Built in 1630, the Hemis Monastery is the biggest and very richly endowed monastery of Ladakh. Buddha figure, gold and silver stupas, and more. Sacred Thangkas, murals, and other items may be seen throughout the monastery. Mahayana Buddhism's Drukpa Lineage (also known as the Dragon Order) runs through this monastery in Tibet which was founded by Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorje in the 13th century by Tsangwang Drukpan. The monastery's colourful Tibetan-style architecture is a visual treat with the assembly hall, called Dukhang, and the temple, called Tshongkhang, having been separated by a wall. Additionally, the monastery's enormous courtyard is well worth the visit as you will find the Buddhist murals depicting Kalchakra cover the verandah.
The timings of the monastery are from 6 AM to 8 PM. You can visit the monastery any time between this time span.
The Hemis Monastery was built in 1630 in the 11th century. The monastery of Hemis is connected with Naropa, the pupil of the yogi Tilopa, and teacher of the translator Marpa. It is believed that Naropa and yogi Tilopa met at Hemis and together from here they proceeded to the ancient kingdom of Magadha. Naropa was the founding father of the Kagyu-lineage of the Himalayan esoteric Buddhism. Therefore, Hemis Monastery is the main seat of the Kagyu lineage of Buddhism.
The architecture of the Hemis Monastery is that of Tibetan style. The main building of Hemis Monastery has white walls. The entrance to the Hemis Monastery complex is through a giant gate that opens to a large courtyard. On the northern side are two assembly halls, and the guardian deities and the Wheel of Life are situated here. The monastery also has a library on its premises.
HIGHLIGHTS OF HEMIS MONASTERY
- Visit the 17th century shrine of Hemis Monastery that belongs to Buddhism’s Drukpa lineage.
- Walk up to the central courtyard and let the spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and mountains fascinate you.
- Explore the rich collection of dated remnants namely the buddha statue made of copper, various artifacts, murals, silver and gold stupas.
- Appreciate the impressive structures, and architecture of the monastery.
- Enter the assembly hall to discover the Gyalpo statue also known as the fierce protector believed to shield the monastery.
- Stop by the Dukhang Barpa to appreciate the Sakyamani statue, and Guru Lhakhang to marvel at the Guru Padmasambhava statue.
- Partake in the Hemis festival that involves the unfurling of a massive religious painting called thangka before a huge crowd.
- Visit the monastery’s museum which has an extensive collection of different weapons, carriers, artifacts, Buddhist thangkas, and manuscripts on display.
- Shop for souvenirs such as books and t-shirts from a small shop near the museum for friends and family back home.
WHAT TO SEE INSIDE THE MONASTERY
- Monastery Courtyard – A short distance later, towards the monastery's main courtyard you will come across the breath-taking panoramas of the surrounding mountains and countryside which is bound to captivate you.
- Prayer Hall of the Monastery – Tibetan paintings on silk cloth representing deities or mandalas are known as Thangkas, and the prayer hall featured an impressive collection of them. Thanks to its enormous size, one of the monastery's Thangkas could only be presented once every 12-years or so.
- Assembly Hall – In this chamber, a statue of the Gyalpo (Fierce Protector) can be seen, who is said to guard the Hemis Monastery. The statue is a representation of Tantric Buddhism in its greatest and most effective form.
- Monastery Museum – Buddhism's most famous artwork, artefacts, and weaponry are all on display at the Monastery Museum. The most attractive feature of it is that it is nicely illustrated, and displays numerous monastic artefacts. There is a tiny shop on the ground level of the museum where souvenirs including t-shirts, books, and other items are sold.
- Dukhang Barpa – In the centre of the prayer halls is the Dukhang Barpa, and the room is employed only for special occasions. For the Hemis Festival, it serves as a dressing room and waiting area for the performers, and also features a large Shakyamuni sculpture and statues honouring Gyalra Rinpoche, Stagsan Raspa, alongside countless stupas.
- Dukhang Chenmo – Stagsan Raspa and Drukchen take their places in the prayer hall known as the Dukhang Chenmo. In the monastery, it is one of the most prominent places to be at because the Drukchen and Stagsan, as well as other gods and masters, are honoured in this place through sacred rites and invocations of their namesakes.
- Visitors’ Gallery – Because of water seepage damage in several areas, the gallery was completely reconstructed in 1996. To accommodate more people, however, the gallery's size had to be altered. The Gersang Hermitage's collection of notable paintings and reliefs are on display in the gallery. Sculptures, woodblocks, metal artefacts, manuscripts, and decorated textiles were once displayed in the gallery but have since been relocated to the museum at the other end of the space.
Ladakh's Hemis Festival is one of the most significant Buddhist celebrations and garners a lot of attention of the tourists. The festival is celebrated to commemorate Guru Padmasambhava's birth. Festivities at Hemis Gompa, Ladakh's most-visited monastery and an important Buddhist shrine, are held for two days each year in June/July (the fifth and tenth days respectively). During this annual event in Ladakh, the Hemis Monastery hosts performances of the Cham Dance and other folk dance performances to the sounds of drums, cymbals, and a long pipe-like Tibetan musical instrument. A public display of the massive thangkas is also done on both days. In reality, on the festival's first day in Hemis, the biggest thangka in Ladakh is displayed to the public every 12 years.
TIPS FOR VISITING
- To acclimate to the severe environment of Ladakh, you should get as much rest as possible on your first day there.
- Use a high-quality sunscreen before going outside to keep your skin safe from the sun's harmful rays,
- To enter the monastery, you'll need to purchase a ticket.
