Monasteries in Ladakh are much more than religious centres. Located in heaven that Ladakh is, these famous monasteries are purifying havens where one can find inner peace. Include them in the itinerary as you plan a trip to Leh Ladakh to enjoy the splendid and spectacular topographical medley comprising snow-capped mountains, sprawling cold deserts, sparkling lakes, surreal glaciers, and serene mountain passes.
Ladakh has a surreal beauty that allures and fascinates everyone. Ladakh has an amazing history and sparkling heritage too. The monasteries in Ladakh, India are breath-taking and enchanting structures that still hold the Buddhist heritage alive and fresh.
Top 19 Monasteries In Ladakh
Monasteries is one of the best places to visit if you are looking to indulge in meditation, want to find inner peace, or solemnity. Here is the list of monasteries in Ladakh that you must visit on your vacation here to have a peaceful and soul-stirring experience.
- Hemis Monastery – Spiritual Trip
- Thiksey Monastery – Find Peace
- Diskit Monastery – Ancient And Unique
- Likir Monastery – Picturesque
- Spituk Monastery – Magnificent
- Stakna Monastery – Amazing Views
- Alchi Monastery – Beautiful
- Phyang Monastery – Peaceful And Serene
- Takthok Monastery – Architectural Marvel
- Sumda Chun Monastery – Oldest Monastery
- Lamayuru Monastery – Ancient And Beautiful
- Phugtal Monastery – Worthwhile Stay
- Shey Monastery – Peaceful Meditation
- Rizong Monastery – Famous And Renowned
- Matho Monastery – Exclusive
- Karma Dupgyud Choeling Monastery – Peaceful
- Rangdum Gompa – Inspiring Buddhism
- Samstanling Monastery – Marvellous Beauty
- Wanla Gompa – Picturesque
1. Hemis Monastery – Spiritual Trip
Built during the rule of the King Singge Namgyal, Hemis is one of the largest and most popular monasteries in Ladakh. This is also one of the wealthiest Buddhist monasteries in Leh and Tibet and shares its origin with Naropa- an Indian Buddhist who attained enlightenment here.
This is one of the most charming Buddhist monasteries in Leh Ladakh, managed and run by the Drukpa sect of Buddhism. Hemis monastery in Ladakh boasts of a spectacular copper statue of Buddha and beautiful paintings, Stupas, articles, and amazing Thangkas depicting various aspects of Buddhist culture. This is one of the most popular monastery in Nubra Valley.
Key attractions of Hemis Monastery: 12m long Thanka- which is largest in Ladakh and the Hemis Festival – celebrated during June-July. Dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava, the festival is best known for masked dance performances.
How to reach Hemis Monastery: It is 40 km southeast of Leh and takes about 1½ hours by a private cab. Taxis coming via Srinagar-Leh highway to Leh can be extended up to Hemis.
Traveling 122 km east of the Hemis will present you with the surreal view of Pangong Tso lake, one of the most exciting things to visit in Ladakh!
2. Thiksey Monastery – Find Peace
Resembling the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, Thiksey is one of the beautiful Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh. Snuggled at an altitude of 11,800 feet, this monastery is looked after by the people of Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect. It comprises a 12-storey building complex and houses more than 500 monks. Thiksey monastery in Ladakh has a large and precious collection of Buddhist books, journals, statues, scripts, stupas, swords, and Thangka paintings.
Thiksey is one of the monasteries to stay in ladakh if you wish to spend some time in peace and tranquil.
Key attractions of Thiksey Monastery: 49 ft statue of Maitreya Buddha- largest in entire Ladakh and Dukhang Karmo – a huge long assembly hall
How to reach Thiksey Monastery: It is 19 km from Leh and can be reached by a private cab. Frequent bus service is available during festivals and other times. These buses ply once a day in the morning.
3. Diskit Monastery – Ancient And Unique
There are many Ladakh monasteries to stay at and the next is one of the best among them. Located in the beautiful Nubra Valley– Diskit is one of the most beautiful and the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh, founded in 14th century by Changzem Tsera Zangpo. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect (Yellow Hat) of Tibetan Buddhism and has various Buddha statues, images of other guardian Gods, and a huge drum.
Owing to the breathtaking location, this one of the famous monasteries in Ladakh offers solemn serenity and inner peace.
