Besides its adventure activities and mountain passes, there’s another thing for which Ladakh is famous that is monasteries. With so many beautiful and heart-warming monasteries, giving an air of timelessness, Thiksey Monastery is the one. Perched at an altitude of about 3,600 m in the Thiksey village, it is one of the largest and most prominent monasteries in Ladakh. It is situated only about 20 kilometers to the south of Leh and is a twelve-story monastery located atop a hill. Rendering jaw-dropping views of the town as well as of the Indus valley, it becomes a must-visit spot.
History of Thiksey Monastery
Almost all the monasteries have a background story while the Thiksey monastery history is no exception to this. As per the popular tale, a 15th century Tibetan Buddhist monk with the name Jangsem Sherab along with his disciple, Palden Sherab were offering prayers with a ritual cake at a place which was located some 3 km from where the monastery stands today. Out of nowhere, a crow grabbed the cake and flew away. But after searching for it, they found the cake placed atop a hillock, in exactly the same condition as before. This was taken as a positive sign by the Buddhists who decided to build a monastery at that very auspicious spot. Thus, ‘Thiksey’ was the name given to this monastery which implies,”perfect order” from the fact that the cake remained in perfect order.
Structure and Beauty of Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey Monastery Leh offers marvelous views as it is located on the top of a hill. It includes numerous white buildings arranged in hierarchical order. It consists of 10 temples and at present, it has over 100 monks. It is a great place for sightseeing and exploration. It is a Gompa affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It has a separate set of buildings for female renunciates. It houses a lot of items belonging to Buddhist art like stupas, thangkas, swords, statues, wall paintings, etc. It is also the largest such structure in central Ladakh. It has buildings arranged in ascending order of importance. Its architecture is much like that of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet which was the erstwhile official seat of the Dalai Lamas. It is also popularly called the “Mini Potala.” It is painted in colors like red, white and ochre.
Things to Do at Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey monastery Ladakh is where you can learn a lot about Buddhism. You can spot the statue of the protector deity at the very entrance. You can also catch the sight of the flood plains of Indus valley. The monastery is filled with a lot of attractions on the inside. Maitreya Buddha is a significant attraction which is actually a large statue, about two-story-tall. Then, there is the Assembly Hall entrance with a wall having murals of the Tibetan calendar. Beyond the prayer room is a small sanctum and there is a small temple called ‘Tara’ dedicated to the Goddess. They also have Lamokhang Temple with many scriptures like Stangyur and Kangyur.
Festivals Celebrated at Thiksey Monastery
During the festival held in October or November, the sacrificial cake is distributed. The highlight here is the famous mask dance, performed by the monks. A fair is also held at the monastery’s base during this time.
How to Reach Thiksey Monastery
It can be reached from Leh in about 35 minutes. You can take a regular bus that leaves every 15 minutes from the Leh bus stand. You can also hire a cab from Leh to Thiksey which will take about 35-40 minutes. Just drive towards Karu and Thiksey is en route.
Best Time to Visit Thiksey Monastery
Summer season is the best time to visit the Thiksey Monastery. During the winter season, the place is closed due to snowfall and it opens again in May. The best time to visit is in the morning when you can witness rituals and take part in morning prayers.
Thiksey Monastery Timings: 7:00 A.M to 7:00 P.M
Thiksey Monastery Entry Fee: INR 20 for both the locals and foreigners.
Some Useful Tourism Information Links of Leh Ladakh:
Leh Ladakh Travel Guide 2. Tourist Attractions in Ladakh 3. Ladakh Weather Information 4. Ladakh Best Time to Visit 5. How to Reach Ladakh