Hemis Monastery (Hemis Gompa)
Maitreya Temple, Thiksey
Stakna Monastery (Stakna Gompa)
Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve
Welcome to Ladakh(Leh),
Ladakh (land of high passes) is a district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Leh is the largest city in this district. It, popularly known as 'the Moon Land', 'Little Tibet', and 'the last Shangri La' is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India, situated in the Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh is a hill station, a beautiful spectacular region of higher altitude. Ladakh has the privilege of being a unique place on Earth contributed by its snow-covered beauty, landscapes, enchanting silence. It stands a class apart from other places in India.
Ladakh is home to some of the most spectacular monasteries on the Earth. Buddhism is the way of life for the people in Ladakh, these mountain folk wish any visitor with a welcome smile, nice words and provide you with the best of the things they have, really 'Athithi Devo Bhava', mean behave with the guests as one behaves with GOD.
Alchi Monastery or Alchi Gompa is a Buddhist monastery, known more as a monastic complex (chos-'khor) of temples in Alchi village in the Leh District. he complex comprises four separate settlements in the Alchi village in the lower Ladakh region with monuments dated to different periods. Of these four hamlets, Alchi monastery is said to be the oldest and most famous. It is administered by the Likir Monastery. The monastery complex was built, according to local tradition, by the great translator Guru Rinchen Zangpo between 958 and 1055. The artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and the Hindu kings of that time in Kashmir are reflected in the wall paintings in the monastery. These are some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh. The complex also has huge statues of the Buddha and elaborate wood carvings and art-work comparable to the baroque style.
In Leh, and many of the villages, archery festivals are held during the summer months, with a lot of fun and fanfare. They are competitive events, surrounding villages all sending teams and the shooting takes place according to strict etiquette, to the accompaniment of the music of Surna and Daman (aboe and drum). As important as the archery are the interludes of dancing and other entertainment. Chang, the local barley beer, flows freely, but there is rarely any rowdiness. The crowd attends in their Sunday best, the men invariably in traditional dress, and the women wearing their brightest brocade mantles and their heaviest jewellery. Archery may be the pretext for the gathering, but the party's the thing.
Polo is traditional to the western Himalaya, especially to Baltistan and Gilgit. It was probably introduced into Ladakh in the mid -17th century by King Singge Namgial, whose mother was a Balti princess. The game played here differ in many respects from the international game, which indeed, is adapted from what British travellers saw in the western Himalaya and Manipur in the 19th century. Here, each team consists of six players, and the game lasts for an hour with ten minute break. Altitude nowith standing, the hardy local ponies- the best of which come from Zanskar scarcely seem to suffer, though play can be fast and furious. Each goal is greeted by a brust of music from Surna and Daman, and the players often show extraordinary skill. For example, when starting play after a goal the scorer gallops up to midfield holding ball and mallet in the right hand, and throws the ball, hitting it in the same movement towards the opposite goal.
There is little tradition of artistic craftsmanship in Ladakh, most luxury articles in the past having been obtained through imports. The exception is the village of Chiling, about 19 Kms up the Zanskar River from Nimo. Here, a community of metal workers, said to be the descendants of artisans brought from Nepal in the mid-17th century to build one of the gigantic Buddha - image at Shey, carry on their hereditary vocation. Working in silver, brass and copper, they produce exquisite items for domestic and religious use: tea and chang pots, tea cup- stands and lids, hooka-bases, ladles and bowls and, occasionally, silver chorten for installation in temples and domestic shrines.
The handicrafts Centre also has a department of thangka painting. These icons on cloth are executed in accordance with strict guidelines handed down from past generations. In the same tradition are the mural paintings in the gonpas, where semi- professionals, both monks and laymen, labour to keep the walls decorated with images symbolising the various aspects of the Buddhist way. The skill of building religious statues also not extinct. The gigantic representation of Maitreya, was installed in Thikse Gonpa as recently as the early 1980s.
Bardan Monastery or Bardan Gompa is a 17th century Buddhist monastery, approximately 12 kilometres south of Padum, in Zanskar, Ladakh, northern India. It belongs to the Dugpa-Kargyud monastic order and was one of the first monasteries of this sect to be established in Zanskar. The monastery also ran several smaller hermitages in the area. The monastery consists of a large Dukhang or assembly hall which has some grand statues of Buddhist figures and several small stupas in clay, bronze, wood and copper.
Basgo Monastery, also known as Basgo or Bazgo Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery located in Basgo or Bazgo in Leh District, Ladakh, northern India approximately 40 km from Leh. Although the monastery was built for the Namgyal rulers in 1680, Bazgo itself was embedded in the early days of Ladakh and is frequently mentioned in the Ladakhi Chronicles when it was a political and cultural center. The monastery is situated on top of the hill towering over the ruins of the ancient town and is noted for its Buddha statue and murals. In the 15th century, a palace was built in Basgo.
Two days multicolored cultural bonanza of Buddha Mahaotsava 2001 was held on 1st and 2nd of June 2001, starting from 700 years old, Deskit Monastery in procession with Ven. Monks, participating in their most attractive robes. The Festival first of its kind in the history of Ladakh, was organized by Department of Tourism in Collaboration with ministry of Tourism, Government of India with a view to present and propagate the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh.
The festival has also extended its magnetic field to the foreign and home tourists to witness the colorful Buddhist Monastic Dance and Thanka exhibition in Deskit. Monastery including evening illuminations in the monastery followed by melodious tunes of ritual instrumental play. This year's special attraction of the Festival was the performance of play on the life story of Lord Buddha by Party of Miss Anamika from Delhi.