Key attractions of Diskit Monastery: Festival of Scapegoat or Dosmoche festival, mask dance during the festival, and Jampa Buddha statue. One must also experience the Morning Prayer ceremony held there.
How to reach Diskit Monastery: It is 150 km north of Leh in the Nubra Valley and takes about 4 and a half hours via Khardung La road in privately hired vehicles. The roads are dusty and bumpy and the drive is quite challenging.
4. Likir Monastery – Picturesque
Likir Monastery, popular as Likir Gompa was founded by Lama Duwang Chosje in the 14th century. According to Buddhist mythology, this is the first construction by the Tibetan monks. The museum located inside the monastery showcases a wide array of Tibetan artifacts and relics.
Key attractions of Likir Monastery: Likir Dosmoche Festival- on the 12th month of Tibetan Calendar and preaching of Pratimoksha disciplines
How to reach Likir Monastery: Located 53 km west of Leh in the Likir village in the Indus Valley. Along with taxis, many buses travel between Leh and Likir from 5 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon.
5. Spituk Monastery – Magnificent
Spituk Monastery was founded by Od-Ide in the 11th century. Today it is home to a hundred monks. Spituk has three-chapels namely Stok, Sankar and Saboo and consists of ancient memorials, idols, frescoes, statues and religious scriptures.
Key attractions of Spituk Monastery: A temple dedicated to Vajrabhairava Deity, which accessible to visitors only during Gustor Festival and sacred idol of Amitayus.
How to reach Spituk Monastery: 11 km from the main town of Leh and 3.4 km from Leh Airport, it is located in Spituk village. You can take a private cab from Leh or any of the locally available conveyance.
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6. Stakna Monastery – Amazing Views
Stakna- locally known as Tiger’s Nose is a small and serene monastery, founded during the reign of King Jamyang Namgyal in 1580. Located on the left bank of Indus River and perched on a hill, Stakna monastery in Leh Ladakh offers amazing and jaw-dropping views of the Indus valley.
Stakna is a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh which houses numerous paintings, idols, and Buddhist scriptures, and has many sister monasteries like in Zanskar-Bardan, Stakrimo, and Sani.
Key attractions of Stakna Monastery: Statue of Arya Avaloketesvara, Dukhang Assembly Hall with paintings of Sakyamuni, Tsephakmad, and Amchi, silver gilded chorten with Buddha picture and paintings of Bodhisattva, Tshong-san-Gompa, and Padma Sambhava.
How to reach Stakna Monastery: 25 km from Leh by the banks of Indus River, Stakna can be reached by boarding a local bus. Services are available on daily basis starting early morning.
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7. Alchi Monastery – Beautiful
Alchi Choskor Monastery is a branch of Likir raised by Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo. It is one of the largest and most reputed monasteries of Ladakh. Its complex comprises of three sections- Dukhang, Sum-tsek, and the temple of Manjushri.
Unlike others, Alchi is located on a plain land and boasts of ancient sculptures, books, paintings, and figurines. Alchi Monastery in Ladakh is ne of the most popular attractions here.
Key attractions of Alchi Monastery: Sum-tsek- three-story temple, four armed huge Bodhisattva statue, white Avalokiteshvara statue, an idol of Maitreya Buddha, and Jampe Lhakhang Temple.
How to reach Alchi Monastery: From Leh, travel towards the banks of Indus River off Leh – Srinagar road for 70 km to reach this age-old monastery. Private cabs are the best options.
8. Phyang Monastery – Peaceful And Serene
Phyang Gompa belongs to the red hat sect of Buddhism and is perhaps the most impressive monastery in Leh Ladakh. It is located on a hilltop and thus offers stunning views of the surrounding.
This white and ochre-colored structure is one of the must-visit monasteries in Ladakh and is an important hub of Digung teachings. The wall paintings at Phyang Gompa depict Buddhist culture and heritage.
Key attractions of Phyang Monastery: 900-year old museum depicting thangkas, different idols, Mongolian, Tibetan and Chinese weaponry and guns, Gang-Sngon Tsedup Festival, and Sacred Dance Festival
How to reach Phyang Monastery: 40 km from Leh, cabs take 1 hour 20 minutes to reach this monastery. From Leh, travel towards War Memorial, reach Spituk and then travel further 10 km to reach Phyang village.
