Monasteries of Ladakh
Duration: 7Nights / 8Days
Day 01 : ARRIVAL IN LEH
Upon arrival at Leh Airport you will met by Mountain trails representative and Welcome in traditional Ladakhi style and transfer to our pre-arranged hotel, rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize. Overnight stay at hotel
Leh City: The capital of Ladakh, at one time was a major stop on the Asian “Silk Route”. A stroll along the main bazar, observing the varied crowd and peering into the curio shops, is an entrancing experience. Chang Gali, behind the main bazar is less bustling but has intriguing little shops selling curios and jewelry like pearls, turquoise, coral, malachite, lapis and many other kinds of semi-precious stones, as well as curiously carved Yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls etc.
Day 02 : LEH
AM: Excursion Spituk & Hall of Fame
PM: Excursion to Sankar Gompa & Leh Palace
Post breakfast we depart for AM Sightseeing tour to Spituk
Spituk monastery was built in 15th century during the reign of Grags ‘bum-lde, these new Gelug-pa monastery was built like fortress on the summit of crags. Spituk lies some 5 kms south of Leh. Nesting at the foot of the crags are the flat-topped houses which go to form the village of Spituk.
Spituk or dpe-thub mean ‘effective as an Example’ and this is thus a suitable name for the first Gelug-pa monastery in Ladakh. Inside the monastery, which includes several courtyards and temples of various sizes, has been built at different levels, following the shape of the rock.
And also visit Hall of Fame near Leh is worth a visit for every citizen. It is a glorious museum constructed by Indian army. You can see the memorabilia, eminent defence personalities with biographies, images and weapons used during Kargil war and belongings of enemy soldiers found at war site. Another section of this building is entirely dedicated to Siachen and its heroes. On display are attires, multi layered shoes to keep their feet from frost bites, their daily instruments, their day to day food mainly frozen and packed, which is heated by lighting small balls of Hexamycin tablets, as fire is difficult to ignite at a temperature dipping -30 deg to -50 deg centigrade. It is mentioned on a board that 97% of the casualties in Siachen are due to cold and terrain.
Later we drive back to hotel on time for lunch
Later in the afternoon, guided sightseeing tour visiting Sankar Gompa, located at a distance of approximately 3 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. You can also go either between 7:00 am and 10:00 am, or between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. These restrictions have been placed because a few of the monks, of the yellow-hat sect, attached to the monastery reside here permanently.
Leh Palace is one of the most captivating architectural ruins that attract the attention of the tourists almost immediately with its majestic setting at the edge of the Namgyal hill and overlooking the town and at once looks like a reminiscent of Lhasa’s Potala Palace. The Palace was built in the middle of the 16th century by King Singe Namgyal and still belongs to the royal family that now lives in the Stok Palace. The nine-storeyed monument is now in ruins. The palace remains locked and may be opened at request by a monk
Leh Palace is also an excellent example of the medieval Tibetan architecture. It features colossal inclined buttressed walls and protruding wooden balconies.
Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 03 : LEH
Excursion to Shey, Thiksey, Stok
Today we proceed for Indus Valley monastery tour.
We start with a visit to Shey the ancient capital of Ladakh. The monastery here has a huge gold-gilded statue of Buddha Sakyamuni with a large silver lamp burning in front of the statue, built in the memory of King Singee Namgyal by his son lDeldan Namgyal in 1633 A.D. It is the only kind of statue made of Gold, Gilt and copper in entire Ladakh.
Then we visit Thiksey Gompa an impressive complex rising tier upon tier on a hill above the village. The monastery has a beautiful 30 m high gold-plated statue of Maitreya Buddha, the Buddha of the future is one of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh,.
Drive further to visit Stok Palace on the way, Stok lies south south of leh on the opposite side of the singe Tsangspo River. The castle was built on a hill at the end of village in about the year 1825 by king Tsespal Tondup Namgyal. In stok there is also the sacred monastery of Gurphug, a branch of Spituk Monastery. On the 9th and 10th days of the first tibeten month of the festival called the “Guru Tshechu” is held during which the monks of Spituk Monastery come to perform the sacred dances. At that time two gods make their appearance.
Day 04 : LEH-ALCHI
Enroute visiting: Phyang, Likir, Basgo
After breakfast we drive to Phyang, located 6 kms away from the Srinagar-Leh highway and 17 km from Leh. It was built during the reign of King Jamyang Namgyal in late 15th century by lama Kunga Dragspa. Phiyang belongs to Dri-pung kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. The man Assembly Hall which is now under conservation contains as main image Vairocana accompanied by Shakyamuni and various Kagyu lamas, and the walls are painted pleasingly with murals of Vajradhara and Five Dhyani Buddhas.
