Likir Gompa, Monastery, Ladakh

Likir Gompa Monastery is situated at 52 km from Leh little away from Leh-Srinagar highway near Saspul village , it was built in the regime of King Lahchen Gyalpo in 1065 AD under the supervision of Lama Duwang  Chosje of  Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. New addition to the monastery was made in 1999AD is the  23 metre (75 ft) tall a statue made of gilded gold of  Maitreya (the future) Buddha in sitting posture on the roof . It is one of the best kept monastery in Ladakh .

The name Likir means  “The Naga – Encircled”, representing the bodies of the two great serpent spirits, the Naga-Rajas, Nanda and Taksako . This monastery  originally belonged to the early Kadampa order of Tibetan Buddhism , Lama Lha-dbang-chosrje  student  of  Tsongkhapa  converted the lamas to the reformed doctrines of the Gelugpa order in 15th centenary . This  monastery is also popularly known as “Klu-kkhyil”, which means water spirits. It is believed that the monastery is the first in Ladakh to have been constructed by Tibetan monks.

Likir Gompa Monastery

The monastery is located on a top of hill on the bottom of hill is lush green agricultural fields it was expanded in 15th century by  Lhawang Lodos Sangphu . Monasteries that flourished during this period evolved their complexes as small fortress perched on strategic height, utilizing the terrain and reinforcing it with thick peripheral walls . Likir monastery is a classic example of a fort-monastery, main temple at the highest point followed by monks residence just below them and their after the village houses, thick peripheral walls and narrow  open spaces as movement paths.

There are over 100 monks and students who live here are taught Hindi, Sanskrit and English under the supervision of Central Institute of Buddhist Studies .It is also a seat of the Ngari Rinpoche the younger brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama .

Lord Buddha statue at Likir Monastery

The monastery has two assembly halls, known  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 ,in the hall there are statues of Bodhisattva , Amitabha, large statues of Sakyamuni , Maitreya  and Tsong Khapa the founder of the yellow-hat sect. The second hall 200 years old contains a statue of Avalokitesvara  with 1000 arms and 11 heads . The left wall has paintings of the 35 Confessional Buddhas while the right wall has an image of Sakyamuni with two of his chiefs by his side . There is a good collection of  old manuscripts, has a notable Thangka , old costumes and earthen pots . The upper floor has a  images of Lamas and the 21 manifestations of the White Tara, the consort of Avalokitesvara.

Assembly hall at Likir Monastery

Likir monastery also serves as the venue of an annual event Dosmochey, the assembly of votive offerings and sacred dances which takes place on the 27th day to 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan Calender .

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Wanla Gompa, Monastery,Ladakh

Wanla Gompa, Monastery is situated in Wanla village on a flat  ridge hill with a steep climb to the main building flanked by two shattered tower remnants of a 14th-century fortress. This Gompa is contemporary to the Gompas at Alchi built by Lhotsava   Rin-chen-bZang-Po in the early Eleventh centenary AD , it is considered to be most blessed Monastary in Ladakh and people from all over Ladakh come for a pilgrimage here. It is in the Khalsi  tehsil 65 km from Leh . One can reach by 4-5 hr. trek from Lamayuru .

Wanla Gompa, Monastery, Ladakh

There are three main structures but the middle structure is important it is similar in design and appearance to Sumtsek of Alchi , the windowless lower level is ventilated through a cut out hole in the middle of roof , the flat mud roof is supported by centrally placed wooden pillars with cross sections of columns on top. The upper levels are having small windows to provide light and ventilation in the rooms. One of the three building is actually tucked into a rock , it is a double story with stone base to give stability to the structure , rooms are in a line and can be reached by stairs, there is a balcony supported by a wooden frame.  the entire structure, wall paintings, decorations, woodcraft, subject and theme  are similar to that of Alchi.

Main Door to the Wanla Gompa Ladakh

It is one of the 108 Monasteries constructed during the 958-1055 AD under the patronage from King of Ladakh under the supervision of Lama Rinchen Zangpo . They were at some stage taken over by the Ka-dam-pa, and when it fell into decline they were taken over again, this time mostly by the Ge-lugs-pa.