Tourists also enjoyed double humped camels and yaks ride in the Sand Dunes of Hunder village. In ancient days, Deskit was the main centre for meeting of Caravans travelling on the famous Silk Rout between India and Central Asia. The significance of the festival was commemorating the five important events in the life of Lord Buddha.
Chamchung Shrine is a small temple situated off the courtyard of the Serzang Temple in Basgo village, Leh district. The temple was built in 1642 by Queen Gyal Khatun, a Balti princess and the wife of Chosgyal Jamyang Namgyal. Chamchung is the humblest shrine among the three temples in the neighbourhood. Set on the Leh-Srinagar Highway, Chamchung Shrine houses a bulky image of Maitreya. There are abundant murals on the walls that depict various guardian divinities. Chamba Lhakhang (Maitreya Temple) is located nearby. Chamchung Temple is 40km from Leh by road. Leh Airport is the nearby.
The Changla Pass or Chang La Pass(height: 5,360 m (17,590 ft)) is a high mountain pass in India. The Changla Pass is on the route to Pangong Lake from Leh. It is named after the sadhu Changla Baba, to whom the Pass temple is dedicated. The small town of Tangste is the nearest settlement. The Changla Pass is the main gateway for the Changthang Plateau situated in the Himalayas. The nomadic tribes of the region are collectively known as the Changpa or Chang-pa.
The Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary houses a number of floras and faunas of Ladakh that are rare and are well preserved in this sanctuary. This sanctuary is located at a high altitude in the Ladakhi adjunct of the Changthang plateau in Leh District, Jammu and Kashmir. It is important as one of the few places in India with a population of the Kiang or Tibetan Wild Ass, as well as the rare Black-necked Crane. Changthang (Chang-North, Thang-Plain) is basically the connotation of `the north plain`, but in common parlance on elevated plain or wide-open valley. This area where the sanctuary is located is surrounded by two large and world famous water lakes that are Tsomoriri and Pangong Tso.
The flora of Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary includes natural grasslands and a wide variety of more than two hundred species of wild plants that grow in higher pasture of this area and most of which is edible by animals. Moreover, the sanctuary houses a number of faunas namely Kaing (Tibetan Wild Ass), four species of carnivores such as Snow leopard, Lynx, Wolf and Wild Dog and six species of Wild ungulates Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Argali, Blue Sheep, Wild yak, Ibex, and Ladakh Urial as well as Black Necked Crane and seasonal species of migratory birds.
Chemrey Monastery or Chemrey Gompa is a 1664 Buddhist monastery, approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of Leh, Ladakh, northern India. It belongs to the Drugpa monastic order and was founded by the Lama Tagsang Raschen and dedicated to King Sengge Namgyal. The monastery has a notable high Padmasambhava statue. It also contains a valuable collection of scriptures, with title pages in silver and the text in gold letters. The monastery is also a venue for the festival of sacred dances which takes place on the 28th and 29th day of the 9th month of the Tibetan calendar every year.
Diskit Monastery also known as Deskit Gompa or Diskit Gompa is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery (gompa) in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh, northern India. t belongs to the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery has statue of Maitreya Buddha in the prayer hall, a huge drum and several images of fierce guardian deities. An elevated cupola of the moanstery depicts a fresco of the Tashilhunpo Monastery of Tibet. The Monastery administration runs a school, with support from a Non-Government Organization (NGO) known as the "Tibet Support Group", which has computer facilities and teaches scienece subjects, in English, to Tibetan children of the region.
A popular festival known as Dosmoche or the "Festival of the Scapegoat" is held in the precincts of the monastery in February during the winter season, which is largely attended by people from villages of the Nubra valley since the other regions in Leh are inaccessible during this period due to heavy snow fall.
The Doda is a river of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. It flows through the state of Ladakh. The source of the river is the Drang Drung glacier of the Pensi La. The river flows into the Padum Valley , and joins with the Tsarap River to form the larger Zanskar River.
The Drang-drung glacier is the largest glacier in Ladakh, situated near the Pensi-la. The Stod River originates from this glacier.
Drogpa areas have been outlined in the Tour Circuits. Out of 5 Drogpa villages in India two are open for foreign tourists. The greatest attraction in these areas are the villages of Dha and Biama which are entirely populated by last remaining remnants of the Dards in the District.Dards are considered as last race of Aryans confined to Indus Valley. These villages have considerable anthropological and ethnographic importance. Festivals of those villages are called harvest festivals. These are considered rare and eventful the year of Drogpa in which all the people of these villages come out of their colourful traditional dress and festival moods to celebrate the festivals.
Preceding to the Drogpas villages the village which fall enroute are the villages of Domkhar Skurbuchan, Achinathang which are also important and which tourists can also easily visit. At this stage, tourism being like new-born baby, infrastructures are not adequate in this area. However there is a very good road leading right upto Drogpa villages and tourist can stay over nights in some private guest houses and or at some identified camping site at Khaltsi, Dhomkhar, Skurbuchan, Achinathang, Hanu Do, Biama and Dha village. Approximately distance between Leh and Drogpas villages are between the range of 150 to 170 kms from Leh.
General Zorawar's Fort or commonly known as Riasi Fort, an ancient fort preserving the private wealth of the rulers of Dogra in Jammu, is located in a picturesque place Riasi in the district of Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir. This age old ancient monument, presently in ruins, is located on a point overlooking the majestic Chenab River.
A renowned and controversial Warrior General Zorawar Sing owned this fort. The General is remembered here for his continued struggle with the Chinese rulers over Ladakh. Apart from the valuable and wealthy treasure of the Maharaja, the fort also houses spectacular collection of coins and specimens of all new stamps issued by the state. It is a historical monument liked by the visitors who got ample interest in history, ancient cultures and artifacts.