9. Takthok Monastery – Architectural Marvel
Located in Ladakh’s Sakti Village- Takthok is the only monastery of the Nyingmapa tradition. It is one of the most famous monasteries in Ladakh and houses close to 55 lamas. It possesses an amazing architectural style with rocky walls and roofs, central courtyard, assembly hall, beautiful frescos, murals, and the holy throne of His Holiness Dalai Lama. The 108 volumes of Kandshur teachings of Buddha are preserved here.
Key attractions of Takthok Monastery: Meditation cave of Padmasambhava and Statues of Future Buddha, Dorje and Takposal.
How to reach Takthok Monastery: It is 50 km from Leh and can be reached by bus or a cab. Snowfall and bad weather may hamper the road travel.
10. Sumda Chun Monastery – Oldest Monastery
Again, one of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh – Sumda Chun Monastery was founded by Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo. This vintage construction comprises of three temples and a huge assembly hall.
Key attractions of Sumda Chun Monastery: Image of four headed Vairocana and murals of Ratnasambhava, Akshobhya, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi
How to reach Sumda Chun Monastery: 65 km away from Leh, Sumda Chun can be reached by private cabs only, as bus service is not available. However, the road is motorable up to Sumda. From there, the track is rugged and bumpy and descends along a stream to reach the gompa.
11. Lamayuru Monastery – Ancient And Beautiful
Founded in th 11th century, Lamayuru is one of the oldest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh. The monastery is located on steep mountain, the monastery is renowned as ‘Tharpa Ling’ which translattes to the ‘place of freedom’. Every 5th month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar, a holy mask dance is performed by the monks inside the monastery which is a great spectacle.
Key attractions of Lamayuru Monastery: The first temple of Singhe Ghang and the picturesque Lamayaru Village
How to reach Lamayaru Monastery: It is 27 km away from Leh perched on a hilltop. The only way to reach here is to hire a cab. It can also be visited on the way to Leh from Srinagar.
12. Phugtal Monastery – Worthwhile Stay
It is one of the remotest Tibetan monasteries in Ladakh as it is located on a hilltop at the mouth of a cave. The drive alone to Phugtal Monastery is mesmerizing. The rugged and eerie structures of mountains will make you feel like you are driving through the honeycomb. Along with having a library and prayer rooms, you will also find a natural cave here were many sages and scholars have meditated. The divine aura of this place will leave you speechless. It is also one of the most popular monasteries in Ladakh.
Key attractions of Phugtal Monastery: The natural cave and the astounding views of Lugnak Valley
How to reach Phugtal Monastery: Trekking is the only way to reach the top of the hill where the monastery is located.
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13. Shey Monastery – Peaceful Meditation
The reasons why you should visit this monastery are plenty. The monastery currently houses the largest statue of Buddha made of gold as tall as three floors of a building. You will also find wax bowl in front of the statue which is lit for a year before it is replaced with the new one. The beautiful murals and paintings adorn the walls of the monastery. And, remember the Rancho School that became famous after the movie 3 idiots? Well, it is near the monastery.
Key attractions of Shey Monastery: The large golden Buddha statue, Rancho School, Buddhas carved out of rock
How to reach Shey Monastery: The monastery is located between the famous Hemis & Thiksey Monastery, just 16 km away from Leh town.
14. Rizong Monastery – Famous And Renowned
It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava along with his disciples meditated in isolation in a cave near Rizong where they survived with only a meal in a day. Overlooking the breathtaking Indus Valley, this place is known as a paradise for meditation. The monks spend a life of abstinence living with a strict lifestyle.
Key attractions of Rizong Monastery: There is also a nunnery or Chomoling where females worship and conduct chores like spinning wool, milking, and getting oil for worship.
How to reach Rizong Monastery: It is located 73 km from Leh and can be reached by car.
15. Matho Monastery – Exclusive
Situated on the banks of the Indus River, this is the only monastery that follows the Sakya Sect of Buddhism. The monastery was constructed 500 years ao and you will find an impressive collection of ancient Thangas and statues. The walls of the monastery are adorned with beautiful paintings and murals. It is also one of the most photographed monasteries in Ladakh.
Key attractions of Matho Monastery: Nagrang Festival, acts of oracles and Cham dances.
How to reach Matho Monastery: It is easily accessible by car.
16. Karma Dupgyud Choeling Monastery – Peaceful
Karma Dupgyud Choeling Monastery is one of the major Dharma centres in Ladakh. It is located 9 kms away from Leh and was founded in 1973 by Lama Chime Dorje Rinpoche. The Karmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhists overlooks the administration and operations of this monastery. This is one of the top monasteries in Ladakh as it has played an important role in the expansion of Buddhist culture.