And we drive further to Likir, Likir gompa situated atop a windy cliff top overlooking the beautiful village of Likir, This Monastery is headed by the younger brother of Dalai Lama. According to tradition the foundation of Likir monastery goes back 11th century when it was a Bon center. But the real foundation seem to be not earlier than 15th century. On the top on roof they have newly setup a museum which contains some very old thankas brought from Tibet and the armory, coins, seals etc.
Basgo is certainly the most impressive of Ladakhi citadels despite its ruined state. Amidst the ruines of the fort there are two large temples and adjoining one of there is a small shrine. They all contains images of Maitreya in due proportion to their size. The most beautiful one is the higer one, which is known as the Chamba Lha-khang (Maitreya Temple) and which was built by Tsewang Namgyal, son of Tashi Namgyal, about the middle of 16th century.
Then we drive and cross the River Indus and reach Alchi, Ladakh’s most loved monastery. Over a century old, its wall paintings are very similar to those of the Tabo gompa in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. Unlike other monasteries, which are usually on a cliff top or cling to a mountainside, Alchi is at ground level and is nestled in the shade of a garden. After visiting the Alchi Monastery we check in at our Camp / Guest House for Overnight stay.
Day 05 : ALCHI – LEH
Enroute visiting Lamayuru, Ridzong
After break fast start early morning drive to Lamayuru, and Ridzong back to Leh.
Lamayuru is around more further towards Kargil. Lamayuru monastery belongs to Dripung Kagyu (Red Hat) like Phiyang. The oldest structure in Lamayuru is the Singey Lhakhang built by the founder of Alchi Lotsava Rinchen bzangpo in 11th century. Lamayuru lower ladakh its also called as sham.
After visit at Lamayuru Gonpa the drive to Ridzong Gompa: Rizong Gompa is known as the paradise for Meditation. Guru Padma Sambhava is believed to editated here for years. One can still find the small caves where Lamas used to meditate for years cutting themselves from the rest of the world except for a one feet square outlet window from where they accept the one time meal of the day.
Ridzong is the most recent of the Gelug-pa foundation in Ladakh. The monastery has been built picturesquely at the head of a gorge reached by a side-valley running north from the Indus near a village Uletokpo. Ridzong is best known as best disciplined monastery of the whole of Ladakh.
After Ridzong visit we drive back to Leh and check in at our hotel for overnight stay
Day 06: LEH
Excursion to Hemis, Takthok, Chemdey
Today we proceed for Indus Valley monastery tour.
We start with a visit to Gamous Hemis Gompa, This is the largest monastic foundation of Drukpa Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Most of the other Drukpa monasteries are the branch monasteries of Hemis. It was built during early 17th century with the blessing of Lama Stagtsang Raspa (Shambunatha), by famous Namgyal dynasty king Singee Namgyal.
The two-day festival of monastic dance in June-July has raised the reputation of Hemis particularly high. The festival is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava, popularly known as second Buddha and responsible for spreading Buddhism in the Tibetan world.
Tak-thok Monastery is situated in Sakti Village, at a distance of approximately 46 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.
Chemday, The other monastery closely associated with Hemis is Chemday, which occupies an imposing position just to the south of Sakti village. The Du-khang contains images of stag-tshang Raspa, founder of the Hemis monastery and Chemday, and the last but one head-lama in this series of reincarnations. Behind the images are murals of Shakyamuni flanked by his two chief disciples amd bu mandalas of Kalachakra of Akshobhya.
After finishing the sightseeing tour we drive back to hotel for overnight stay.
Day 07: LEH
Excursion to Matho, Stakna
Post breakfast we take an excursion to few more interesting monasteries of leh and start with Matho, lies 26 Kms south-east of Leh on the opposite bank of the Indus river. The monastery was founded by Lama Dugpa Dorjay in 16th century. Matho is the only Sakya-pa establishment in Ladakh.
Matho monastery is renowned mainly for its yearly festival, which takes place on the 14th and 15th of the first Tibetan month thus in late March or early April. It is known as Nag-hrang after the name of the local god (sa-bdag). Following drive to Stakna
Stakna is a small monastery, comprising the private apartment, all newly decorated in good Tibetan style, a Du-khang and the roms of monks and attendants. The Du-khang contains a silver gilt stupa, some seven feet high, set up by the present Head Lama Stakna Rinpoche. Other items of interest were the images of three Drug-pa lamas, Padma Karpo, Ngag-dbang rNam-rgyal, the stone man of Bhutan in 17th century, and of Ngag-dbang rGyal-mtshan.
Day 08: DEPART LEH
Tour concludes. Mountain Trails thank you for your patronage and ensure a punctual transfer to Domestic Airport to catch the flight for your onward Destination