Hanle Monastery or Hanle or Analy Gompa is a 17th century Buddhist monastery of the "Red Hat" Tibetan Drukpa Kagyu branch of Tibetan Buddhism, located in the Hanle Valley, Leh District, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir in northern India on an old branch of the ancient Ladakh - Tibet trade route.
It is also home to the Indian Astronomical Observatory. The location of both the village and the observatory are highly sensitive due to the close proximity of the Tibetan / Chinese border and special permission is needed to visit either by the Indian Government.
The Hemis Gompa is one of the wealthiest monasteries in Ladakh, situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir within the Ladakh region of western Himalayas. Its unique location at an altitude of 12,000 feet makes it one of the highest settlements of the world. This monastery is the oldest one in the area belonging to the `Karagyu` school of `Brokpa` order and quite unusually holds a majority of woman inhabitants. The hilly region of Hemis holds a trenchant charm and an aura that is particular to Tibetan Budhhism in a natural and charismatic manner. The Hemis Gompa is a unique example of monastic complex in a period, which manifests geometric structure as well as religious influence in its pattern. This construction techniques and details are unique in a way that it is found nowhere else.
The main building was constructed in 1630 when `Nyingma Lhakhang` was built with a courtyard in front and a residence for the `Rinpoche` located some distance towards east. During the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century the main Gompa building construction reached its zenith with the formation of the `Dukhang Chenmo` or large assembly hall, its adjacent building, the main entrance to the Gompa building, the large courtyard and its enclosing gallery. All these were decorated with painted stone relief. Architecturally this Monastery is unique, not only because of its location but also due to its concept and construction as a three-dimension `Mandala`. The murals on the Hemis Gompa reflects rare seventeenth century pattern and designed intrinsically with a variety of pigments and gold paint. In the monastery, among many other antique objects, there is a structure of Buddha Shakyamuni, which is really exquisite and noteworthy as embellished with valuable gems and jewelry.
Hundur Monastery, also known as Hundur Gompa, is a Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley of Ladakh, northern India. It is located near Diskit Monastery and Lachung Temple, situated just below the main road, near the bridge.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO), located near Leh in Ladakh, India, has one of the world's highest sites for optical, infrared and gamma-ray telescopes. It is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru. The Indian Astronomical Observatory stands on Mt. Saraswati, Digpa-ratsa Ri, Hanle in south-eastern Ladakh.
The Hanle site is deemed to be excellent for visible, infrared and submillimeter observations throughout the year. Specifically the observation conditions yield about 255 spectroscopic nights per year, approximately 190 photometric nights per year and an annual rain plus snow precipitation of less than 10 cm. In addition, there are low ambient temperatures, low humidity, low concentration of atmospheric aerosols, low atmospheric water vapour, dark nights and low pollution.
The Karakoram Pass (height : 5,540 m (18,176 ft)) is a mountain pass between India and China in the Karakoram Range. It is the highest pass on the ancient caravan route between Leh in Ladakh and Yarkand in the Tarim Basin. 'Karakoram' literally means 'Black Gravel' in Turkic. The high altitude and lack of fodder was responsible for the deaths of countless pack animals, and the route across the pass was notorious for the trail of bones strewn along the way.
The pass is in a saddle between two mountains and about 45 metres (148 ft) wide. There is no vegetation or icecap and it is generally free of snow due to the winds. Temperatures are low, there are often very high winds, blizzards are frequent, and the extreme altitude took its toll. In spite of all this, the Karakoram Pass was considered a relatively easy pass due to the gradual ascent on both sides, and lack of summer snow and ice much of the year.
This is one of the Dharma centres in Leh, Ladakh, India. The world known Buddhist Monastery is run the Karmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhists. Karmapa stands for "the embodiment of all the activities of the Buddha" or "the one who carries out buddha-activity". There are seventeen Karmapas as on today.
This Monastery plays an important role in propagating the values of Tibetan Buddhism and also working for the preservation of traditional Buddhist cultures. The traing centre in the Monastery draws lots of respect from Buddhist followers and many visitors spend their time to understand and to follow the Karmapa teachings in this Gompa
Khardung La (Khardung Pass, la means pass in Tibetan) (elevation 5359 m or 17,582 feet) is a high mountain pass located in the Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India. The pass on the Ladakh Range lies north of Leh and is the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys. The Siachen Glacier lies partway up the latter valley. Built in 1976, it was opened to motor vehicles in 1988 and has since seen many automobile, motorbike and mountain biking expeditions.
Korzok, also known as Karzok or Kurzok, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Drukpa Lineage and ancient village on the western bank of Tsomoriri Lake in Leh District, Ladakh, India. Korzok, situated at 4,595 metres (15,075 ft), houses a Shakyamuni Buddha and other statues. It is home to about 35 monks. The highly revered monastery is 300 years old. The Tsomoriri Lake in front of it is also held in reverence, and considered equally sacred by the local people.
Korzok monastery as seen now is said to have been re-built in the 19th century on the right bank of the Tsomoriri River. The old monastery was built on a gentle slope, unlike other monasteries that are generally perched on hill tops. An impressive photong is also located near to the Gompa. A number of Chortens are also seen near the monastery. Korzok settlement is considered as one of the oldest settlements of the world. The monastery houses the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha along with images of other deities. The monastery has beautiful paintings (Thangkas); old paintings which have been restored.
Kursha or Karsha Monastery or Kursha Gompa is a Buddhist monastery in the Padum Valley of the Zanskar region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. The Doda River flows past the monastery from its source at the Drang Drung glacier of the Pensi La (14,500 feet (4,400 m)). It was founded by the translator, Phagspa Shesrab. The monastery, the largest monastery of Zanskar, has a number of shrines and has been embellished with exquisite paintings done by the Lama Dzadpa Dorje. The popular festival held in the monastery precincts is called the Gustor festival, celebrated between the 26th and 29th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar, when events such as the sacred masked Cham dance take place.
