About Thiksey MonasteryLocated in the Eastern region of Leh, Thiksey Monastery is one of the most beautiful Tibetan Buddhist style monasteries in India. At a height of around 3600 metres above sea level, it is situated in between the cold deserts of Leh and Ladakh. Known to be the largest Tibetan monastery in Ladakh, Thiksey monastery houses several stupas, statues and other Buddhist artefacts in its 12 storey structure. There are various sections which you can visit in the monastery, each of which has a distinct style of architecture.
The personal aesthetics with the surrounding snow-clad beauty of the monastery is what attracts tourists from all over the world. A striking feature of the monastery is the presence of a separate building of female renouncers apart from the statues, paintings and other exhibits.
The monastery also comprises Maitreya to commemorate the 14th visit of the Dalai Lama to this place. Be it the combination of nature and craftsmanship, the intermingling of various Buddhist sects and the coincidence of historical and contemporary architecture or the soothing, serene environment, this place is often known to be a place with rich cultural heritage. It is a must visit if you are in Ladakh.
How to Reach Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey museum is well connected through buses and cabs. You can use various forms of public transport from the nearest airports in Leh or Manali.
Flight- You can take a flight to Leh and then reach Thiksey monastery by taking the Leh-Manali highway. It would take you around 30 minutes to reach the spot.
Bus- You can also board a bus from Choglamsar in Leh. Buses are very frequent and leave from Leh for Thiksey at an interval of every 15 minutes. You would take half an hour to reach the spot, and it would cost you around 35 rupees.
Cabs- You can also take cabs from Leh which take you to Thiksey through Karu. It would take you around 40 minutes to reach the spot by taxis.
Best Time to Visit Thiksey Monastery
One can visit Thiksey Monastery between May to November. However, if you want to experience maximum festivities, you should visit the place during October or November. Most of the trade fairs and the Gustor ritual is held during these months. The monastery closes after November because of heavy snowfall and opens in the month of May. You can also visit the place between the months of May and June to avoid excessive snow and cold.
The bright sunshine during these months also helps you to explore the region the most. There are plenty of small occasions and festivals that take place during these months. Sand mandalas are constructed at the base of the hill for these festivals. Thus, even if you miss out on the most significant festival, this monastery would give you enough opportunity to experience the festivities.
Other Essential Information About Thiksey Monastery
Entry fees and timings- The entry fee for thiksey monastery is 20 rupees for both Indians and foreigners.
Timings- the monastery is open from Monday to Sunday from 7 AM in the morning to 7 PM in the evening.
History of Thiksey Monastery
According to a legend, Sherab Zangpo and Palden Zangpo wanted to build a more significant Tibetan monastery. While they were performing some rituals near the Yellow Temple and went to throw the Torma down the valley to complete the rituals, two crows came and flew away with the Torma offerings.
When Palden Zangpo and a few of his disciples started searching for the Torma, they reached Thiksey where they found the Torma to be carried by the crows and placed on a stone precisely the way they wanted to. They considered it to be a divine command and started on setting up the Thiksey monastery here.
Structure of Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey monastery is the largest monastery in Central Ladakh. It comprises several buildings of varying heights starting from the base of the hill to the hilltop arranged according to the importance of each building. There is a statue of a Tibetan deity at the foot of the mountain and a stupa at the tip. Each of the buildings is painted red, white and ochre colours and resembles the Potala Palace in Tibet.
The similarity is so substantial that Thiksey monastery is often known as the mini Potala. The monastery not only comprises different Buddhist statues, paintings and stupas but also houses 60 lamas whose quarters are located at the top of the hill. The interior of the monastery also comprises the statue of Maitreya Buddha, the Tara temple, an assembly hall and the Lamokhang Temple.
Festivals of Thiksey Monastery
Thiksey monastery hosts several festivals throughout the year. The Gustor ritual is one of the most famous Tibetan festivals held during the months of October or November. The day for the Gustor festival is calculated and celebrated on the 17th to the 19th day of the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar.
There are also a number of trade fairs held at the base of the hill where locals, as well as the tourists in Ladakh, come together to buy and sell a name of arts and crafts. The trades are mostly carried out through a system of barter and have a lot of significance for the local people.
Traveller Tips for Visiting Thiksey Monastery
Here are a few guidelines that you should follow while you visit thiksey monastery.
1. You cannot carry any food items inside the monastery.
2. Strict silence is to be maintained within the monastery.
3. Though the tourists are constantly under CCTV surveillance, it is suggested that you keep the utmost care of your belongings.
4. Keep your phones on silent mode.
5. Carrying pets into the monastery is strictly prohibited.
6. You need special permissions for videography
7. Still photography is allowed in the monastery. However, you should be sure that your flashlight is off.
8. You can often contact the monks of Thiksey monastery who would guide you through the buildings and also explain the architecture in detail.
9. You can additionally read on the history and various sections of the monastery to know its background before you visit the monastery which would help you to understand the various structures, artefacts and paintings better