Thiksey monastery has one of the most recognisable images of the Ladakh. It is imposing- standing on a hill top with complete hillock dedicated monastery campus. One just can’t miss this place as it is right adjacent to the road to Leh while coming from the Manali side. Its also very close to Leh, just 19 kms before it. It is also one of the biggest monasteries in Ladakh. It is also said to resemble Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. At the altitude of 3,600 metres this monastery overlooks the Indus Valley with full view of the magnificent Stok range.
There are two ways to reach the monastery on the top. There is a pedestrian way but that is quite steep. But one can also drive right to the entrance of the monastery via a loop on the hill. That route is just more than a kilometre. There is a parking area and then one has to walk up, still quite a bit of stair-work. But that all is quite worth it. Overall it is a 12 storey complex.
One you reach at the top and enter the monastery campus the surrounding view of the Ladakh valley is mesmerising. It looks something like this on the one side-
Thiksey monastery is most popular among tourists after the Hemis monastery. Spon Palden Sherab with his Master Jangsem Sherab Zang, one of the six contemporary disciples of Lord Tsongkhapa, the founder of Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, responsible for the dissemination of his teachings to the remote provinces founded Thiksay monastery in 1433 AD.The disciple of “Jamgon sokapa, Sherab Zangpo” of stod, first built the temple of Stkmo Lakhang at top the Thiksay Alley. Then Paldan Sharab nephew of Sherab Zangpo, founded Thiksay monastery. Here are sacred shrine and many precious to be seen. The successive reincarnation of Skabjay Khanpo Rinpoche act as in charge of the monastery. This monastery houses many items of Buddhist stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and other ornaments.
See the photo gallery of the interiors of the monastery-
The highlight of the Thiksey monastery is the temple of Maitreya Buddha, also known as future Buddha. This is the newest temple in the monastery consecrated in 1980 by Dalai Lama. This temple has 12 metre (40 ft) high statue of Maitreya Buddha which is said to be largest such statue in Ladakh. Thirty artists took three years to build this statue. It is made of clay and terracotta brick painted with gold. The murals behind the statue tell the story of the future Buddha.
Biggest festival of the monastery Thiksey Gustor is held on the 17th, 18th and 19th day of the 9th month of Tibetan lunar calendar every year. It is a traditional ceremony conducted in the monasteries of Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. During these days of festival mask dances are performed by monks of the monastery wearing colorful silk brocaded robes and mask in different forms of Gods and Goddesses. The celebration end with the dismembered and dispersal of the Torma (Sacrificial Cake) by the leader of the Black hat dancers in a ceremony called “Argham” or “klling”. This sybolise the destruction of all form of evil. And also re-dnacts the assassination of the Tibetan apostate King Lang-Darma, by a Buddhist monk in the mid 9 th century. This year Thiksey Gustor will be celebrated on 17th and 18th November.
Monastery also runs a hotel- Chamba Hotel which is located right at the base of the hill from where way to monastery starts. So those who want to stay close to the monastery can stay here. There are different categories of rooms here. Good option if one wants to be part of the early morning prayers. Besides, there are also simpler guest rooms in the monastery campus itself. But the guests are not allowed to stay in rooms of monks. For day-visitors, staying at Leh is the best option.
Are you planning to go there for Thiksey Gustor on 17th-18th November?
Make sure to visit next time you are in Ladakh.