Alchi Monastery is situated in the Alchi Village of the Ladakh region. This Buddhist monastery is one of the oldest and most famous monasteries of the Ladakh. Most of the monasteries are perched on the hill in Ladakh while the Alchi monastery is snuggled in the lap of the Himalayas and built on the flat ground. The foundation of the monastery laid down in the 10th century by Rinchen Zangpo who was a Tibetan scholar. The architectural style of the monastery is a monastic complex that accommodates three separate areas known as Dukhsang, Sumstek, and the Temple of Manjushri. Alchi Monastery is famous amongst the adventure enthusiasts as this shrine is located near the Zanskar River and this river is famous for the river rafting. There are several eateries options available in the monastery as there are various restaurants that serve the traditional Indian and Tibetan food.
The architecture of Alchi Monastery
Alchi Monastery houses a structure named Dukhang which is the assembly hall of the monastery. This is also called as Vairocana Temple and it is also the first structure of the monastery. It is a place where monks worship and perform their ceremonies. This part is the most preserved area of the monastery. The walls are covered with beautiful paintings of Lord Buddha inside the assembly hall. This hall also accommodates the cultural artifacts of many gods and goddesses and that inexplicably conveys the cultural artifacts.
The three-storeyed building which is distinguished by the carved wooden porch is situated far away from Dukhang. Sumstek is the second structure that is popular for its four-armed Bodhisattva Statue that occupies two floors of the temple. The exterior of this structure made of loam and stone that depicts the glorious woodwork and clay images of the interiors of the structure. On the ground floor, there is a Maitreya Buddha along with the figures of the incarnations of Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, and Manjushri.
Further away to the courtyard, the Temple of Manjushri is the third structure of the monastery which is also known as Jampe Khakang. This place is famous for accommodating a sculpture and a painting of Rinchen Zangpo. The walls of the temple are exotically painted. These buildings are dated from approximately from the mid-12th to early 13th century and are built closely together at a single axis and all the structures surrounding them in single proximity. The lush greenery and natural beauty make the visit to Alchi Monastery memorable.
History and Significance
The origin of the Alchi Monastery dates back to the 10th century in the reign of Rinchen Zangpo(958-1055), an esteemed scholar and translator. During the 10th century, the Tibetan King Yeshe of Guge took an initiative to allocate 21 scholars in the Trans-Himalayan region in order to spread Buddhism. However, due to the harsh climatic and topographic conditions, only two scholars managed to survive, one of them was Rinchen Zangpo. He aimed at establishing the culture of Buddhism in the Ladakh region and in other parts of India including Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
Only a few monasteries survived, but the Alchi Monastery, which was also one of the monasteries established among the 108 monasteries, prides in standing out from the rest of the monasteries built so far and has become one of the most popular monasteries in Ladakh.
- Photography is strictly prohibited inside the premises of the Alchi monastery. Photography may be allowed outside the monastery by the monks. It is necessary to ask for permission for photography.
- Keep the shoes outside the monastery as shoes are not allowed inside the monastery.
- Maintain the decorum of the monastery and keep silence inside the complex and avoid disturbing the other people.
How to Reach Alchi Monastery
Alchi Monastery is situated on the Srinagar Leh Highway. One can catch a bus to reach the Alchi monastery or hire a private taxi from Leh.
Air: The nearest airport from the Alchi Monastery is situated in Leh and at a distance of 70 km. People can hire a taxi from Leh to reach here. It is one of the most convenient modes of transport.
Rail: The nearest railways station is the Jammu railway station which is located quite far from the region. So it is not the best way to travel.
Road: As the monastery is located on the Leh-Srinagar National Highway, people can get down from the bus when coming from Srinagar to Leh and visit the monastery. From Leh, people can catch buses and the availability of the buses from Leh is very good. The buses run every three hours from Leh to Alchi and it takes three hours to reach here from Leh. People can hire a taxi from Leh or hire a bike.
Best Time to Visit Alchi Monastery
The best time to visit Alchi Monastery is during the summer season when the weather remains good and comfortable for the excursion. The Buddhist festivals like Chotrul Duchen, Galdan Namchot, Losar (The Tibetan New Year), Monlam and Sho Dun take place during the summer season in the months of May to September. It is a perfect time to visit here as tourists can take part in the celebration and witness the enchanting beauty of the traditional and cultural heritage of the region. During the winter season the months of November to April, the roads to Alchi Monastery remain closed due to heavy snowfall.
Places to visit near Alchi Monastery
Alchi Monastery is situated in the Alchi Village and is surrounded by various famous tourist attractions. The places to visit near the Alchi Monastery are Likir Monastery, Lamayuru, Leh, Hemis National Park, etc.
Alchi Monastery Timings: 8:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M
Alchi Monastery Entry Fees: Nil