Three storeys Avalokitesvara temple is one of the earliest known Drigung Kagyu prayer chambers still active in Ladakh ,  image of Chovo-je-Paldan Atisha can also be seen in the monastery.Wanla is a sub Monastery of Lamayuru , a caretaker Monk from Lamayuru takes care of daily rituals in the monastery. The main image Avalokitesvara is 11 headed Chuchigzhel form.

 

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Matho Gompa , Monastery, Leh Ladakh

Matho Monasteryis  located in village Matho about 26 Km from Leh City on Leh – Manali road just opposite the Thiksey Monastery on the banks of Indus river , founded by Lama Dugpa Dorjee in 16th centenary belongs to Sakya Order only one in Ladakh, it is famous for its 400 years old Thankas which were brought from Tibet. Inside the Lhakhang all the wall murals were painted in 1977 and are very colorfully done.

Matho Gompa Monastery

The right entrance wall shows a White Mahakal , to the left of this is a painting of the Four Headed Sarvavid the guardian aspect of Vairocana (the Teaching Buddha). The wall murals on the left side of the Lhakhang depict various lamas of the Sakya sect while the right wall shows the various manifestations of Sakyamuni. The central panel of the right wall depicts Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa and Mila Ras-pa, The central statue  is Sakyamuni, surrounding the statue are numerous small Buddha statues .

Matho Gompa Monastery Leh

Inside the Dukhang are two rows of seats for the lamas and a throne seat reserved for the Rimpoche,  behind the throne seat are, from the left, the thousand-armed form of Avalokitesvara (a Buddhist deity similar to the Hindu god Shiva and believed to be reincarnated in the Dalai Lama), Maitreya (the Future Buddha of Compassion), Sakyamuni and a blessing Buddha.  behind the throne seat are, from the left, the thousand-armed form of Avalokitesvara (a Buddhist deity analogous to the Hindu god Shiva and believed to be reincarnated in the Dalai Lama), Maitreya (the Future Buddha of Compassion), Sakyamuni and a blessing Buddha. left side of the Dukhang shows various Sakya lamas and the Four Headed Sarvavid. The right wall depicts the four-armed manifestation of Avalokitesvara, a blue Sakyamuni and two Sakya lamasThe Gokhang, in which meditation takes place, is ascribed great spiritual power as it is the room in which Matho’s order prays and enters into a trance. The oracle’s special clothing is hung in this room and the Gokhang also contains old weapons and Thankas, masks and statues. There is an old tradition,  a representative of every family from Matho village brings a small bowl of maize grain from the first harvest to this room.

Ladies are not permitted in this area.

The Matho Monastery hosts the Matho Nagrang Festival, an annual event. The festival takes place on the 14th and 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.

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Stakna Gompa , Monastery Leh, Ladakh

Stakna Gompa , monastery is situated at 25 km from Leh city in the Indus valley surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains. Stakna   means “Tiger’s Nose”   is built about 500 years ago on the summit of an isolated high rock looks like a tiger nose ,  in the middle of the Indus river on the left bank . It is a small monastery belongs to  the red-hat sect of Buddhism , it has several sister monasteries, including three in the Zanskar valley namely Mud and Kharu and those of Stakrimo, Bardan and Sani in Zanskar.

Stakna Gompa Monastery Leh

Stakna Monastery of Leh Ladakh is establised by Chosje Jamyang Palkar, the great scholar saint of Bhutan . The central image inside the monastery is that of the sacred Arya Avalokitesvara from Kamrup (Assam). This monastery is a visual display of the religious and cultural heritage of India and Buddhism.

 

The Gompa consists of the head Lama’s private apartment, a Dukhang (main temple and assembly hall) and the rooms of the Lamas and their attendants. the Dukhang or main assembly hall, which contains a silver gilted chorten, seven feet high, erected by the present head Lama in the 1950s. The chorten contains a statue of the Buddha and various Buddhist texts. smaller subshrines retain 400-year-old sandalwood statues.

Images in Stakna Gompa

 

One of the beautiful Idol at Stakna

 

Wall painting in Stakna Gompa

From the roof of monastery one can have beautiful views of upstream and downstream of Indus river and valley , bare slopes of Ladakh range in the North , snow-capped peaks and ridges of Zanskar range in the south .

