Lamayuru Gompa , Monastery, Ladakh

 Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompa in Ladakh, situated in Kargil district on Srinagar- Leh highway at a height of 3510 meters,127 km from Leh about 15 Km from Fotu-La, it was originally the Bonpo Monastery   called gYung-drung Monastery, a Swastika symbol and  gYung drung bon  is the name of the Bon religion , The Maha Sidhachrya Naropa founded the Lamayuru Monastery , he was a Buddhist scholar from Nalanda University who came here in search for his guru Tilopa, a master of Tantra,  the oldest temple  Seng-ge-sgang  was built by Monk Rinchen Zangpo who came from Tibet , great translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan, he under the patronage  from  King of Ladakh founded 108 Gompas in Ladakh, Spiti , Kinaur and Zanskar region.

Lamayuru Gompa ( Monastery)

The monastery is made up of a number of shrines and also has a very rich collection of thankas and magnificent wall paintings.

The Dukhang (Assembly hall) is on the right side of the courtyard  with a colourful depiction of the Guardians of the Four Directions. The mural on the left wall of the verandah depicts the proper way for a lama to live ,The temple has an image of Vairocana or the Teaching Buddha is seated on a lion serving as a throne and a Garuda (mythical bird) and sea monsters surround his head . In the wall on the right side of the Dukhang is a small cave with three statues known as Naropa’s cave, where he is supposed to have meditated ,  other two statues are of Marpa (Naropa’s student who became a translator of religious texts and famous poet) and Mila Ras-pa (Marpa’s student and a spiritual head of the red-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism). The right side of the Dukhang has three complete sets of the Kandshur (the 108 volumes of Buddha’s teachings)

Lamayuru Gompa Assembly hall

 

Stupas at Lamayuru Gompa

Legend is that this valley there use to be a lake  at the time of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha). Nags (holy serpents) used to reside in the lake. Bodhisattva Madhyantaka pridicted that  the lake would eventually be dried, making way for the construction of a Buddhist monastery.  Maha Siddhacharya Naropa,  meditated for years in one of the caves  , a crack developed in the hillside surrounding the lake. When the lake dried out he found a dead  tiger, he constructed the first temple at this site , known as the Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound).  Later, Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial offered the monastery to Chosje Danma and started  observance of the rituals of the Digung Kargyud School, the monastery was  renamed as Yungdrung Tharpaling. At present the Lamayuru Monastery is served by the successive reincarnations of Skyabsje Toldan Rinpoche.

Mahasidhacharya Naropa meditated in this cave

Lamayuru Gompa plays host a masked dance, The Yundrung Kabgyad festival which takes place on the 17th and 18th day of the 5th month of Tibetan lunar calendar which falls in the month of July. The monks from the monasteries of the nearby areas also come to take part in the celebrations.

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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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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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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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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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Hemis Gompa, Leh , Ladakh

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Hemis Gompa in Hemis town 40 km from Leh city , it is a famous monastery founded by King Senge Nampar Gyalva  in 1672 AD , every year in the month of July a colorful festival is held in the compound attended by not only the locals but people from all over the world. Hemis gompa is also believed to have been established in 1630 by Lama Tagstang Raspa and built by Palden Sara under the patronage of King Sengge Namgyal on a site previously sanctified by the construction of a cave hermitage dating from the 12th century. This monastery is the oldest one in the area belonging to the Kargyu school .

Hemis Gompa main compound

This two-day festival depicts a dance-homage to the birth anniversary of Lord Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. The festival is the largest and biggest of the Tibetan Buddhist Gompa festivals in Ladakh. It is celebrated across three days from the 9th to the 11th day of the fifth month of the lunar Tibetan calendar, vibrant and endless dances are accompanied by discordant sounds of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large  size wind instruments . The lamas  get transformed into demons and gods , bang on drums and crash symbols together as others gyrate and leap to fight off demons.

 

Hemis information display at entrance

The predominantly practiced religion in Ladakh is the Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism is based on the eighth tenet of the concept of the eight fold part as propagated by Lord Buddha. This form of Buddhism stresses on meditation and concentration. One of the most innovative concepts introduced by the Mahayanists is that of the bodhisattvas. 

As one enters the courtyard, to the right are two large temples up small flight of stone steps. The fronts have a wooden verandah of Kashmiri style, rising two storeys. As one faces them, the temple on the left is the Tshogs-khang and on the right is the Dukhang. The Dukhang contains the throne of the Rimpoche and seating areas for the lamas.  Tall wooden pillars rise in the center to a square cupola with windows that supply light to the throne. The walls also have paintings of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) with the blue hair, other Buddha figures and paintings of Tantric deities such as Hevajra and Samvara. In the Tshogs-khang is a large gilded statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha with blue hair surrounded by several silver chortens decorated with semi-precious stones. In front of the Buddha is a throne made of painted and lacquered wood, a present from the former Maharaja of Kashmir to a former Incarnate Lama of Hemis

Pehar Gyalpo the protective Deity of Hemis

Pehar Gyalpo, revered as the protective deity of Hemis. It is said that Pehar was once the lord protector of Sam-Yas monastery and a monk from there by hiding the spirit of this deity inside a cymbal had brought it to Hemis. Each day sacred rituals are performed to evoke Pehar’s blessings.

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