Ladakh is sandwiched between two vast mountain systems, the Karakoram to the north and the Himalaya to the south. Covering an area of about 60,000 sq km and ranging in elevation from 2600m to 7070 m, it is the largest and highest district in India. The Indus valley is the Ladakhi heartland, with the highest population density, and large amounts of agricultural land. Running parallel, roughly north-east south-west with it are a series of valleys and mountain ranges. North of the Indus valley is the Ladakh range, on the other side of which is the Shayok, and Nubra valleys. South of the Indus is the Stok range, clearly visible from Leh. On the other side is the Markha valley, a popular trekking destination. Farther south-west is a series of minor ranges and then uninhabited valleys we come to Zangskar, with the Kargyak and the Stod rivers joining at Padum, to form the Zangskar river which bucks the trend and flows north through a narrow gorge to join the Indus. To the south of Zangskar is the Grand Himalayan range marking the southern limit of Ladakh. To the east of this series of ranges is the Changtang, a high plateau home to nomads. It is known as Kharnak in the west, Samad Rokchen in the north east and Korzok in the south east. Not a true plateau, it has a chaotic assortment of minor mountains ranges not much higher than the wide valleys between them. With no drainage leading out of this area, there are a number of beautiful salt water lakes that make popular destinations for tourists.
Ladakh is country's coldest, highest and the driest zone. Ladakh has a cool and generally dry mountain climate. Much of Ladakh is above 11,000 feet (3,350 M). Therefore, you can expect warm to hot days in the summer and cool nights. In winter the temp may drop as low as
-35*C. There is occasional snowfall in winter caused by “Western Disturbances”. Summer days are generally warm, 25-30*C. Annual rainfall does not normally exceed 10cm/3.5 in though over the past decade or so there have been occasional spells of unusually heavy rainfall.
Information on Ladakh before the birth of the kingdom (10th century) is scarce. Ladakh can hardly be considered a separate political entity before the establishment of the kingdom about 950 CE, after the collapse of the early Tibetan Empire and the border regions became independent kingdoms under independent rulers, most of whom came from branches of the Tibetan royal family.
The earliest layer in the population of Ladakh was probably composed of the Dardi.Herodotus mentions twice a people called Dadikai, first along with the Gandarioi, and again in the catalogue of king Xerxes's army invading Greece. Herodotus also mentions the gold-digging ants of Central Asia, which is also later mentioned in connection with the Dardi people by Nearchus , the admiral of Alexander, and Megasthenes
In the 1st century CE, Pliny the Elder repeats that the Dards are great producers of gold. Herrmann brings arguments to show that the tale ultimately goes back to a hazy knowledge of gold-washing in Ladakh and Baltistan .Ptolemy situates the Daradrai on the upper reaches of the Indus, and the names Darada is used in the geographical lists of the Puranas
The first glimpse of political history is found in the kharosthi inscription of "Uvima Kavthisa" discovered near the Khaltse bridge on the Indus, showing that in around the 1st century, Ladakh was a part of the Kushana empire. A few other short Brahmi and Kharosthi inscriptions have been found in Ladakh.
The Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuanzang , c. 634 CE, describes a journey from Chuluduo (Kuluta, Kulu ) to Luohuluo (Lahul), then goes on saying that: "From here the road, leading to the north, for over one thousand eight hundred or nine hundred li by perilous paths and over mountains and valleys, takes one to the country of Lahul. Going further to the north over two thousand li along a route full of difficulties and obstacles, in cold winds and wafting snowflakes, one could reach the country of Marsa (also known as Sanbohe). The kingdom of Moluosuo , or Mar-sa , would seem to be synonymous with Mar-yul , a common name for Ladakh. Elsewhere, the text remarks that Mo-lo-so , also called San-po-ho borders with Suvarnagotra or Suvarnabhumi (Land of Gold), identical with the Kingdom of Women ( Strirajya ). According to Tucci , the Zhangzhung kingdom, or at least its southern districts were known by this name by the 7th century Indians. In 634/5 Zhangzhung acknowledged Tibetan suzernaity for the first time, and in 653 a Tibetan commissioner (mnan) was appointed there. Regular administration was introduced in 662, and an unsuccessful rebellion broke out in 677.