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Spituk Gompa , Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

Spituk Gompa, monastery  is located at a distance of 8 km from the town of Leh ,  is perched on a high hill overlooking the Indus river. The name “Spituk”, meaning exemplary, a translator, Rinchen Zangpo, said that an exemplary religious community would develop here, thus give the name Spituk for the monastery. It was founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od in the 11th Century.

Spituk Gompa , Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

It was originally established as Kadampa school  after some time the monastery started functioning under Dharmaraja Takspa Bum – Lde Lama Lhawang Lotus  and introduced order of Tsongkhapa (Gelukpa), today the monastery functions under the Gelukpa order . Three  monasteries , Stok, Sankar and Saboo are the branches of Spituk Gompa all these monasteries are the successive reincarnations of Skyabsje Bakula Rinpoche.

Spituk Gompa Monastery Ladakh

Dukhang  the assembly hall is the main attraction of the gompa housing a high throne, reserved for Dalai Lama. The Chapel features images of  two chief disciples of Tsong-kha-pa and Lord Buddha.The large statue of Shakyamuni draws the first glance of the visitors. To the left of Shakyamuni is the statue of Guru Padmasambhava and to the right is the statue of the goddess Tara. The Gonkhang is the largest temple of the monastery and is dedicated to Kali Mata or Mahakala ,  in this temple there is a Six-Armed form of Mahakala, the White Guardian, the Brother and Sister, Khyitra on his dog and the Goddess on her horse.

Spituk Gompa has one of the fine collection of exquisite antiques such as ancient masks, thankas, antique arms and many more. Huge image of Lord Buddha and Amitayus which is about a finger high in length in the Gompa is very stunning.

Stupa at Spituk Gompa, Monastery Ladakh

Annual festival, known as the Spituk festival, is held here from 17th to 19th days of the eleventh month. There is another shrine, higher up the hill, known as the Mahakal Temple, dedicated to the deity of Vajrabhairava. It has a frightening face, which is unveiled only during the annual festival in January.

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Stok Palace , Leh , Ladakh

Stok Palace was built in 17th centenary by King Sengge Namgyal but after some time Royal family shifted to Shey Palace which was constructed in 1655 . When the Dogras army under Zorawar Singh of Jammu invaded Ladakh in 1842, the Namgyals shifted back to Stock across the Indus river  and made it their permanent residence.

Stok Palace Leh, Ladakh

It is located at 14 km from Leh across the  Choglamsar bridge on river Indus.

The Royal Palace is a four-story structure , sporting a mix of ancient and modern architectural style,  on top floors are the Royal family residence , the lower floors which were used as stables and stores are now converted into a museum having rich collections of royal jewels , ornaments, ceremonial dresses , crowns and centuries-old pieces of royal jewellery. Sooth paintings which are more than 450 years old paints prepared by crushed and powdered Gems and stones , the brightness of colors give a look of a new ,  the ancient headdresses still worn on important occasions , thought to have originated in Tibet, are encrusted with slabs of flawless turquoise, polished coral, lapis lazuli and nuggets of pure gold interesting collection of Buddhist art, weaponry, coins, seals, antique ritual objects are at display. The best display is the knotted swords , legend is once someone questioned the credentials of the Royal Oracle in the presence of the King , to display his supernatural powers he pulled out the sword of the King and tied a knot with it .

 

Stok Palace main entrance and Building

The location of Stok palace is gives excellent views of Stok – Kangri mountains in Zanskar range to the south across the Indus River and Ladakh range is in the south behind the palace. The Stok Palace is the best place to view sunrise and sunset from its roof top.

The Stok Kangri and Markha valley treks starts from here .

