Sunday, October 07, 2012

Alchi Monastery: One of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh

Generally, we see Buddhist monasteries located on top of hills and it is quite a climb to reach most of them. But, have you been to a Himalayan Buddhist monastery that is located at a low level such that you have to descend to it?

The Indus river flows behind the Alchi Monastery
Well, such a monastery is the Alchi monastery, which is situated by the banks of the Indus river on the way from Leh to Kargil at about 70 kms from Leh and usually takes about 90 minutes to reach from Leh. It is mainly known for its magnificent and well preserved 11th or 12th century wall paintings, all in Indo-Himalayan style.

Alchi Monastery - one of the older monasteries of Ladakh
This Alchi Gompa is known more as a monastic complex of temples that consists of three shrines: the Dukhang (Assembly hall), the Sumtseg and the temple of Manjushri. Chortens are also a part of the complex. The artistic and spiritual details of both Buddhism and the Hindu kings of that time in Kashmir are reflected in the wall paintings in the monastery complex.

Alchi Monastery Situated at an altitude of 10,200 feet, the popular time to visit the Alchi monastery is during the summer months of June to September, but if you wish for a calm and serene experience, then the winter months of December to February are ideal. But, in winter, be prepared to bear the bitter cold winds coming from the Indus valley which feels colder as Alchi lies in shadow for most of the winter months.

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