India has its own heaven, named Leh – Ladakh. Resting in the lap of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges, i.e. the Great Himalayas and the Karakoram, the beauty of the place is too immense to be expressed. It can only be experienced. It is the perfect travel destination, be it for the solo travelers or the love birds or the spiritual seekers. Of the innumerable things to do, out there in the beautiful landscape, let us talk about the holy attraction in Ladakh today: The Monasteries.
There are countless monasteries in Ladakh. While some are just remnants now, others have become centres of educational and religious learning. The structures have also turned ‘eye-candies’ for the tourists who are mesmerised by their architectural designs.
Ah! I know I know! The young blood out there, must be thinking why should we talk about monasteries and prayers and monks when we are on a vacation! Accepted! But just hold your breath and traverse with me. Traverse to experience the magnificence and grandeur of these sacred sites. Come and savour the ancient Buddhist culture.
The Monastery With A View: Spituk Gompa
Ladakh justifies being called as the land of monks and monasteries. Of the many beautiful ones set in the scenic landscape, Spituk stands ‘high’. It is one of the most splendid monasteries in the region. It sits on a hill-top. And as beautiful as it could be, the scenic beauty is going to leave you awestruck! So all the youngsters who were sulking at the mention of a ‘monastery’, what say now guys? Game for it? There is so much more to come. Sit back and read on…
Make Peace with Peace: Namgyal Monastery
A recent fight? A churning heartbreak? Read Dalai Lama to find peace? Why not visit where he visited? Yes! Dalai Lama has been here. The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa or the Namgyal Monastery is particularly famous for the Buddha statue it hosts. The best part about this place is that it allows the volunteers to stay and help with the daily chores, while enjoying a few peaceful days. Nice way to move out of the bad memories! Isn’t it?
Enjoy a Masked face: Hemis Monastery
So, what could be more exciting than being under a mask for a while! Isn’t a getaway from yourself, for a while, worthwhile? The Hemis Monastery is the biggest Gompa in Ladakh. It is the most celebrated one too! Because it is here that the famous annual Hemis festival takes place in July. This is one event which draws scores of tourists’ attraction. The ‘Masked Parade’ is the ‘show-stopper’ and is marked as one of the sacred rituals here. During the course of the festival, the local resident Lamas perform a holy masked dance of Ladakh to glorify the victory of good over evil. The Monastery hold this festival on the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar month called as Tse Chu, to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is believed to be a reincarnation of Buddha. All set for a masked dance? Wait, guys! The more amazing is yet to come!
Behold The ‘Movie-Like’ Night Sky: Lamayuru Monastery
“I promise to get you that star”, “Oh, just like this moon, you light up my life”, etc. etc. Ever been the lover who made such promises under the vast sky? Ever been lost in the thoughts of where we get the perfect night sky, as we witness in the movies? Well, well. Here we finally are! The view of the night sky is a must, when seen from the Lamayuru Monastery. This place finally, gives you the opportunity to lay on the green grass and gaze the sky. Enjoy star-gazing like never before. In for a star counting? Come on! Let’s start. I am going to beat you in this!
P.S: To get the maximum from the monastery, plan your trip in sync with the time of shooting stars in the area! And get blown away by its beauty!
Get Awed By The Art: Likir Monastery
The splendid wood work calls you now! Get mesmerised by the colourful paintings on brown wood! This is possibly the best non-Buddhist thing about this monastery. What follows is the museum that caters to the history of the Ladakh region. The picturesque surroundings add to the advantage of the unending beauty of the place.
Peek into Yourself: Shanti Stupa
Bored of the everyday schedule? Stressed? Okay! Here’s the solution. Visit the famous Shanti Stupa and invoke some thoughts to look into yourself! This place provides the best spot for some introspection. The night-time view is even more breathtaking and a little meditation besides the Stupa might help you unleash the hidden best in you.
Besides these, there are some other beautiful monasteries:
- Thiksey MonasteryLadakh
- Diskit GompaLadakh
Travel Tips for Ladakh
When it comes to temperature, Ladakh is as cold as it gets. With temperatures dipping to a staggering low of about -30 degrees below freezing level, there is no doubt you will have to pack all the warm clothes you have with you and probably buy a couple. Head to toe must be covered in warm clothes with woolen clothes inside and wind cheaters outside and waterproof shoes if you can get your hands on them.
Language and communicating
The main dialect spoken in Ladakh is Boti. There are various other regional languages and the least common spoken there is English. The locals may know a little Hindi here and there, but there is only a handful of English speaking population. Download the google translator app on your phone. It can be a lifesaver. Literally.
License and Passport
For going in Leh, visitors don’t require passports any form of pass. Then again, all remote voyagers are required to get themselves enrolled at Drass, Serchu and Rumste in the event that they are going through the area. For some limited zones, for example, Tsokar and Pangong Lakes and Tsomoriri, Nubra Valley and Dahanu, vacationers require licenses. It can be gotten from the District Magistrate of Leh through travel specialists.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
With an elevation of about 10,000 ft above the sea level, there is a condition prevalent in this region, which may cause some difficulties to some voyagers. People suffering from heart diseases and hypertension are advised to avoid going to these parts as the higher up you go, the level of oxygen depletes and people start feeling breathlessness and may experience severe palpitation.
Best Time To visit
April to July is one of the best times of the year to visit Leh. The sun shines bright and keeps the day temperatures warm.
- Also Read: Trekking in Ladakh