Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh - 2020 (Photos & Reviews)

About Lamayuru Monastery

The Lamayuru Monastery in Lamayouro is one of the oldest and most significant monasteries in Ladakh. It is perched at a high altitude of 3,511 metres above sea level. Apart from being one of the largest monasteries in all of Ladakh, this Tibetan Buddhist monastery is also the oldest gompa in the region and is known as “the place of freedom” or “Tharpa Ling”.

Monks belonging to the Red-sect of the Buddhist order reside and meditate in this monastery, and more than 300 other monks are also affiliated under the monastery’s administration. The Lamayuru Monastery is a major tourist attraction in Ladakh, not only because of its spiritual and historical significance but also because of its incredible scenic beauty.

The height of the monastery allows visitors to enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains of Ladakh and you can also check out a bird’s eye view of the lakes that surround the area. More than 50 monasteries function under the direct administration of the Lamayuru monastery, all practising the tenets of Buddhism. If you are planning a visit to Ladakh, you must include a visit to the Lamayuru monastery as part of your itinerary.

How to Reach Lamayuru Monastery



There are a few convenient ways to reach Lamayuru Monastery:

By Bus:
State-run JKSRTC buses ply from Srinagar to Leh, which pass by Lamayuru Monastery which is near the base of the Fotu- La Pass. These buses usually go all the way to Kargil, and while the journey is time-consuming, it is exciting and passes through beautiful terrains.

By Car:
You can hire a taxi or a private car from Leh to take you to Lamayuru Monastery. The distance between the two places is 114 km and it takes approximately 2 hours to reach by road.

By Flight:
The closest airport is the Leh International Airport from where you can hire a car, book a bus or rent a bike to travel to Lamayuru Monastery, which is 114 km away.

Best Time to Visit Lamayuru Monastery



The best time to visit Lamayuru Monastery is between April and August. This consists of the summer season in Lamayuru.

1. Summer (April to June):
Summers in Lamayuru are very pleasant, with temperatures alternating between 25 degrees Celsius and 15 degrees Celsius. The sun can seem a little harsh and intense because of the thin air, but the weather remains clear and bright, making it the perfect time to visit the monastery.

2. Monsoon (July to September):
Monsoon seasons in Lamayuru can be very intense, with heavy rainfall disrupting your movement and causing landslides and blocked roads. It is best to avoid the area during this time, even though the monastery remains open and functional. However, the famous Yuru Kabgyat Festival takes place in July or August, so you can visit during this time if the weather permits.

3. Winter (October to March):
While tourists generally avoid Ladakh during winters, it is a pleasant time to visit if you like the cold. The daytime temperature stays at around 6-1o degrees Celsius, while night time is extremely cold and frigid. It is the perfect time to trek around the area.

What Not to Miss at Lamayuru Monastery


Apart from the stunning monastery itself, you can visit a few nearby places that are as breath-taking, capturing perfectly the essence of Ladakh.

1. Moonland: 
As you make your way out of Lamayuru Monastery, you can stop at Moonland, a vast stretch of mountainous terrain that resembles the surface of the moon. The undulating rock formations and the sandstone colour of the soil make for an ethereal, other-worldly view.

2. Wanla Gompa: 
Wanla Gompa is another beautiful monastery that is located very close to Lamayuru. It is also a sub-monastery of the Lamayuru Monastery, which means you can learn even more about the spirituality and practises of Buddhism when you stop by the Wanla Gompa.

This monastery also offers a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and is a trip you must not miss if you are visiting the Lamayuru Monastery.

3. Uleytokpo: 
Located at an altitude of 3,040 metres above sea level, Uleytopko is a small, quaint, trekking town that is located at close proximity to Lamayuru Monastery. It is sought after by tourists, trekkers and campers, as it is the perfect camping base and resting point for the attractions that are further uphill.

There are also accommodations in this small town, where you can rest for a day and let your body acclimatize to the extreme weather of Ladakh. You can catch some incredible views when you are here.

Other Essential Information About Lamayuru Monastery


History of Lamayuru Monastery

There are many myths, stores and urban legends attached to the Lamayuru Monastery. Because it is the oldest surviving monastery in the region, the actual history of the place remains vague and unverified. However, according to Drikung history, it is believed that the area on which the monastery now exists used to be a clear lake, which was cleared by the Indian scholar Naropa (956-1041 AD).

He established the first temple in the area known as Singhe Ghang. 
It is also believed that the King of Ladakh commissioned Rinchen Zangpo to build 108 gompas in and around Ladakh, the oldest of which can still be found in Lamayuru Monastery, by the name of Seng-ge-sgang (built in the 10th century).

The monastery originally consisted of 5 buildings, and you can see the ruins of some of those original buildings, even today.

Structure of Lamayuru Monastery



The Lamayuru Monastery is perched on the top of a steep hill overlooking the Lamayuru Valley, in a way that you can see the monastery as you climb your way up to your destination. A winding path leads you to the main entrance, which is decorated with a series of prayer wheels, that locals refer to as “
mani.”

The walls of the monastery are lined with ancient paintings, and within the premises, you can find the oldest gompa in the region. You can also walk through the ruins of the 5 ancient temples that comprised of the original Lamayuru Monastery when it was built in the 10
th century.

The Assembly Hall of the monastery is decorated with intricate Thangka art. You can also find a school and more prayer halls on the premises of the spacious monastery.

The Lamayuru Monastery is perched on the top of a steep hill overlooking the Lamayuru Valley, in a way that you can see the monastery as you climb your way up to your destination. A winding path leads you to the main entrance, which is decorated with a series of prayer wheels, that locals refer to as “
mani.”

The walls of the monastery are lined with ancient paintings, and within the premises, you can find the oldest gompa in the region. You can also walk through the ruins of the 5 ancient temples that comprised of the original Lamayuru Monastery when it was built in the 10
th century.

The Assembly Hall of the monastery is decorated with intricate Thangka art. You can also find a school and more prayer halls on the premises of the spacious monastery.

Major Festival of Lamayuru



The most significant festival that takes place in Lamayuru is Yuru Kabgyat, which is also known as the Lamayuru Festival. It is a major attraction for tourists because of the vibrant performances, traditional costumes and local food that is found here. Buddhist monks travel from all over the world, including the neighbouring countries of China, Tibet, Bhutan, Korea and Japan to attend the festival.

The locals dress up in colourful dresses and perform masked dances and dramas, depicting the life of the Buddha, and other stories from their culture. It is also a lively display of local instruments such as horns, drums and pipes, which are played with fervour by experienced artists, as an accompaniment to the dance and festivities.

Traveller’s tips for visiting Lamayuru Monastery



Here are some tips that can help make your travel plans seamless and smooth:


1. You do not need an ILP or an Inner Line Permit especially to visit the monastery, as it falls on the Srinagar and Leh Highway.

2. Take permission from the monks at the monastery before you take photos as it is strictly disallowed in some areas of the monastery including the prayer halls, so you must obey the rules of the place.

3. Mobile connectivity in the Lamayuru Monastery is feable unless you are using an Airtel or BSNL postpaid connection, so prepare yourself accordingly.

4. The monastery is at a very high altitude, so make sure you pack your clothes accordingly and take medicines and precautions to help with AMS.

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