Monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir: Culture and Tradition

Be it the Alchi Village, Nubra Valley, Hanle Valley or Leh and Ladakh, the beauty and aura of monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir trespasses beyond the Himalayan Kingdom. Attracting thousands of tourists from all over the world due to their colourful festivals, masked dances and other rituals, it creates its own traditional and cultural importance.

Colourful flags, monks, prayer wheels and chanting are important parts of the festivals of monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir. All these monasteries are famous for something peculiar, be it the few monks living there, wall paintings, stupas, statues or even the rituals.

Following are the main monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir

Alchi Monastery

This monastic complex of temples in Leh is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir. It is also one of the oldest monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir. Several Buddhist temples are weaved together in the Alchi village, thereby endowing its name.
It has its own unique ambience and feel. It is believed that it was built by Guru Rinchen Zangpo in between 958 and 1055. Stupas or chortens are the important part of the complex. The wall paintings in the monastery reflect the spiritual and artistic reflections of the rulers of Kashmir during those eras.

Chemrey Monastery

This Buddhist monastery was constructed in 1664. It has its own distinctive architectural style, with stupas and temples scattered over ragged terrains. It is located in the east of Leh.
It follows the Drukpa strand of Buddhist monastic order. Lama Tagsang Raschen had founded it and was constructed as a dedicated to King Sengge Namgyal.The? high Padmasambhava statue of the monastery is its highest tourist attraction. Text inscribed in gold and silver, along with scriptures collection makes the monastery even more valuable.

Diskit Monastery

Also one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries, it is located in the Nubra Valley in Ladakh. It follows the Gelugpa or locally called Yellow Hat strand of Tibetan Buddhism. It was founded in the 14th century by Changzem Tserab Zangpo.
The majestic statue of Maitreya Buddha in the prayer hall is the main tourist attraction of Diskit Monastery. One can also spot images of guardian deities along with a huge drum. The monastery also runs a school for children’s education. During Festival, the compounds of the monastery get alive with Dosmoche or popularly called as the “Festival of the Scapegoat”.

Hanle Gompa

Located in the Hanle Valley in Ladakh, this 17th century monastery is known for following the Drukpa School and Kagyu strand of Tibetan Buddhism. Located in Leh, it falls on the Ladakh-Tibet trade route. Around 10 monks live inside the monastery while only 33 monks come here regularly for prayers.
One of the most popular monasteries in Ladakh, Hanle Monastery was constructed during the time of Sengge Namgyal. The Indian Astronomical Observatory is also located within the Hanle Gompa in Ladakh, owing to its sensitivity with the Tibetian-Chinese border.

Hemis Monastery

One of the most popular monasteries of Jammu and Kashmir, it was constructed in the 11th century. It is 45 km away from Leh.? The Hemis Festival, celebrated annually, dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche is the main tourist attraction of Hemis Monastery.
The Ladakhi king Sengge Namgyal has constructed this Tibetan monastery. Large-pan drums, large size wind instruments, small trumpets and four pairs of cymbals add to the tourist attraction of the monastery during the time of fairs and festivals in Ladakh.

So, get ready to experience the Tibetan Buddhist feel of Jammu and Kashmir. Take a trip to monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir and experience the beauty different customs and rituals.

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