A Chorten in the precincts of the Kursha monastery houses the mummified body of an incarnate lama called the Rinchen Zangpo and sealed in a wooden box with silver lining. During the Indo-Pakistan war, the silver sheet covering of the chorten was ransacked, which resulted in exposure of the wooden frame work of the reliquary. It was later refurbished and painted.
Ladakh Ecological Development Group or Ecological Centre of Ladakh was established in 1983 with the aim of carrying out the activities to promote and spread the awareness on the environmental issues of Ladakh. This group also works on the positive aspects of alternative technology.
This is a good place to find out about the possibility of doing voluntary work with various organizations regarding the environmental issues. The centre has a small library and holds video shows on environmental problems of Ladakh. This is an apt place for environmentalists to have their voices echoed.
The Department of Tourism spends a huge amount of Rs.16.00 Lacs for promotion of Tourism by way of holding a 15 days Ladakh Festival every year. The main aim of organising the same since last 7 years in the month of September is to extend the lean tourist season in the region and also to represent and prorogate the rich cultural heritage of the area. The grand success of the festival and the tremendous response from foreign tourists and home including the local people are due to the rich cultural heritage and variety of other attractive programmes like traditional Polo match and Village archery.
The famous monastic dance in the monasteries including exhibitions of invaluable Thankas and other Ritual Instruments of the monasteries. The tourists have the opportunities to see the entire traditional cultural programme of the region like Traditional Folk dance and songs of the Nomads. The traditional folk songs and dance of Drokpas the pure Aryan race and many more different traditional folk dance and song of the village. The grand achievements of the Ladakh Festival are noticeable of the significant increase in the arrivals of tourists during the lean tourist season of the year.
Leh, is the city in Ladakh District in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Leh, is the second largest district in the country (after Kutch, Gujarat) in terms of area. The town is still dominated by the now ruined Leh Palace, former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace. Leh is at an altitude of 3524 meters (11,562 ft).
Leh Palace overlooks the Ladakhi Himalayan town of Leh, modelled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The palace was built by King Sengge Namgyal in the 17th century, but was later abandoned when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh in the mid-19th century. The royal family moved to Stok Palace. Leh Palace is nine storeys high; the upper floors accommodated the royal family, the stables and store rooms were in the lower floors. The palace, a ruin, is currently being restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The palace is open to the public and the roof provides panoramic views of Leh and the surrounding areas. The mountain of Stok Kangri in the Zangskar mountain range is visible across the Indus valley to the south, with the Ladakh mountain range rising behind the palace to the north.
Likir Monastery or Likir Gompa (Klud-kyil) is a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh, northern India, located approximately 52 kilometres (32 mi) west of Leh. It is picturesquely situated on a little hill in the valley near the Indus River. The monastery has two assembly halls, known as Dukhangs and the older one is located on the right of the central courtyard with six rows of seats for the lamas and a throne for the Head Lama of Likir. The Dukhangs contain statues of Bodhisattva, Amitabha, three large statues of Sakyamuni, Maitreya and Tsong Khapa, founder of the yellow-hat sect.
The verandah has thangka paintings of the Guardians of the Four Directions and wheel of life mandala held by Yama and the courtyard has a large Jupiter tree, a rare species. The monastery is also a repository of old manuscripts, has a notable thangka collection and old costumes and earthen pots. Sitting on the roof is a 23 metre (75 ft) high gilded gold statue of Maitreya (the future) Buddha. It was completed in 1999. The newer Dukhang, about 200 years old is located diagonally across from the courtyard's entrance and contains a statue of Avalokitesvara with 1000 arms and 11 heads.
Maitreya Temple is located in Thiksey, 25km south of Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. The temple was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 1980. It enshrines a colossal 14m high gold-faced statue of Lord Buddha. The deity is seen seated in a lotus position. Murals made by the monks from Lingshet Gompa in Zanskar that depict scenes form Maitreya`s (Lord Buddha`s) life are conserved in the temple. Thiksey Festival, celebrated in the Thiksey Monastery is a major attraction. Maitreya Temple can be reached from Ladakh by road.
The Markha River is a river in Ladakh, India. It is a tributary of the Zanskar River. The Markha Valley is the most popular trekking route in Ladakh. On top of the valley you can find the Kang Yatze, a mountain.
Matho Monastery, with the history of five hundred years and the only monastery under the Saskya monastic Establishment in Leh Ladakh, is located on the beautiful Indus River valley and is believed to be founded by Lama Dugpa Dorje, a famous Lama in Buddhist Monarchy.
A worthy marvelous collection of ancient thankas and specially some in the form of mandalas, are showcased in this Monastery. Another attraction here is a holy shrine dedicated to the guardian deities. Matho Nagrang festival is conducted here in this Monastery; during the festival Buddhist monks perform many traditional rituals and sacred dances. This is a nice monastery to visit and understand Buddhist ideologies and teachings.
Leh is a preferred destination for mountain biking offering daring mountain bikers the second highest motorable road in the world. The adventure in mountain biking from Leh simply lies in the most hostile terrains. The entire road of about 485 km between Leh and Manali gives an opportunity to the challenging mountain bikers to cut across the majestic Himalayan ranges through four mountains passes. For adventurous daring mountain bikers Leh-Manali highway is spectacular road while enjoying the picturesque landscapes.