Key attractions of Karma Dupgyud Choeling Monastery: The meditation halls and the overall architecture of the monastery is a treat to eyes.
How to reach Karma Dupgyud Choeling Monastery: The distance between Leh and monastery is 9 Kms which can be covered by bus or taxi
17. Rangdum Gompa – Inspiring Buddhism
Situated between Kargil and Padum is the Rangdum Gompa at an altitude of 11,998 feet above sea level. Founded in the 18th century by Losang Geleg Yeshe Drogpa, this is one of the top monasteries in Ladakh. The monastery is established on an ascending mountain and around the mountain stream. The monastery gives a look of an ancient fort which is guarding the mystical mountain valley. The monastery is home to almost 30 monks.
Key attractions of Rangdum Gompa: The architecture of the monastery is surreal. The meditation halls are amazing and peaceful.
How to reach Rangdum Gompa: One can take a bus or hire a taxi from Leh or Ladakh to reach this monastery
18. Samstanling Monastery – Marvellous Beauty
Founded by Lama Tsultim Nima in 1841, Samstanling monastery is located in the Nubra valley region in the village of Sumlur. Home to more than 50 monks, this monastery is at a distance of 124 kms from Leh. You will find that the monastery’s entrance is decorated with religious flags. The insides of the monastery is full of paintings that represent Buddha and his lectures such as Dharmachakra and the Four Heavenly Kings.
Key attractions of Samstanling Monastery: The tourists are welcomed by a young 7 year old boy who ties threads on their wrist and blesses them with solemnity.
How to reach Samstanling Monastery: Buses and taxis can be used to reach the Sumur village from Ladakh. From there it is a hike of 45 mins to reach the monastery.
19. Wanla Gompa – Picturesque
Wanla Gompa is a historic Buddhist monastery that is located in Wanla village and was built around 1000 AD. It is known as the oldest monastery in Ladakh, India. It is believed that Lama Rinchen Zangpo, a saint, built this monastery and translated the teachings of Buddha into Tibetan. There are 108 other monasteries that fall in the same category as this monastery. Among all the Ladakh monasteries, this is perfect for enjoying a panaromic view of the region.
Key attraction of Wanla Gompa: Three-storied image of 11-headed Mahakaruna along with many paintings of Buddha, Mandalas, and Bodhisattvas.
How to reach Wanla Gompa: From Ladakh buses ply on the route of Wanla Gompa. Alternatively, you can also hire a taxi to reach here at your convenience.
With so many Buddhist monasteries, Leh Ladakh is your ultimate stop to seek salvation and meaning in life. If you have missed these heavenly abodes during the last Ladakh vacation- do include them in the next trip to Ladakh. These monasteries in Ladakh are surreal, serene and absolutely stunning.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Monasteries In Ladakh
Is it safe to visit Ladakh in the upcoming months?
As the tourism industry is slowly reopening, you can visit most of the above-mentioned places and more if traveling in a small group while following all the guidelines released. But don’t take our word for it: check up on the latest travel advisory, Covid-19 measures, and the number of cases before your departure. It is safer to undertake solo travel or with a small group of people to somewhere that is not overly crowded at the moment or has few reported cases.
Which is the oldest monastery in Ladakh?
Lamayuru is the oldest monastery in Ladakh. This is one of the best examples of Eastern Tibetan architecture found in India. Leh is predominantly Buddhist, and the architecture is greatly influenced by that of Tibet. An entry fee of ₹50 is collected to see the space.
What is the altitude of Ladakh?
The altitude of Ladakh is 3,500 m. It is the highest settlement in India and is served by River Indus.
Which is the capital of Ladakh?
Leh and Kargil are the capital of Ladakh. They are also some of the most populated metropolis cities that travellers often visit to experience the charm of city life in these regions.
When did Ladakh become part of India?
Ladakh become part of India in 1947. In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed an act by which Ladakh became a union territory on 31 October 2019.
Which is the largest monastery in Ladakh?
Diskit Monastery is the largest one in Ladakh. It is also one of the most popular places visited by travellers touring Ladakh.
What is Ladakh famous for?
Ladakh is famous for its picturesque beauty, unique culture, Buddhist monasteries and exciting adventure spots.
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