In the 8th century, Ladakh was involved in the clash between Tibetan expansion pressing from the East, and Chinese influence exerted from Central Asia through the passes. In 719 a census was taken, and in 724 the administration was reorganized. In 737, the Tibetans launched an attack against the king of Bru-za ( Gilgit ), who asked for Chinese help, but was ultimately forced to pay homage to Tibet. The Korean monk Hyecho (704-787) ( pinyin : Hui Chao) reached India by sea and returned to China in 727 via Central Asia. He referred to three kingdoms lying to the northeast of Kashmir which were "under the suzerainty of the Tibetans. The country is narrow and small, and the mountains and valleys very rugged. There are monasteries and monks, and the people faithfully venerate the Three Jewels . As to the kingdom of Tibet to the East, there are no monasteries at all and the Buddha's teaching is unknown; but in [these above-mentioned] countries the population consists of Hu, therefore they are believers.
The first Western Tibet Dynasty:
After the break-up of the Tibetan empire in 842, Nyima-Gon, a representative of the ancient Tibetan royal house founded the first Ladakh dynasty. Nyima-Gon's kingdom had its centre well to the east of present-day Ladakh. This was the period in which Ladakh underwent Tibetanization, eventually making Ladakh a country inhabited by a mixed population, the predominant racial strain of which was Tibetan. However, soon after the conquest, the dynasty, intent on establishing Buddhism, looked not to Tibet, but to north-west India, particularly Kashmir. This has been termed the Second Spreading of Buddhism in the region (the first one being in Tibet proper.) An early king, Lde-dpal-hkhor-btsan (c. 870 -900), swore an oath to develop the Bön religion in Ladakh and was responsible for erecting eight early monasteries including the Upper Manahris monastery. He also encouraged the mass production of the Hbum scriptures to spread religion. Little however is known about the early kings of Nyima-Gon's dynasty. The fifth king in line has a Sanskrit name, Lhachen Utpala , who conquered Kulu, Mustang , and parts of Baltistan .
Around the 13th century, due to political developments, India ceased having anything to offer from a Buddhist point of view, and Ladakh began to seek and accept guidance in religious matters from Tibet.
Continual raids on Ladakh by the plundering Muslim states of Central Asia lead to the weakening and partial conversion of Ladakh. Ladakh was divided, with Lower Ladakh ruled by King Takpabum from Basgo and Temisgam, and Upper Ladakh by King Takbumde from Leh and Shey. Bhagan, a later Basgo king reunited Ladakh by overthrowing the king of Leh. He took on the surname Namgyal (meaning victorious) and founded a new dynasty which still survives today. King Tashi Namgyal (1555-1575) successfully managed to repel most Central Asian raiders, and built a royal fort on the top of the Namgyal Peak. Tsewang Namgyal temporarily extended his kingdom as far as Nepal.
During the reign of Jamgyal Namgyal concerted efforts were made to convert Ladakh to Islam and destruction of Buddhist artifacts.Today, few gompas exist from before this period. Sengge Namgyal (1616-1642), known as the 'lion' king made efforts to restore Ladakh to its old glory by an ambitious and energetic building programme by rebuilding several gompas and shrines, the most famous of which is Hemis. He also moved the royal headquarters from Shey Palace to Leh Palace and expanded the kingdom into Zanskar and Spiti but was defeated by the Mughals, who had already occupied Kashmir and Baltistan. His son Deldan Namgyal(1642-1694) had to placate the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb by building a mosque in Leh. However, he later with the help of the Mughal Army under Fidai Khan son of Mughal viceroy of Kashmir, Ibrahim Khan successfully defeated the 5 th Dalai Lama in the plains of Chargyal, situated between Nimo and Basgo.
By the beginning of the 19th century, the Mughal Empire had collapsed, and Sikh rule had been established in Punjab and Kashmir. However the Dogra region of Jammu remained under its Rajput rulers, the greatest of whom was Maharaja Gulab Singh whose General Zorawar Singh invaded Ladakh in 1834. King Tshespal Namgyal was dethroned and exiled to Stok. Ladakh came under Dogra rule and was incorporated into the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1846. It still maintained considerable autonomy and relations with Tibet.
In 1947, partition left Ladakh a part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir,to be administered from Srinagar. In 1948, Pakistani raiders invaded Ladakh and occupied Kargil and Zanskar, reaching within 30 km of Leh. Reinforcement troops were sent in by air, and a battalion of Gurkhas made its way slowly to Leh on foot from south. Kargil was a scene of fighting again in 1965, 1971, and 1999.