Noorichan TsoKar Wetland Conservation Reserve or Noorichan Wildlife Sanctuary provides shelter for a good verity of flora and faunas. Some percentage of flora that grows in Noorichan Wildlife Sanctuary are aquatic vegetation including Potamogeton Spps,l and Hydrilla spps. These plants die back in winter to form floating mats of weed in spring. Even Carex and Rununculus Spps grow in the adjacent fresh water and damp hayfields. The arid plain vegetation of surrounding areas comprises Astragalus and Caragana.
The sanctuary houses Podiceps cristatus, Todorna ferruginea, Anser indicus, Larus brannicephalus, Sterna hirundo, Black-necked Cranes Grusnigricolis, sandgrouse Syrrhaptes tibetanus. Moreover, Wild Ass Equus hemionus (Kaing), Tibetan Gazelles (Gowa), Canis lupus and Vulpes spps are also seen in the adjacent pastures and hills. Noorichan Wildlife Sanctuary attracts a lot of tourists during tourist seasons from May to September. Due to the homely atmosphere for the rare species of animals in this sanctuary, the tourists enjoy the natural yet wild beauty of the animals.
Nubra Valley is about 150 km north of Leh, the capital town of Ladakh, India. Local scholars say that its original name was Ldumra (the valley of flowers). The Shyok River meets the Nubra or Siachan River to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 ft. above the sea level. The Nubra River is a tributary of the Shyok River, which flows through the Nubra region of Ladakh, India, into the Indus River to the east of Skardu, Pakistan. The Siachen Glacier melts into this river.
The Ladakhis believe implicitly in the influence of gods and spirits on the material world, and undertake no major enterprise, without taking this influence into consideration. The lamas are the vital intermediaries between the human and the spirit worlds. Not only do they perform the rites necessary to propitiate the gods- in Private houses as well as in the gonpa temples, they also often take on the role of astrologers and oracles who can predict the auspicious time for starting any enterprise, whether ploughing the fields, or taking in the harvest, arranging a marriage or going on a journey- and advise as to the auspicious way of going about it.
The most famous monk-oracles are those of Matho Gonpa, Chosen every three years by a traditional procedure, two monks spend several months in a rigorous regiment of prayer and fasting to prepare and purify themselves for their arduous role. When the time comes they are possessed by the deity, whose spirit enables them to perform feats that would be impossible to any one in a normal state such as cutting themselves with knives, or sprinting along the Gonpa's topmost parapet. In this condition, they will answer questions put to them concerning individual and public welfare. However, the sprit is said to be able to detect questions asked by sceptical observers with the intention of testing him, and to react with frenzied anger.
Panamik which is also known as Pinchimik is located 22 km above the valley of Sumur. A grimy rural place overlooked by the pin-point peak of Charouk Dongchen, marks the northern part in India that is accessible to tourists. A kilometer beyond the hot springs ahead of the stone walls that comes from the potholed road is the village of Proper. Splitting apart into wide streams the sapphire Nubra seems to be shallow and tame. Pay attention to local people`s advice as many travelers have caught up into accidents that have taken place while fording the shallow river.
Ensa Gompi is located on the mountainside across river. It is situated in the unexpected valley of willow and poplar trees fed by a constant sweet-water stream. Though the Gompa is usually locked, the views from rows of broken chortens nearby make the climb worthwhile. If one of the few semi-resident monks is there, you`ll be shown inside to see the old wall paintings in the temples, and the footprint of Tsong-Kha-Pa, allegedly imprinted at this spot when he journeyed from Tibet to India in the fourteenth century.
Pangong Tso Wetland Conservation Reserve is a brackish lake lying in the Indo-Chinese border. In its east it is graced by the Karakoram ranges. In Ladakhi, Tso stands for Wetland. The farthest to the west, third of the lake lies in Indian Territory. The five rivers that fed by perennial springs and snowfelts, flux into the Indian portion. Some brackish to saline marshes occupy the western end including the adjacent wet meadows.
The flora part of Pangong Tso Wetland Conservation Reserve includes brackish to saline marshes and alpine meadows that grow at the west end of the lake. Some scrub and perennial herbs occupy the surrounding hillsides. Apart from the flora section, the faunal life of Pangong Tso Wetland Conservation Reserve exhibits a variety of Waterfowl, including Todorna ferruginea, Anser indicus. Some of the species are migratory and in the surrounding hills, a group of the Himalayan and Tibetan Wildlife including the Wild Ass inhabits the place. Tourists flock in huge numbers during May to September to view the great creation of nature with excellent preservation of wildlife. The all encompassing Pangong Tso Wetland Conservation Reserve is the perfect location to enjoy the beauty of wilderness.
Pensi-la (Pensi Pass) is a mountain pass in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, which is known as the Gateway to Zanskar. Pensi La is 4,400 m (14,436 ft) above sea level and connects the Suru Valley region to the Zanskar Valley region. The summit at this end of the Suru Valley, the only peak which can be seen, is 7,012 m (23,005 ft) high, while the mountain to the north is 6,873 m (22,549 ft).
Phugtal Monastery or Phugtal Gompa is a monastery in south-eastern Zanskar, Ladakh in northern India. Founded by Gangsem Sherap Sampo in the early 12th century, the monastery is a unique construction built into the cliffside like a honeycomb. It located on the mouth of a cave on the cliff face of a lateral gorge of a major tributary of the Lungnak (Lingti-Tsarap) River. Home to about 70 monks the monastery has a library and prayer rooms. A stone tablet reminds of Alexander Csoma de Kor?s author of the first English-Tibetan dictionary who explored Ladakh and visited in 1826-27.
