Ladakh is one of India’s hottest mountain holiday destinations of India and hence I am pretty sure that it is on the travel bucket list of most of you all. Its snow capped peaks, its rarefied and pristine atmosphere, its rich Tibetan Buddhism connection and its raw and gorgeous nature attract all kinds of visitors from around the world.
Typically, it is places such as Leh, Khardung La, Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, Rancho’s school, Thiksey monastery and Magnetic hill that attract the visitors in hordes. But, if you look a little bit beyond that, you will discover treasures that will blow your mind. Take the winter trek on the Zanskar river or a sojourn with the stars at Hanle as examples. They are off the track, but they give you that once a lifetime experience.
While both the above examples require you to be more adventurous, you can visit similar exotic places, but less adventurous and thus more amicable to the regular traveling crowd. A prime example of that would be Chemrey monastery that I visited during my recent summer festival trip to Ladakh. The surprising thing is that I had crossed this 400 year old monastery like over a 100 times, but never felt compelled to visit it. This time around, I made an exception and I was really happy that I did so.
Founded in 1664 as a memorial to King Sengge Namgyal, the Chemrey monastery is located on a hill that overlooks the dusty route from Kharu to Chang la pass. With an aura similar to the high altitude monasteries of Spiti valley, Chemrey commands a stunning view of the valley below that is blessed with fertile agricultural land and where one can see bright yellow mustard fields every summer.
Run by a small group of Drukpa monks and their students, this monastery is home to some ancient Tibetan texts, a giant brass statue of Padmasambhava, a revamped Guru Lakhang and a brand new library full of important religious texts and scripts. The fading murals of Sakyamuni, Kalchakra, Akshobhya and the thousand Buddha are also one of its key highlights.
Summer months also see the popular Chemrey Angchok festival that is definitely worth experiencing. The main reason to visit this monastery would be for its peaceful atmosphere and the fact that you might be like the only visitor. Unlike other monasteries of Ladakh that have gotten super busy and crowded during the summer months, Chemrey stands as an exception.
May be, it is its remoteness or its slightly far away location that keeps visitors away. Whatever the reason, it is for those who wish to fall in peaceful love with the mountains and experience the beautiful life of the monks.
If you are adventurous, you can opt to stay in the monastery or even better volunteer here. Facilities will be basic, but the experience would be rich. In any way, do ensure that this place is on your itinerary for your next Ladakh holiday!
How to Reach Here
Chemrey Monastery is located about 40 kms from Leh on the Kharu Chang-la highway that eventually connects to Tangtze, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri and Hanle. The best way to get here is to have your own transport. If you opt for the local bus, do be prepared for some uphill walking.
Go Here For
Picturesque location, remoteness and tranquility.