In 1949, China closed the border between Nubra and Sinkiang ,blocking the 1000-year old trade route from India to Central Asia. In 1950, China invaded Tibet, and thousands of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama sought refuge in India. In 1962,China occupied Aksai Chin,and promptly built roads connecting Sinkiang and Tibet , and the Karakoram Highway , jointly with Pakistan. India built the Srinagar-Leh highway during this period, cutting the journey time between Srinagar to Leh from 16 days to two. Simultaneously, China closed the Ladakh-Tibet border, ending the 700-year old Ladakh-Tibet relationship.
Since the early 1960s the number of immigrants from Tibet (including Changpa nomads) have increased as they flee the occupation of their homeland by the Chinese. Today, Leh has some 3,500 refugees from Tibet. They hold no passports, only customs papers. Some Tibetan refugees in Ladakh claim dual Tibetan/Indian citizenship, although their Indian citizenship is unofficial. Since partition Ladakh has been governed by the State government based in Srinagar, never to the complete satisfaction of the Ladakhis, who demand that Ladakh be directly governed from New Delhi as a Union Territory . They allege continued apathy, Muslim bias, and corruption of the state government as reasons for their demands. In 1989, there were violent riots between Buddhists and Muslims, provoking the Ladakh Buddhist Council to call for a social and economic boycott of Muslims, which was lifted in 1992. In October 1993, the Indian government and the State government agreed to grant Ladakh the status of Autonomous Hill Council. In 1995, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council was created.
The language of Ladakh is Ladakhi , a Tibetan dialect with written Ladakhi being the same as Tibetan. Tibetans can learn Ladakhi easily but Tibetan is difficult to speak for Ladakhis. Spoken Ladakhi is closer to the Tibetan spoken in Western Tibet. Ladakhi language is a shared culture platform which brings the Muslims and Buddhists together as one people of this Himalayan region.
Ladakhis usually know Hindi and often English, but in villages without road access neither can be expected. A high quality Ladakhi phrasebook, Getting Started in Ladakhi, by Melong Publications, is available in Leh and well worth getting. Not only will any attempts you make to speak the language be appreciated, it will be useful.
Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being: Thukpa, noodle soup; and Tsumpa, known in Ladakhi as Ngampe, roasted barley flour, eatable without cooking it makes useful, if dull trekking food.
A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is skyu , a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables.
As Ladakh moves toward a less sustainable, cash based economy, imported Indian foods are becoming more important. You are likely to be served rice, dal (lentils) with veggies even in villages without road access, and it's standard in Leh.
In leh town you can taste a vaste range of cuisines- which include north Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, Italian and even Korean. Bakeries are plenty in Leh town. Strangely they all claim to be German Bakeries. They serve seasonal fruit pies, tarts, brownies and a variety of breads.
Flora & Fauna of Ladakh.
Ladakh's flora and fauna are more similar to those of Tibet than to the main Himalaya and are a product of the dry climate, cold winters and short growing season. The animals of Ladakh have much in common with the animals of Central Asia generally, and especially those of the Tibetan Plateau.
Zanskar (also Zangskar) is a region in Ladakh north west India . It is famous for its stunning scenery and Tibetan-style Buddhist monasteries. It borders on Ladakh to which it is almost identical from an outsider's point of view, only being more remote and less densely populated, with less infrastructure.
Nubra valley , north of Leh, located between the Ladakh Range and the Lofty eastern Karakoram mountains , lies Nubra, a region part green, part rocky and barren and part , rather surprisingly Desert and camels too. A region very unique in itself !
Pangong Lake , this vast lake , 150km long and 4 km wide , stretches from the north –east of Ladakh across the border of Tibet.There are some interesting birds around the lake shore including a few pairs of the very rare endangered black –necked crane.
Tsomoriri Lake , this high altitude lake is situated in the Rupshu region of eastern Ladakh near the border with Tibet. The mountains to the east of the Lake are crowned by two of Ladakh's highest summits, the Lungser Kangri (6666m/21,870 ft) and to its north, Chamser Kangri (6622m/21,712 ft).
Dha hanu, downstream from Khaltse along the lower Indus , live a group of people known as Brokpas, an isolated people of the purest Aryan stock who are racially , and in some ways culturally , very different from most Ladakhis. They are the only ones to have preserved their unique form of Buddhism which is mixed with the pre Bhuddist animistic religion, Bon.
