Alchi is one of those few places in Ladakh where monumental antiquity plays a key role in both shaping and reviving its spiritual mysticism; for what really began a thousand years ago still shows visible signs through some of the oldest and the most revered monasteries in this region. Drawing the attention of historians, conservators, and spiritually-inclined travelers alike, Alchi has easily managed to hold a hallowed space in the sphere of spiritual travel in India. If you are looking for that reclusive retreat in the lap of unperturbed stillness itself then make no mistake, Alchi is the place you are searching for. Breathtaking Alchi – Leh.
Settled calmly on lowland terrain south of the river Indus in the village of Alchi is the oldest and the most magnificent monastic complex (Chos-‘Khor) known as Alchi Gompa. The Alchi Gompa is a storehouse of some of the most impressive Indo-Tibetan murals and artwork, which clearly fuel the word that the great translator had brought several artisans from Kashmir for the construction work. Created somewhere between the 11th century and the 13th century, the ancient murals are still preserved in immaculate shape even after all these years and exhibit an artistic style that was highly popular in Kashmir at one time.
Situated about 52 kilometers from Leh and 9.5 kilometers north of the Srinagar-Leh highway, Likir Monastery, or Klu-Kkhyil (Water Spirits) Gompa as it is known was built in the 11th century by Lama Duwang Chosje. Literally meaning “The Naga – Encircled,” Likir stands enclosed by the bodies of the two great serpent spirits, the Naga rajas, Nanda, and Taksako. The architecture of the monastery is quite unique with thangkas of the guardian deities and a Bhavacakra mandala held by Yama himself gracing the verandah. An unusual sight that will catch your attention is a 25 feet statue of a sitting Sakyamuni dominating the roof at the entrance of the monastery. Interestingly, there’s also a small museum inside the monastery, which contains valuable artifacts that are 300-400 years old, including Tibetan thangkas, manuscripts, robes, and even earthenware.
Driving down about 73 kilometers from the town of Leh you will come across one of the most structurally intriguing monuments is the Rizong Monastery, which is also known as the Yuma Changchubling locally. Founded in the year 1831 by Lama Tsultim Nima and following the Yellow Hat or Gelugpa order of Buddhism, the monastic complex is famed as a “paradise for meditation” with highly firm regulations of celibacy set for the followers. There is a firm belief attached to the monastery, which reveals that the great Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the sanctums of the caves around the monastery long before it was constructed. About 2 kilometers or a pleasant 45 minutes walk away from the Rizong Monastery is the Jelichun Nunnery, also known as Chulichan (Chomoling), the spiritual sanctuary of more than 20 nuns. Fascinatingly, even the nuns lead a life of celibate monasticism here, lending a great hand to the success of the monastery, their only compensation being the opportunity to inch closer to higher spiritual learning.
Situated about 65 kilometers from Leh on the mountainous terrain south of the river Indus, the sleepy village of Alchi is one of the most profound spiritual destinations in the Trans Himalayan region. Alchi stands at an altitude of 3,250 meters (10,662 feet) and is one of the bigger villages in the lower Ladakh region, with four other smaller settlements within it. A bevy of monasteries and chortens abound this quaint village, of which the most renowned is definitely the Alchi Monastery complex. These historical monuments make their way from diverse ages and display various stages of restoration today.
Alchi Choskor Monastery is a branch of Likir raised by Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo. It is one of the largest and most reputed monasteries of Ladakh. Its complex comprises of three sections- Dukhang, Sum-tsek, and the temple of Manjushri.
Unlike others, Alchi is located on a plain land and boasts of ancient sculptures, books, paintings, and figurines. Alchi Monastery in Ladakh is ne of the most popular attractions here.
Key attractions of Alchi Monastery: Sum-tsek- three-story temple, four armed huge Bodhisattva statue, white Avalokiteshvara statue, an idol of Maitreya Buddha, and Jampe Lhakhang Temple.
How to reach Alchi Monastery: From Leh, travel towards the banks of Indus River off Leh – Srinagar road for 70 km to reach this age-old monastery. Private cabs are the best options.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Monasteries In Ladakh
Q. Which is the oldest monastery in Ladakh?
A. Lamayuru is the oldest monastery in Ladakh.
Q. What is the altitude of Ladakh?
A. The altitude of Ladakh is 3,500 m.
Q. Which is the capital of Ladakh?
A. Leh and Kargil are the capital of Ladakh.
Q. When did Ladakh become part of India?
A. Ladakh become part of India in 1947.
Q. Which is the largest monastery in Ladakh?
A. Diskit Monastery is the largest one in Ladakh.
Q. How many monasteries are there in Ladakh?
A. There are over 100 monasteries in Ladakh.
Q. What is Ladakh famous for?
A. Ladakh is famous for its picturesque beauty, unique culture, Buddhist monasteries and exciting adventure spots.
Q. What is Gompas in Ladakh?
A. Gompas is the local word used for monasteries in Ladakh.