Leh Ladakh – The Monastery Circuit

The Leh Monastery circuit had been on my bucket list for a while now. Just the idea of Buddhist flags,majestic Buddha statues and monasteries perched on top of mountains fascinated me like anything.The experience was everything that I expected and so much more.I simply cannot forget the “at peace” atmosphere created by the chants and the drum beats that I experienced at the Shanti Stupa meditation center.

 Shanti Stupa

Architecturally ,most of them are same with the exception of Shanti stupa which has a hint of Japanese architecture . But,what will enchant you the most is the scenic beauty around each one of them and the silent smiling monks quietly flitting around the space and doing their own thing .

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Shanti Stupa – Leh Ladakh

Shanti Stupa was the most famous tourist site around Leh Town. It boasts of a great view of the Changspa Village and Leh town. It also offers a great view of the Namgyal Tsemo in the distant mountains.We were lucky enough to witness the scenic view on a extremely clear day.

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View from the Shanti Stupa

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Relief Art at Shanti Stupa

The second level of Shanti Stupa has reliefs depicting the “birth” of Buddha, the death of Buddha (mahanirvana) and Buddha “defeating the devils” while meditating.

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Shanti Stupa Meditation Hall

The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism.It is considered a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh.The stupa lights up beautifully at night and is accessible till 9 PM .This can be included in your one day trip from Leh as it is only a few kilometres from Leh.

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Shanti Stupa

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Lamps at Shanti Stupa

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Shanti Stupa – Gem among Leh Ladakh Monasteries

The Shanti Stupa features the photograph of the current Dalai Lama with the relics of the Buddha at its base.The stupa is built as a two-level structure. The first level features the central relief of Dharmachakra with deer on each side. A central golden Buddha image sits on a platform depicting the “turning wheel of Dharma” (Dharmacakra).

Spituk Gompa

I especially loved the colorful art on the walls.This gompa can also be included in your one day trip from Leh as it is only a few kilometres from Leh.

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Spituk Gompa

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Diskit Monastery

 This place was my second favorite.The views are as amazing as from the Shanti stupa.The towering Maitreya statue is a delight to the eyes . The statue is perched on the top of the monastery which is again on the top of the hill.It is majestic and colorful and serene

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Visit to this monastery has to be the part of the Leh – Diskit – Hunder – Leh part of your itinerary as it is 118 kms from Leh

Thicksey Gompa

This monastery is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibetgompa in central Ladakh.A 15 metres (49 ft) high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, covering two storeys of the building is deified in the monastery.

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Shey Palace 

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The buddha statue here is the largest buddha statue housed by three storeys and is 39 feet high but is more serene in nature. Shey Palace, the erstwhile royal residence of the Laddakh monarchs, is the main attraction of Shey.

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The Murals on the walls depict the 16 Arhats (Worthy Ones who have achieved Nirvana), 8 on each side; two famous disciples of Buddha and Tsong-kha-pa, founder of the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism.

The palace offers views of vast expanse of the surrounding valleys.A statue of Padmasambhava, with Dogzang Guru Limbune on either side, stands on the right side of Buddha. Right infront of Buddha a large bowl of wax with a central flame, representive of divinity and purity, continues to burn for complete one year before being replaced by another one. To the right side is the a statue of a blue horseman, Paldan Lamo and to the left is a statue of the red horseman of Chakmen, representing the king of Ladakh

The Druk Padma Karpo Institute at the village has become a tourist attraction after the success of Bollywood movie 3 Idiots. The school was shown as the school run by Aamir Khan’s character Rancho in the movie. After the resounding success of 3 Idiots, the school is known as Rancho’s school.

 Visit to this monastery , palace and school can also be a part of your one day monastery tour

 Where to stay for Monastery Circuit

 For Spituk,Shey,Thicksey and Shanti Stupa you can stay in Leh itself as they are within 20 kms from Leh .For Diskit Monastery if it is a part of your Hunder trip you can visit Diskit village and monastery and stay the night at any of the camps/Homestays in Hunder Valley.

 How to travel 

 Taxis and Bikes on rent are available in Leh town at affordable prices.All the monastaries in and around Leh along with some other destinations like Sangam,Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and Magnetic Hill can be covered in one day . But Diskit and Hemis Monasteries need to visited separately as they are enroute Khadung La and Pangon Tso respectively.

 Feel free to connect with me : fashionfactive@gmail.com for further questions regarding the Ladakh Monastery circuit

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