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Thiksey Monastery

At a distance of 17 km south of Leh is one one of the most beautiful monastery of Ladakh region - the Thiksey Monastery. Initially, the gompa was constructed by Sherab Zangpo at Stakmo, however, later, his nephew, Paldan Sherab, established the monastery atop a hill to the north of Indus River. The monastery, belonging to the Gelukpa order, spreads over 12 storeys with a private abode of incarnate lama at the top.

Steps on the right side in the main courtyard leads to the new temple that houses a huge statue of Buddha.

The statue was built at the behest of His Highness, the Holy Dalai Lama, when he visited the monastery in 1980. The staue, 15 m tall, is the largest Buddha figure in the Ladakh and took around four years to build. Local craftsmen used clay and gold paint to make this image of Maitreya Buddha or the Future Buddha.

Directly above this temple, there is a small room where lamas impart education to local boys. Some of these boys are later chosen to become lama.

Coming back to the main courtyard, the steps directly across the new temple will lead upto a wall with murals of two Tibetan calendar with Wheel of Life. To the right of this wall is the main prayer room consisting of many handwritten and painted books. A small room right behind the main prayer room houses a huge image of Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha). Two smaller image of Bodhisattava are placed on its side. To the left side is the eleven headed Avalokitesvara.

The Lamokhang temple on the rooftop is the place where only males are allowed to enter. The Thiksey library, a repository of numerous volumes, including Kangyur and Stangyur, is also on the top.

Currently, the monastery, home to around 80 monks, is the main monastery for atleast ten other significant monasteries of Ladakh. Prominent amongst these are Diskit, Spituk, Likir, and Stok.

The annual festival of Thiksey is celebrated in the 9th month of the Tibetan Buddhist calendar. The festival is marked by the famous as well as sacred mask dance or Chham. In 2006, this festival will be celebrated on November 8 and 9 while in 2007, it will be celebrated on October 28 and 29.

Situated at an altitude of 3650 m (11,970 feet), Leh is the capital of Ladakh, one of three geo cultural division of Jammu Kashmir. The place is dominated by the Leh Palace which was constructed by King Sengye Namgyal in the 17th century. Leh is also a convenient base to pay a visit to many famous Buddhist monasteries which lie on two popular gompa routes - the Leh-Manali Highway and the Srinagar-Leh Highway. The first of this route has Shey, Thiksey and Hemis monastery as the prime highlights while the second one has Spituk, Basgo and Alchi as major attractions.

Other Attractions

Shey Monastery : The erstwhile residence of the royal family of Ladakh, the Shey monastery is at a distance of around 15 km from Leh. It belongs to the red hat order. The highlight of the monastery is a huge gold plated copper statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. All around the monastery, there are stone carvings and chortens which serve to enhance the overall appeal. The annual festival of Shey is celebrated on the 30th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan Buddhist calendar.

Stakna Monastery: On the right bank of river Indus, the Stakna Monastery stands on a hill shaped like a tiger's nose. It is from here that the monastery draws its name since the word stakna means tiger's nose. Leh is around 25 km in the northern direction from here. The most important attraction of the monastery is an image of Arya Avalokitesvara. With around 30 residing monks, Stakna Monastery is a rather a small one. However, it has quiet a few other monasteries attached to it. Significant amongst these are the monasteries at Mud, Kharu, Stakrimo and Bardan.

Hemis Monastery : Hemis commands the distinction of being the largest and the most important monastery in the Ladakh region. It is situated around 45 km away from the town of Leh and belongs to the Drukpa or the red hat sect. The annual festival of Hemis is celebrated for 2 days during the months of June and July and marks the birth day of Guru Padmasambhava.

How to get there
By Air - The airport at Leh is the closest one to reach the Thiksey monastery. Jet Airways and Alliance flights connect Leh to destinations like Delhi, Chandigarh, Srinagar and Jammu.
By Rail - Nearest railhead from Leh lies at a distance of 680 km at Jammu Tawi.
By Road - By road, Leh is linked to Delhi via Srinagar- Zoji La Pass route and Manali Rohtang pass. Both the routes are open between specific months, mainly between June to October.


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