins, however what still remains is a small chapel overlooking the quiet valley. The village of Zangla was under the rule of a king till few years ago. The royal family still lives in the village and travelers are always welcome to their house for a cup of tea and a chat with the king. The only intact part of the castle is a small Buddhist chapel that overlooks the entire valley. The castle is being redone by a Hungarian NGO which has done a marvelous job using the same ancient methods of construction. In 1823, Hungarian scholar Alexander Csoma de Kőrös took a room in the little knoll-top fortress-palace at the edge of Zangla while compiling the first Western dictionary of Tibetan.

Zongkul Monastery

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Zongkhul Gompa is located in the Stod Valley of Zanskar. It belongs to the Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is built directly on a rock wall with two caves behind. Zongkul Monastery is said to be connected with Naropa, the famous Indian Yogi from Vikramshila. Indeed, it is believed that he even used the two caves of the monastery for the purpose of his solitary meditation. Even today, Impressions of Naropa's ceremonial dagger and staff are also said to be in the rocks in his meditation cave which attracts many pilgrims. One can see Naropa's footprint embedded in the rock and his sacred spring, located inside the meditation cave. After Naropa meditated here, the monastery became the sacred place for meditation for all the Mahasiddhas of Zanskar. Enlightened beings like Dubchen Kunga Gyatso, Dubchen Nawang Tsering, Zotpa Dorjey, Karmapa, Kunga Choslag have used Zongkhul for meditation purposes.

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