Phyang Monastery, Phyang (or Phiyang) Gompa is a Buddhist monastery located just 15 or 16 kilometres west of Leh in Ladakh, northern India. It was established in 1515. Phyang contains numerous sacred shrines inside the monastery, frescoes dating from the royal period, and a 900 year old museum which has an extensive collection of idols including a number of fine Kashmiri bronzes probably dating to the 14th century, thangkas, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons.
Rangdum is in a valley situated 3,657 m (11,998 ft) above the sea level, in an isolated region of the Suru valley in the Ladakh region. On one side are the colorful hills while on the other side are rocky mountains and glaciers, notably Drang-drung. The country surrounding Rangdum Monastery is very bleak and crops sometimes cannot ripen in the brief summer. The locals depend on their flocks and supplies from lower down the Suru Valley or over the pass from Zanskar.
A range of rafting options is available on the Indus and its major tributaries. The best stretch for professionally guided runs in white water is on the Indus between Spituk and Saspol. Beyond Saspol, the river becomes difficult and running it requires technically skilled participants and careful organisation. Upward of Spituk, the Indus has the easiest stretch up to Karu, ideal for basic training and for day-return"scenic floating" for amateurs. In recent years, running the Indus has become an attractive alternative to trekking and features on the itinerary of most visitors. Several agencies in Leh offer attractive rafting packages. Ask for details at the Tourist Office at Leh.They will also be able to provide some rafts on hire.
The most difficult but exciting option for river running is on the Zanskar along its spectular course through the gorge in the Zanskar mountain, between Padum and Nimo. This is suitable only for well-organised white-water expeditions, prepared for several days of river running and camping in absolute wilderness. Participants are required to be trained rafters themselves while the arrangements should be assigned to a dependable professional agency. Adequate arrangements for rescue coverage are an essential pre-requisite for embarking upon a white-water expedition on a river like the Zanskar.
Rizong (or Rhizong) gompa, Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Buddhist monastery is also called the Yuma Changchubling in Ladakh, India. It is situated at the top of a rocky side valley on the north side of the Indus, to the west of Alchi on the way to Lamayuru. It was established in 1831 by Lama Tsultim Nima under the Gelukpa order, at Ri-rdzong. There are 40 monks in the monastery. The monastery is also called "the paradise for meditation" and is noted for its extremely strict rules and standards.
The structure of this monastery is comprises of Relic shrine, Assembly hall, Sacred chamber, Thin-Chen shrine, Julichen nunnery etc.
The Salt Valley is a wide open area in the Rupshu region, a valley in southeast Ladakh, India. The valley has a length of about 20 km and a maximum width of about 7 km. Its average elevation is 5,000 m. It can be approached from Leh across the Tanglang La pass.
Saltoro Kangri is the highest peak of the Saltoro Mountains, better known as the Saltoro Range, which is a minor range of the Karakoram. It is one of the highest mountains on Earth, but it is in a very remote location deep in the Karakoram. Saltoro Kangri lies in a region controlled by India on the southwestern side of the Siachen Glacier.
Lying in the middle the sparkling poplar wood and terraced fields of barley extend upto the valley behind Leh, Sankar gompa, 2km north of the town centre, is among the most accessible monasteries in central Ladakh. You can get there either by car or on foot, turn left at the Antelope Guesthouse, and then right onto the concrete path that runs alongside the stream. Sankar appears after about fifteen minutes` walk, surrounded by sun-bleached chortens and a high mud wall.
The monastery, a small under-gompa of Spitok, is staffed by twenty monks, and is the official residence of the Kushok Bakula, Ladakh`s head of the Gelug-pa sect. The rinpoche, born a prince in 1914, has had an active career, serving in the Indian Parliament in the 1960s and later being posted to Mongolia as an ambassador. Though he now spends most of his days in a new house behind the gompa, the rinpoche`s glass-fronted former quarters enjoy pride of place on top of the main building, crowned with a golden spire and a dharma chakra flanked by two deer (symbolizing the Buddha`s first sermon in Sarnath).
Saser Pass, Saser La, or Sasser Pass (el. 5,411 m (17,753 ft)) is a high mountain pass in Ladakh and India on the ancient summer caravan route from Leh in Ladakh to Yarkand in the Tarim Basin. It leads from the head of the Nubra Valley into the upper Shyok valley, on the way to the even higher, but easier, Karakoram Pass. The Saser Pass could not be avoided in summer and took a huge toll on caravan pack animals, such as ponies and mules. It was too icy for the Bactrian camels, which were the usual pack animals to the north of the Saser Pass.
Serzang Temple is a 17th century gold and copper shrine located next to the royal quarters in Basgo village of Leh district. Situated on the Leh-Srinagar Highway, Basgo is one of the fascinating villages found in Ladakh. The temple enshrines a 30 feet high copper gilt image of Maitreya (Lord Buddha). Mural paintings of Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa and Mila-Ras-pa can be witnessed inside the temple complex. There are also images of historical personages associated with the red-hat sect of Buddhism. The walls are highlighted with Buddha figures.
A Serzang manuscript copy of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon written in gold, silver and copper letters is preserved in the temple. This manuscript was commissioned by King Senge Namgyal, a 17th century Ladhakhi king, as an act of merit. Serzang Temple also houses volumes of the Kandsur and Tandsur on the left and right side of the temple respectively. The figure inside the temple rises up to a box-like structure within the ceiling, which is viewed from a gallery at the top. Maitreya Temple or the Chamba Lhakhang and Chamchung Shrine are the nearby draws. Serzang Temple can be 40km from Leh by road.
Shanti Stupa, literally means peace(Shanti) pillar (Stupa) established by a 'Peace Sect' of Japanese Buddhists, is situated above Changspa in Leh District of Jammu and Kashmir. The stupa was opened in 1985 by Dalai Lama with an intention of Spreading Buddhist ideology and teaching all through the world. This is a place which tells the world the need for peace and harmony among its population.