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Phyang Gompa , Monastery , Leh , Ladakh

Phyang Gompa ( Monastery ) is the only one of the Two in Ladakh belongs to Drigungpa School the red hat sect of Buddhism  established from the teachings of Phakmadrupa Dorje Gyelpo in 1110-1170 AD . Originally when the monastery was built, it was  known as Tashi Chozong, established in the year 1515AD. A monastic community was introduced to the monastery and with this started, the first establishment of the Digung teachings in Ladakh.specialized in Digung teachings under Skyoba Jigsten Gonbo , the head Lama of this monastery is the reincarnation of  Skyabje Tolden Rinpoche 

Phyang Monastery , Leh , Ladakh

It is situated about 16 km from Leh city on Manali Highway little inside  located on a hilltop above a small village called Chhiwang.

Its rich collection boasts of numerous idols, thankas, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons, hanging from the pillars in this temple are ancient Mongolian armaments, including armour, shields and helmets its 900 years old museum. These objects were taken from Mongolian soldiers who were killed in a battle on the site the gompa. The wall murals in the Gokhang depict Mahakala’s various and numerous manifestations. Behind the Mahakala satues are wall murals of Mila Ras-pa, Sakyamuni, Tilopa, Marpa and Naropa. With the exception of Sakyamuni , these are all associated with the founding of the red-hat sect. On the right side of the Dukhang are also two chortens decorated with semi precious stones. The larger one contains the relics Dam-chos Gyur-med, the previous Rimpoche of Phyang and the builder of this temple .

Phyang Gompa ( monastery) Leh , Ladakh

The festival of Gang-Sngon Tsedup is held every year from 17th day to 19th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, which falls in end July early August the traditional dancers perform the Chaam Dance and ritual display of giant ten meter Brocaded Silk Thanka . The monastery also serves as the venue of the sacred dances, held every year on the 2nd and 3rd of the 6th month of the Tibetan calendar.

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Tak Thok Gompa, Monastery, Shakti, Ladakh

Tak Thok Gompa Monastery is located at about 46 km from Leh in Shakti village ,  The name Tak Thok in Ladakhi means “Rock Roof” . 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.  Inside the Dukhang, are the statues of Maitreya (the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion), Padmasambhava and Dorje Takposal (a manifestation of Padmasambhava). Takthok Monastery also houses the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of Buddha’s teachings.  Behind this image is a small locked door leading to the small cave where Padme Sambhava is supposed to have lived and meditated for three years. This cave is not open to the public. The low roof of the Gompa is the stone of the cliff.

Tak Thok gompa, Monastery, Shakti village, Leh Ladakh

Most of the gompa consists of rooms hollowed out of the stone cliff by nature or man,  the wooden front of the gompa is only a front for the cave , called Duphug ( Tu-Phuk) Lhakhang, is a popular pilgrimage. Buddhists visit to be blessed by dubchu, the sacred water that drips from its ceiling even in winter, when the valley freezes over. The main treasure is an incomplete set of 29 volumes – the title pages lettered in solid silver of excellent craftsmanship and text in pure gold.  Tak-Thok’s Lamas  have developed texts to ward off evil spirits, epidemics and curses. They perform birth and death rites, recite prayers for longevity and wealth, even make astrological predictions.

One of the images in Tak Thok gompa Shakti, Leh Ladakh

The Rimpoche or head lama of Tak Thok is from Tibet and is extremely highly regarded by Ladakhis.

Mystic dances are performed by the lamas in the guise of various divinities and legendary characters. They perform the mystic dances as prescribes the protocol, consecrating and destroying the votive offerings ‘Stor-ma‘ in closing of the propitious performance , on the 9th and 10th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar.

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Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa of Ladakh was founded by King Tashi Namgyal in the early 15th century, around the year 1430. This fort was once the royal residence of the Namgyal dynasty and is flanked by some temples built in veneration of the guardian deities , these temples are still standing today, unlike the fort which is almost in ruins , temples are visited everyday by a monk who opens the doors to light the butter-filled lamps every morning and evening in adoration of the deities. This is the time one can visit the Gompa.

Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Monastery, Leh Ladakh

The palace also called Lechen Palkhar‘  is situated on a hill. Above the palace on the highest point of Namgyal hill stands the victory tower it was built to commemorate Ladakh’s victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the early 16th century, Dards bodies are placed under the image of Mahakala, the guardian deity to stop further invasion of Dards. At the back of the fort there are remains of much older fort , according to locals it is a Dard Castle which was built much before the Tibetan rulers came to Ladakh.