- Adhere to the monastery's dress code and adhere to the monastery's regulations.
- You can leave your cell phone and camera in the monastery museum's lockers while you explore the collection.
- Capture breath-taking panoramas on film from the Gompa. However, should acquire permission before photographing any monk in the monastery.
- Sign up for a postpaid number with BSNL, Jio, or Airtel, as other networks do not perform properly in Ladakh.
- If you're planning a trip to Leh, Ladakh during the high season, book your flights early to avoid price increases.
HOW TO REACH
- By Air – If you are planning to visit the destination by flight, then, the closest airport to Leh is Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, which is connected to several major Indian airports. To get to your hotel in Leh, you can take a taxi from the airport.
- By Road – You can either hail for a taxi or a bus to get to Ladakh, or you can drive your own car or bike to Hemis. To get to the monastery if you're coming from Srinagar, you can take the Leh-Srinagar highway.
- By Train – Jammu Tawi, the nearest railway station to Leh, is 812 kilometers away. To go to Leh from the train station, simply call a taxi. With overnight stays in both Srinagar and Kargil, the trek takes three days to complete. As previously said, after you arrive in Leh, you can take a taxi to the Hemis Monastery.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit the Hemis Monastery is between the months of May and October. You can also opt to visit the monastery during the Hemis festival that occurs in June and July. The roads between Srinagar and Manali to Ladakh are open during this time period thus this is the ideal time to go on a trip.
PLACES TO VISIT NEARBY
- Guru Lhakhang – Drukchen suggested that the Guru Lhakhang be built in 1985 and in lieu of a temple that had been demolished, this new structure was created, with the ceiling partially collapsed. The courtyard leading to the porch, where a stairwell leads to the Guru Lhakhang, provides entrance to the hall. In the Guru Lhakhang, Tsering Wangdus painted a massive statue of Guru Padmasambhava, and Nawang Tsering erected it.
- Sacred Hermitage – Gyalwa Kotsang built a sacred hermitage about three kilometres from the monastery grounds. The colourful Buddhist flags adorning the cave contrasted well with the rough rocks. On the rocks of the cave, you will discover the hand and footprints of Gyalwa Kotsang.
- Thiksey Monastery – The Thiksey monastery is situated at an altitude of 11,800 feet and houses various Buddhist artefacts, including thangkas, stupas, wall murals, sculptures, and swords. The Maitreya Temple is one of the monastery's most prominent attractions as a massive statue of Maitreya Buddha can be found inside of the temple, which spans two storeys and is 15 metres tall.
- Stakna Monastery – Founded in the late 16th century by a Bhutanese scholar and saint, Chosje Modzin, the Stakna Monastery is a Buddhist retreat on the banks of the Indus River. The monastery is so named as "Stakna" because it is perched on a hilltop location, which resembles the nose of a tiger.
- Shey Monastery and Palace – Built in the 16th century, the monastery enshrines the Du-Khang with an almost 10-meter-high copper statue of Lord Buddha. The palace was built by King Deledan Nagmyal and boasts of the largest victory stupa in Leh, the top of which is made of pure gold. The Shey Palace was the abode of the royal family till 1834 AD when they moved to the Stok Palace. The monastery is well-known not just for its stunning design, but also for the breathtaking views it affords from the vantage point from which it was erected.
HOTELS TO STAY
- Hotel Lotus – The Hotel Lotus is nestled under poplar trees and lush green lawns and has all the modern conveniences at a reasonable price. It's easy to get to Hotel Lotus from any part of Leh as it is conveniently located on Upper Karzo Road.
- Hotel Omasila – Located in a gorgeous area, Hotel Omasila, is only a 15-minute drive from Leh's airport and close to the market, offers stunning views of the Himalayas.
- Lha-Ri-Sa resort – Located in Ladakh, Lha-Ri-Sa Boutique Hotel offers a unique blend of comfort and eco-consciousness with modern conveniences. The resort is sure to leave you enchanted by the snow-capped Zanskar ranges while you relax in shady poplar trees.
- Welcome Heritage Shamba-La – The Welcome Heritage Shamba-La resort exudes peace and quiet. This resort, perched atop a ridge 11,000 feet above sea level in Leh's Indus River Valley, and offers sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
- The Tibetan Kitchen – If you are craving for deliciously authentic Tibetan food, then, The Tibetan Kitchen is definitely the place for you to be at. The eatery is an extremely cozy and charming place too.
- Bon Appétit – Serving the best food and view, Bon Appetit is a must visit place. The restaurant serves a fabulous spread of continental cuisines.
- Alchi Kitchen – Supporting women empowerment, Alchi Kitchen is managed by women and serve freshly prepared authentic Ladakhi cuisine. The restaurant is one of the go-to places to try the most amazing dishes.
- Sky Wok Restaurant – A multi cuisine restaurant & cafe in the heart ofLeh town with rooftop glass room & BBQ.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
Where Is Hemis Monastery Located?
Hemis Monastery is a Himalayan Buddhist monastery that is located in Ladakh, India.
What Are The Major Attractions In Hemis Monastery?
The oldest part of the monastery along with the museum and the Hemis Festival are the major attractions of Hemis Monastery.
What Festival Is Celebrated In The Hemis Monastery?
Hemis Festival is an annual event during which the traditional Cham Dance and unfurling of the largest thangka (every 12 years) in Ladakh can be seen in Hemis Gompa.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Hemis Monastery?
The best time to visit the Hemis Monastery is between the months of May and October.