The stupa is very attractive with the sides are decorated with gilt panels showing the life stories of Great Buddha. The surrounding are worth seeing with the enchanting views snow capped mountains, spectacular unique styled Ladakhi houses and the towering Namgyal Tsemo Gompa.
The Shey Monastery or Gompa and the Shey Palace complex are structures located on a hillock in Shey,15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the south of Leh in Ladakh, northern India on the Leh-Manali road. The palace, mostly in ruins now, was built first in 1655, near Shey village, by the king of Ladakh, Deldan Namgyal, also known as Lhachen Palgyigon. It was used as a summer retreat by the kings of Ladakh.
The Shey Monastery was also built in 1655 on the instructions of Deldon Namgyal, in the memory of his late father, Singay Namgyal, within the palace complex. The monastery is noted for its giant copper with gilded gold statue of a seated Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha is so named since Buddha was the sage (muni) of the Sakya people who resided in the Himalayan foothills and their capital was Kapilvastu. It is said to be the second largest such statue in Ladakh.
The main Shakyamuni Buddha statue in the monastery is a 12 metres (39 ft) icon covering three floors of the monastery. The walls on both the sides of Buddha display the 16 Arhats (saints who achieved Nirvana), 8 on each side. The wall behind the statue has the images of the Buddha's two chief disciples, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana. Almost every wall around the Buddha statue is painted with one image or the other.
Shingo-la is a mountain pass in India, on the border between Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. There is a shallow lake or pool 20m below the pass. The pass is on a long-distance footpath linking Zanskar and Lahaul, used often by locals and trekkers alike. For trekkers it is one of the technically easiest 5000m passes in Indian Himalaya, involving no glacier trekking nor steep climbs. There is snow on the pass all year round, although in the summer only a small stretch of snow has to be passed.
Sindhu Darshan Festival is a festival of India held every year on full moon day (on Guru Purnima) in month of June. It is held at Leh, in Ladakh District of Jammu and Kashmir. It stretches for three days. It was first started in the October, 1997 and continues to be held every year since then, attracting large number of foreign as well domestic tourists. The Sindhu Darshan Festival, as the name suggests, is a celebration of River Sindhu, also known as the Indus. The main reason behind the celebration of Sindhu Darshan Festival is to endorse the Indus River (Sindhu River) as an icon of the communal harmony and unity of India. The festival is also a symbolic salutation to the courageous soldiers of the country, who endanger their life to save ours.
Every year, a large number of participants from different parts of the country participate in Sindhu Darshan Festival. They bring water from the river of their own state in earthen pots and immerse these pots in the Sindhu River. Consequently, the waters of all rivers mingle together, thereby symbolizing the multi-dimensional cultural identity of the country. The first day of the Sindhu Darshan Festival witnesses a reception ceremony for the participants, organized on the banks of Sindhu at Shey. This reception ceremony is conducted by a joint association of committees of various religious groups ( Buddhist, Shia, Sunni, Christian, Hindu and Sikh ) namely, Ladakh Buddhist Association, Shia Majlis, Sunni Anjuman, Christian Moravian Church, Hindu Trust and Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, to promote national integrity.
Spituk Monastery or Spituk Gompa is a Buddhist monastery in Leh district, Ladakh, northern India, 8 kilometres from Leh. In was founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od in the 11th Century. Founded as a Red Hat institution, the monastery was taken over by the Yellow Hat sect in the 15th century. The monastery contains 100 monks and a giant statue of Kali (unveiled during the annual Spitok festival). Every year the Gustor Festival is held at Spituk from the 27th to 29th day in the eleventh month of the Tibetan calendar.
Stakna Gompa, famous for the splendid architecture on a 60 m high isolated rock and one of the most accessible monasteries, is another eye-catching monastery of Leh. This monastery is a visual display of the religious and cultural heritage of India and Biddhusm. The monastery, built by a great scholar and Buddhist follower Chosje Jamyang Palkar in the year 1580, is a treasure of Buddhist scholarly teachings, artifacts and paintings. The Gompa is constructed by Drukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Monastery is renowned as 'Tiger's Nose Monastery' as the rock on which the gompa located is shaped like a tiger leaping up to the sky and with the building itself is placed on the mose of this rock tiger. The main attraction of the monastery lies in its enchanting marble statue of Avalokitesvara believed to be brought from Assam. A museum displaying interesting collections of arms and armory is also preserved here.
The Royal family of King Singe Namgyal is presently residing in this palace, after the royal family moved out of Leh palace. Stok palace, built King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal in 1825 AD, is an outstanding eye catching palace where the ancient and modern architectural styles are making their lively presence.
This palace is famous for beautiful gardens apart from the architectural beauty. The view of the sunrise and sun set are wonderful from the palace, the glowing sunlight makes here sceneries quite enjoyable. At present the palace is open to visits and presents a collection of royal attires, crown and other royal materials.
Ahead of the convergence of the Shyok and Nubra rivers, Sumur is a place of haven extended over a large area. It shelters the most prominent monastery, Samstem Ling Gompa, which arrives after a pleasant forty minute walk. This monastery was built in the year 1841 and the Gompa accumulates monks within the age group of 7 to 70. To catch the morning or evening puja, you will have to do a night stay in Sumur. Most of the guest houses are located on the sand lane which leads from the bus stop at the prayer wheel.