It boasts of a rich collection of some ancient manuscripts and wall paintings. One of the most treasured possessions of the monastery is a three-story high solid gold idol of Maitrieya Buddha (future Buddha, also known as the laughing Buddha). Namgyal Tsemo Monastery of Leh, Ladakh also houses a statue of Avaloketesvara and Manjushri, approximately one story high.

Gold statue of Lord Buddha at Namgyal Tsemo Gompa

In the gloomy interior, one can just make out murals of “Shakyamuni” (the historical Buddha) and Tsongkha-pa, founder of the Gelug-pa sect. The veiled central deity itself sports a shiny phallus, believed to cure infertility in women. It also enshrines nearly 10 feet high of statues of Manjushri and Avaloketesvara. The  view of Leh city and valley from the top is worth spending time .

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Shey Gompa , Monastery Palace, Leh , Ladakh

Shey is on Leh Manali road , located near Thikse monastery on a hillock about 15 kms from Leh. Large number of rock carvings, stupas and monastries are on this road , it has also the biggest Chorten field with hundreds of various size of shrines scattered across the desert land scape . Shey Palace and Gompa complex was built in around  1650 AD by the King Deldon Namgyal used it as a summer retreat by the kings of Ladakh, it is in ruins now. Shey Monastery was built in the memory of his father Singay Namgyal within the palace complex .

It is famous for the giant statue of Shakyamuni Budha second largest in Ladakh made of Copper with gold plating. Dogras of Jammu invaded Leh in 1834 Namgyal King abandoend Shey and made Stok acrossed the Indus river as their permanent residence.

Shey Palace Leh , Ladakh

It is famous for the giant statue of Shakyamuni Budha second largest in Ladakh made of Copper with gold plating. Dogras of Jammu invaded Leh in 1834 Namgyal King abandoend Shey and made Stok acrossed the Indus river as their permanent residence.Sahakyamuni Budha statue is 12 meters in height the wall behind has the immage of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana the two disciples of Lord Budha, walls around the statue are painted with images, this statue in the monastry is in three levels , the lowest level shows the sole pointing upwards, murals of Shambunath on middle floor are  in different postures of Budha, the upper dark floor is having butter lamps that burns eternally at altar. Number of wall paintings are displayed on the upper floor , lower flower is has a library and murals of Budha in various hand gestures ( mudras).the temple is constructed in such a way to allow lots of sun light to falls on the walls directly because of this the murals look bright.

Some distance from the palace is a small shrine built by Sengge Namgyal it houses Sakyamuni large statue in sitting position , here murals and images are similar to the palace shrine it also depicts the 16 Arhats the original deciples of the Budha along with the teachers Padmasambhava , Atisa and Tson-Ka-Pa , carvings are seen on rocks on road to the palace they are of Dhyani Budha one near the palace and other four near the chorten .  All these were crafted by the sculptor from Nepal Sanga Zargar Wanduk and few others their decedents are still living in a village called Chilling.

The official residence (phatong) Lama of the monastery is at the edge of valley and there is a beautiful sight of Indus valley.

There are two  festivals held here every year. The first festival is held at Shey Palace on the 26th and 27th day of the first month of the Tibeten Calander which falls in July or August month  This festival is called “Shey Doo Lhoo” to mark the beginning of the sowing season. The two day monastic celebration is marked by special rituals performed by the monks in the main monastery.  Villagers throng to the monastery in large numbers in a spirit of celebration . The second festival is called the “Shey Rupla” that marks the harvesting season. On this occasion farmers offer the first fruits of the corn at the monastery. A dance called the “Rhupla dance” is performed by two men in tiger costumes. Other forms of folk dances are also performed.

There is a belief that women without children offer special prayers here to Buddha seeking blessings to beget children.

Shey Chortens

Close to the palace is the funeral ground. The dead are carried in a chair after due rites are performed at home. The body is placed on a chair then carried to the funeral ground in a procession of Lamas and the common people of the village. The chair is then laid in a “tubular walled oven”, as prayers are chanted. The ashes are later scattered in the river.

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