Monasteries of Ladakh
Location 125 Km from Leh
Founded in 11th century by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa
Lamayuru Monastery is situated in Ladakh, in between Bodhkharbu and Kha-la-che, on a steep rock mountain. It lies at a distance of approximately 127 km to the west of Leh town. Lamayuru Monastery belongs to the Red-Hat sect of Buddhism and houses approximately 150 Buddhist monks. The monastery is made up of a number of shrines and also has a very rich collection of thankas and magnificent wall paintings. At the outset, the Lamayuru Monastery consisted of five buildings, out of which only the central one exists today. Every year the Lamayuru Gompa plays host a masked dance, which takes place on the 17th and 18th day of the 5th month of Tibetan lunar calendar. Today, the Lamayuru Monastery is served by the successive reincarnations of Skyabsje Toldan Rinpoche.
Location 67 Km from Leh
Founded in 1000 AD by Rinchen Zangpo1000 AD
Alchi Gompa dates back to the year 1000 AD and was built by the Translator, Rinchen Zangpo. He even made a reference about the monastery in his biographies. It is written that he brought thirty-two sculptors and wood carvers from Kashmir, for the construction of the Alchi Monastery of Leh Ladakh. The monastery is sited at a distance of approximately 67 km to the west of Leh. One can easily see an Indian touch in this monastery, especially in the way its paintings have been made. Three sacred temples, with the main one being that of Rinchen Lhakhang at Lotsa Lhakhang, make up a major part of the Alchi Gompa of Ladakh.
Location 60 Km from Leh
Founded in 9th century by Lama Duwang Chusje
The monastery is situated at a distance of approximately 62 km to the west of Leh town. Lhachen
The Likkir Monastery of Leh Ladakh was founded in the later half of the 11th century, around the year 1605. It belongs to the Yellow Hat Sect, founded by Tsongkhapa. It consists of a number of shrines inside its complex. Presently, it serves as the residence of approximately 120 Buddhist monks. The monastery also has a school, in which almost thirty students study. In the 15th century, Likir Gompa came under the influence of Lodos Sangphu. A disciple of Khasdubje, he made efforts to see that the monastery flourished and prospered..
Location 70 Km from Leh
Founded in 1831 AD by Lama Tsultim Nima
The Rizong Gompa of Ladakh was founded by the great Lama Tsultim Nima in the year 1831. It belongs to the Gelukpa Order, and is situated at a distance of approximately 73 km from the Leh town. The monastery serves as the residence of approximately 40 monks. Rizdong Monastery of Leh Ladakh consists of a number of shrines inside its complex. The gompa also has quite a rich collection of the painting blocks of Lama Tsultim Nima's biography as well as a number of objects made and books composed by the first Sras Rinpoche. A nunnery, known as Chulichan (Chomoling) is located near the monastery, at a distance of approximately 2 km. Comprising of about 20 nuns, the nunnery is under the control of the governing body of Rizong Monastery only.
Location 26 Km from Leh
Founded in1515 by Chosje Damma Kunga
Phyang Monastery of Ladakh is situated at a distance of approximately 26 km to the west of the Leh town. It belongs to the Red Hat Sect of Buddhism. The hill of Phyang served as the venue of a monastery, known as Tashi Chozong, established in the year 1515. It also has its 900 years old museum. Its rich collection boasts of numerous idols, thankas, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian firearms and weapons, etc. The festival of Gang-Sngon Tsedup is held every year from 17th day to 19th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar. 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.
Location 7 Km from Leh
Founded by Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od in 11th century
Spituk Gompa of Ladakh dates back to the 11th century. It owes its inception to Od-de, the elder brother of Lha Lama Changchub Od. Od-de led to the establishment of a monastic community at this place. A three-chapel monastery, Spituk is located at a distance of approximately 8 km from the town of Leh. The name "Spituk", meaning exemplary, has been derived from a statement of a translator, Rinchen Zangpo, about the monastery. He said that an exemplary religious community would develop there, providing the name Spituk for the monastery.
The festival takes place from the 27th to 29th day in the eleventh month of the Tibetan calendar. A sacred dance also forms a part of the celebrations.
