Thiksey Monastery is located at a distance of around 20 km from Leh. Situated atop a hill, the monastery was founded by Paldan Sherab nephew of Sherb Zangpo. The monastery is at once noticed because of its impressive architecture. Within the 12 storey monastery, there are a number of stupas, statues, thankas, wall paintings, swords and a large pillar inscripted with the Buddha’s teachings. A huge 15 mt figure of seated Buddha adorns the main prayer hall of the monastery
Situated on the opposite banks of river Indus across Thiksey Monastery is the Matho, a monastery constructed in the first half of the 16th century. The monastery priceless collection include old, nonetheless beautiful thankhas. Some of these thankas are in form of Mandalas. The monastery celebrates an important festival of Oracles every year in the month of March
Ladakh is one of the geo cultural regions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir with two districts – Leh and Kargil. The district of Leh has the Leh town as its largest town. Apart from it, there are 112 inhabited villages Leh district. Buddhism is a prominent religion in Leh along with Islam. Moreover, it is also quiet common to notice Muslims and Buddhist sharing common blood relation. The attractions of Leh include Leh palace, Leh Mosque, Stok Palace Museum, Nubra valley and Pangong Lake.[learn_more caption=”Read More”] An annual festival to celebrate the victory of Guru Padmasmbhava over the evil forces marks the highlight of the monastery. The festival, known as the Hemis festival, is celebrated on the tenth and eleventh day of fifth Tibetan month as the birthday of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. During the festival, masked dances are performed with themes that invariably show a fight against evil and infidel and consequent win of good and Buddhism. Once every twelve year, a special attractions draws Buddhist pilgrims to the monastery – the unfurling of the giant thanka which is decorated with pearls and other precious stones. The popularity and significance of the festival can be judged by the fact that the two days during which the celebration continues, public holiday is declared in Ladakh. 25 and 26 of June 2007 is the next date for celebration of Hemis Festival. The courtyard is entered from the northeast side. The stone steps in the right of the main courtyard leads upto two huge temples – the Tshogs-khang and the Dukhang. The Du-khang, or the main assembly hall has the throne of the Rimpoche and seats for the lamas. The walls are adorned with paintings of Sakyamuni or the Historical Buddha. Paintings of other Buddha figures and Tantric deities like Hevajra and Samvara are also seen on the walls of the Du-khang. The Tshogs-khang houses a huge gilded image of the Sakyamuni Buddha with blue hair. The image has numerous silver chortens embellished with semi-precious stones all around. Right in front of this image is a lacquered wood throne whereas on the right side is a stock of Buddhist canonical volumes. The throne was was gifted to an earlier Incarnate Lama of Hemis by the Maharaja of Hemis. Following the stone steps besides the Tshogs-khang, Tsom-khang temple is reached. A huge statue of Stagshang Raspa, the founder of the monastery along with a large gold and silver chorten possessing his relics are found. The private apartments of the head lama and a small chapel are located at the top. Situated around 45 km south of Leh, the Hemis Monastery is the most important monastery belonging to the Drupka order. The history of the monastery states that it was founded by Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630. He was invited by the king of Ladakh, Sengye Namgyal who offered him a religious estate throughout the region. The king also accepted him as his principal guru. Monks of the Ka-gyu-pa or the Red Hat sect reside in this monastery. The number of monks actually residing in this monastery is only around a dozen, nonetheless, there are hundreds of lamas staying in the monasteries attached to Hemis.
After the Chinese occupied Tibet, the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje was forced to flee to India. He arrived in Sikkim in 1959 and chose Rumtek, over all other sites, as his main seat in exile. Rumtek monastery was originally constructed by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje in 1740 and continued to be the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage in Sikkim for some time before being destroyed. [learn_more caption=”Read More”] However, with the arrival of the 16th Karmapa, Rumtek regained its lost glory. His Holiness, Gyalwa Karmapa began the construction work of the new monastery in 1961 and was assisted in his effort by the Sikkim Royal family as well as the Indian Government. Finally, on the Tibetan New Year’s day (Losar) in 1966 , the inauguration of the new seat called, “The Dharmachakra Centre, a place of erudition and spiritual accomplishment, the seat of the glorious Karmapa.” was officially accomplished by the 16th Karmapa. The location of Rumtek, 5500 feet above sea level on a hill facing the city of Gangtok, was largely responsible for its selection as the main seat of exile for the 16th Karmapa. The Karmapa realised that the place blessed by flowing streams, mountains behind, a snow range in front and a river below was extremely auspicious for his new seat. The original Rumtek gompa which was constructed by the 9th Karmapa in 1740 stands half a kilometre further the new monastery. The old monastery is simple but attractive structure currently undergoing renovation work.The highlight of this monastery is the small shrine room devoted to the Karma Kagyu protector Mahakala. The image of the deity is so fierce that it is kept veiled. At Rumtek, every month, there is a puja ceremony conducted for either one or two weeks. The Tibetan New Year day, Losar, is celebrated with much enthusiasm. Festivities continue for next two days with performances of lhamo. However, before the celebration of Losar, the monks of the monastery perform a week long puja in honour of Mahakal. Ritual dances take place on the last two days preeceding the eve of Losar. Recently, for the first time in the history of the monastery, the performances of dances were opened for public viewing. The Dungdrub Puja, organised during the fourth Tibetan lunar month sees the recitation of one hundred million mantras by the monk community. The recitation begins on the fifteenth day and continues till the final conclusion. The puja is conducted for world peace and to assist people develop tranquility and compassion by embracing Buddha’s teachings. Every alternate year a week-long Vajrakilaya (dubchen) or Guru Padmasambhava tsechu puja together with traditional chham performances is oraganised during the fourth Tibetan month (May -June). Apart from these cultural programmes are also performed to commomerate the birthday of the 17th Karmapa on June 26 every year.
Shey Monastery is located 15 km south of Leh and was the once the residence of royal family. It was established by first king of Ladakh, Lhachen Palgyigon. The highlight of the monastery is 12 feet tall copper statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. This statue is considered the largest in the region. There is another statue of Buddha which rises upto three storey.
The Stakana Monastery (Tiger’s Nose) was constructed in the year 1580 by the well known scholar and saint Chosje Jamyang Palkar during the rule of king Jamyang Namgyal. The most prominent statue in the monastery is that of Arya Avaloketesvara. The monastery has its branches in Zanskar like the Sani Monastery, Bardan Monastery and Stakrimo Monastery.