If you want to attend the puja you will have to do an overnight stay in Sumur. There is no need to worry because accommodation facilities are provided in Sumur`s hotel`s at reasonable rates. The AO guesthouse located nearby the main road offers basic double rooms, camping, vegetarian cafe and garden. You get another option of camping down the lane to the galaxy guesthouse for just Rs.60. An additional walk of ten minutes will lead you to the friendly Stakray guesthouse which avails a facility of basic double rooms overlooking a huge vegetable garden and a traditional Ladakhi kitchen. It is a 1.5 km trek to the Gompa from here, which is convenient for catching the pujas.
The Suru valley is a valley in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, which is drained by the Suru River (Indus), a powerful tributary of the Indus river. The lower part of the valley, at altitudes below 3,000 metres (9,843 ft), is one of the most agriculturally productive parts of Ladakh with two crops a year being harvested, watered by the run-off from the very heavy winter snowfalls, and even plantations of willow and poplar trees making it a relatively lush and very attractive area, but around Rangdum the landscapes are stark, flat moorlands ringed by arid crags.
Taglang La, elevation 17,582 feet (5,359 m), is a high mountain pass in Ladakh, India. It is sometimes incorrectly claimed to be the world's second highest motorable pass at an altitude of 5,325 m. (17,469 feet).
Takthok Monastery (also known as Thag Thog or Thak Thak) is a Buddhist monastery in Sakti village in Ladakh, northern India, located approximately 46 kilometres east of Leh. The name Takthok, literally meaning 'rock-roof' was named because both its roof as well as walls are made up of rock. It belongs to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism and approximately 55 lamas reside there. It is the only Nyingma monastery in Ladakh.
The monastery was founded around the mid-16th century during the reign of Tshewang Namgyal on a mountainside around a cave in which Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the 8th century. Every year on the 9th and 10th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar, celebrations which include sacred dances are held.
Not only in Sani a particularly sacred place due to its having been visited and blessed by Padmasambhava of Oddhiyana but it is also prophesied to be equal and importance to the cemetery of Dechendal in India. There can be seen a cemetery ground with cemetery trees and cemetery springs and also a footprint of Guru Nima Odzer. In the centre of the rockface on the opposite side of the River there can be seen a meditation cave and a footprint.
It is said that the Guru stayed there practicing meditation for many years. In Sani is also the great Stupa of Kanishka founded in 124 AD. By king Kanishka and the sacred of Naropa which can be seen on the day of the pilgrimage to Sani which occurs in the 6th Tibetan month. Within the castle there can be seen the various and most beautiful wall paintings which were executed by Zadpa Dorje.
Thiksey Monastery, an outstanding specimen of Ladakhi architecture, is a glorious Buddhist monastery located nearby Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. Thiksey Monastery is the part of Gelukpa order in Buddhism and is beautifully located in the picturesque top of a hillock. It encloses numerous stupas, Thangkas, statues, swords, wonderful wall paintings and a large pillar carved with Buddha's ideas and preaching, all in a mammoth 12 storied building complex. A marvelous Buddha statue in the seated position is adorning the main prayer hall. Thiksey Festival, a major attraction for tourists and Buddhist devotees, is conducted here with splendor and much pomp.
Leh, a paradise for trekkers, is attracted by many natural lovers and adventurous tourist. The snow covered Himalayan trekking terrains poses mild to very tough challenges to trekkers. The experienced trekkers got the competitive chances of highly challenging and breath taking trekking trails in mountain ranges surrounding Leh. Safari through the plain valleys in the banks of Indus River is also very attractive. There are some trekking institutes which provide the necessary support for the na?ve trekkers.
The Tsarap or Tsarap Chu is a river of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. It flows through the Zanskar region of the state of Ladakh. The river joins with the Doda River to form the larger Zanskar River.
Tsomoriri or Lake Moriri (official name: Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve), in the Changthang (literal meaning, northern plains) area, is a High Altitude Lake (HAL) with an altitude of 4,595 m (15,075 ft) in Ladakh, India and is the largest of the High Altitude Lakes in the Trans-Himalayan biogeographic region, entirely within India. It is hemmed between Ladakh in the North and Tibet in the east and Zanskar in the west; the Changthang plateau is the geographical setting with snow peaks that provides the source of water for the Lake. Accessibility to the lake is limited to summer season only.
The Zanskar River is a north-flowing tributary of the Indus. In its upper reaches, the Zanskar has two main branches. First of these, the Doda, has its source near the Pensi-la (4,400 m) (14,450 ft) mountain-pass and flows south-eastwards along the main Zanskar valley leading towards Padum, the capital of Zanskar.
The second branch is formed by two main tributaries known as Kargyag river, with its source near the Shingo La (5,091 m) (16,703 ft), and Tsarap river, with its source near the Baralacha-La. These two rivers unite below the village of Purne to form the Lungnak river (also known as the Lingti or Tsarap).
Zoji La is a high mountain pass in India, located on the Indian National Highway 1D between Srinagar and Leh in the western section of the Himalayan mountain range. Though often referred to as Zojila Pass in the foreign press, the correct English translation is Zoji Pass or simply Zojila, since the suffix 'La' itself means pass in several Himalayan languages. In modern-day North Indian languages, 'La' and 'Darra' are both used interchangeably to mean pass.
Zoji La is 9 km (5.6 mi) from Sonamarg and provides a vital link between Ladakh and Kashmir. It runs at an elevation of approximately 3,528 metres (11,575 ft), and is the second highest pass after Fotu La on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway. It is often closed during winter, though the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is working to extend traffic to most parts of the year. The Beacon Force unit of the BRO is responsible for clearing and maintenance of the road during Winter.
- Other Monasteries in Ladakh : Thonde, Wanla, Zongkhul, Samstemling Gompa, Chimre Gompa, Gurphug, Mashro, Stongdey etc.
- Chushul Valley, Rupshu Valley, Tsokar Lake, Marsimik La, Rezang La etc.