Location in Leh town Just above the leh Palace on a Hill
Founded by King Tashi Namgyal in 1430 AD
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa was founded in the early 15th century, around the year 1430. It stands atop the crag behind Leh palace, having a full view of the town of Leh. And because of this position, it offers some of the most splendid visuals of the town. The Namgyal Tsemo Gompa of Ladakh was founded by King Tashi Namgyal and has been named after him only. It boasts of a rich collection of some ancient manuscripts and wall paintings. One of the most treasured possessions of the monastery is a three-story high solid gold idol of Maitrieya Buddha (future Buddha, also known as the laughing Buddha). Namgyal Tsemo Monastery of Leh Ladakh also houses a statue of Avaloketesvara and Manjushri, approximately one story high.
Location 1 Km north of Leh
Sankar Gompa of Ladakh is located at a distance of approximately 3 km from the town of Leh. A subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa, it belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect. The monastery also serves as the official residence of the Ladakh's head of Gelukpa Sect, known as The Kushok Bakul. There are time restrictions for visiting the Sankar Monastery of Leh Ladakh. You can also go either between 7:00 am and 10:00 am, or between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. These restrictions have been placed because a few of the monks, of the yellow-hat sect, attached to the monastery reside here permanently. Sankar Gompa also has the possession of Kandshur, the 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings.
Situated in Leh Town near Changspa
Founded by a Japaneese Monk in 1984
Shanti Stupa of Ladakh is located on the hilltop at Changspa. It can be reached quite easily from the Fort Road. The Stupa was constructed by a Japanese Buddhist organization, known as 'The Japanese for World Peace'. The aim behind the construction of the stupa was to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism and to promote World Peace. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama inaugurated the Shanti Stupa in the year 1985. A magnificent white-domed structure, the Shanti Stupa of Leh Ladakh offers spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. The stupa looks best at night, when it is beautifully illuminated with glittering lights. A large number of tourists come to Ladakh every year to visit this amazing stupa.
Location: 45 Km
Founded in 17th century by Lama Tagsang Raschen
Chemrey Gompa of Ladakh was founded by Lama Tagsang Raschen and dates back to the 17th century. Situated at a distance of approximately 40 km to the east of the town of Leh, this monastery belongs to the Drugpa Order. Infact, it serves as the residence of approximately 20 monks of the diminishing Drugpa community, and also their young apprentices. Chemrey Monastery of Leh Ladakh was initially built to serve as a memorial to King Sengge Namgyal. There are a number of shrines situated inside the monastery. However, one of the major attractions of the Chemrey Gompa is the one-story high image of Padmasambhava it houses. The monastery also serves as the venue for the festival of sacred dances. The festival takes place, on an annual basis, on the 28th and 29th day of the 9th month of the Tibetan calendar.
Takthok Monastery of Ladakh is situated in Sakti Village, at a distance of approximately 51 km from the town of Leh . The site where the monastery is now situated, once served as the meditation cave of Mahasidhas "Kunga Phuntsog". The name Takthok literally means 'rock-roof'. The monastery was so named, as both its roof as well as walls are made up of rock. Tak Thok belongs to the Nying-ma-pa sect of Buddhism, also known as the Old Order, and serves as the residence of approximately 55 lamas.
It is the probably the only Gompa in Ladakh that follows this order. Every year a festival is held at the Tak Thok Gompa of Leh Ladakh, on the 9th and 10th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar. Celebrations of the festival include sacred dances and the ceremony of hurling a votive offering.
Location: 46 Km
Founded in 1630 by First incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso
Hemis Monastery holds the distinction of being the biggest as well as the wealthiest monastery of Ladakh. It dates back to the year 1630 and was founded by the first incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso. Hemis Monastery is positioned inside a gorge, at a distance of approximately 47 km from Leh. Belonging to the Dugpa Order, it stands on the western bank of the Indus River. The monastery also boasts of a very rich collection of ancient relics. The Hemis Monastery also serves as the venue of an annual festival, known as the Hemis Festival. This festival is celebrated as a commemoration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhav. On the day of the Hemis Festival, the thangka of the monastery is displayed, with a gap of twelve years between successive displays. The Thanka is the sacred appliqué-work tapestry wrought with pearls, which depicts Guru Padmasambhava. And not to be forgotten is a sacred mask dance that is performed at the monastery every year. The dance takes place on 9th and 10th day of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar.
Location 25 Kms from Leh
Founded by Chosje Jamyang Palkar in 16th century.
Stakna Gompa of Ladakh is situated on the right bank of the Indus River, at a distance of approximately 25 km from the town of Leh. The name, 'Stakna' literally means 'tiger's nose'. The monastery was so named because it was built on a hill, which is shaped just like a tiger's nose. Stakna Monastery of Leh Ladakh owes its inception to Chosje Jamyang Palkar, the great scholar saint of Bhutan. It formed a part of the many religious estates offered by the Dharmaraja Jamyang Namgial to the saint, around 1580 AD.
Location Thicksey Village 20 Kms from Leh
Founnded in 1430 AD. By Spon Paldan Sherab, nephew of Sherab Zangpo
Thiksey Gompa of Ladakh is situated at a distance of approximately 18 km from the town of Leh. One of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh, it belongs to the Gelukpa Order of Buddhism. Sherab Zangpo of Stod got the Thikse Monastery built for the first time, at Stakmo. However, later Spon Paldan Sherab, the nephew of Sherab Zangpo, reconstructed the monastery in the year 1430 AD. The new monastery was sited on a hilltop, to the north of Indus River. Thikse Monastery of Leh Ladakh houses a temple, known as Lakhang Nyerma. This temple, built by Rinchen Zangpo, the Translator, is dedicated to Goddess Dorje Chenmo. A huge temple in its time, today it stands mostly in ruins. Apart from this temple, there are a number of other sacred shrines inside the monastery complex. The monastery also has a rich collection of numerous valuable artifacts and ancient relics.
Thiksey Gompa serves as the residence of approximately eighty monks. It has been served, for quite a long time, by the successive reincarnations of the Skyabsje Khanpo Rinpoche. The monastery also plays the host to Gustor ritual, organized from the 17th to 19th day of the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar. Sacred dances also form a part of this ritual, which takes place on an annual basis.
Shey Palace & Gompa
Location : 14 Kms from Leh
Founded by King Deldan Namgyal in 17th century
Shey Gompa of Ladakh is situated on a hillock, at a distance of approximately 15 km to the south of Leh town. The monastery was erected on the instructions of King Deldon Namgyal, in the memory of his late father, Singay Namgyal. The main image inside the Shey Monastery is that of Buddha Shalyamuni. It is a huge image of the seated Buddha and is considered to be the biggest metal statue and the second largest Buddha statue in the Ladakh region. Copper sheets, gilded with gold, make up this amazing Buddha statue. An annual festival is also held at Shey Gompa, on the 30th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.
Location 14 kms from Leh
Lama Lhawang Lotus in 14th Century
Stok Gompa of Ladakh is situated at a distance of approximately 15 km to the south of the Leh town. It dates back to the 14th century and was founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus. Stok is a subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa and belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism. As you enter the verandah of the monastery, you will come across bright friezes, depicting the Guardians of the Four Directions. The Dukhang of the monastery was repainted, not a long time back, and displays a rich collection of banners and thankas. A new temple, dedicated to Avalokitesvara, was added to the monastery some time back. The central image inside the temple is that of Avalokitesvara, with his 1,000 arms and 11 heads. A ritual dance-mask takes place near the gompa, on the 9th and 10th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.
Location: Nubra valley 130 Kms from Leh
Founded by Changzem Tserab Zangpo in 14th century.
Both the Diskit Gompa as well as the Hundur Gompa are situated in the Nubra Valley of the Ladakh region. Situated quite near the monasteries, at a slightly higher altitude, is Lachung Temple. One of the oldest temples of this area, the temple has a huge idol of Tsong-kha-pa, crowned with a Gelugpa yellow hat. Hundur Monastery of Leh Ladakh is situated just below the main road, near the bridge and Diskit Monastery is situated nearby. The Diskit Gompa dates back to the 14th century and owes its inception to Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a disciple of Tsong-kha-pa. At the heart of Diskit Monastery is an elevated cupola, which stands adorned with a beautiful fresco that illustrates the Tashilhunpo Gompa of Tibet. There are a number of shrines inside the monastery's complex, like Kangyu-lang, Tsangyu-lang, etc. Also, hundreds of Mongolian and Tibetan texts have found their storehouse inside these temples. Diskit Gompa has quite an interesting legend attached to it. It is believed that a Mongol demon once lived here and was considered to be a sworn enemy of Buddhism. He was annihilated near the monastery. However, even after his death, his body kept coming back to the monastery again and again. It is said that even today the wrinkled head and hand of the demon lie inside a temple of the monastery, which is filled with fierce Gods and Goddesses.