Hemis Monastery is the largest monastery in Ladakh, and perhaps one of the most beautiful one. Located about 49 km south from the town of Leh on the Leh-Manali route, Hemis is one of the richest monastery of this region.
Hemis monastery follows the Drukpa lineage or the dragon Order of Mahayana Buddhism. GyaIwa Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje a main disciple of the 1st Gyalwang Drukpa, Tsangpa Gyare Yeshe Dorie (1161-1211), and one of the most celebrated yogis in the Himalayas, came to Ladakh in the 13th century and established the Drukpa Lineage hire. Gyalwa Gotsangpa meditated In a cave on the edge of the mountain above Hemis Monastery, where a meditation centre named after him was established. The monastery was founded by the 1st incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso in 1630. He was invited to Ladakh by the king Singay Namgyal. Hemis is also the place where young Lamas are trained.
The monastery and the place are quite striking. Like the other monasteries the building is a colurful one with a big courtyard in the middle. There are long poles in the courtyard where prayer flags were fluttering. It is in this courtyard, the famous annual Hemis Festival is held. The festival is a mark of respect towards Guru Padmasambhava, who is one of the most revered Guru of Buddhism. The Hemis festival is an extravagant festival where the monks perform dances wearing colourful masks. It is a spectacle in itself.
The monastery is beautiful, impressive with Tibetan architecture. It has two segments – Dukhang, the assembly hall and Tshogkhang, the Temple. The courtyard is decorated with ornate designs and the frescoes are magnificent. The intricate designs in each of them are simply mind blowing. The monastery also houses a superb collection of thankas (wall paintings). The frescoes mainly depict the life of Lord Buddha.
The view of the Himalayas from the top of the monastery is also spectacular. I will not say much about the place. Let the pictures do the talking!
If you are visiting Ladakh, we would recommend you to keep the monastery in you things to do list.
Place: Located about 49 Km from Leh near the village of Karu
Best Time to visit: Between June to September. Winters are really harsh in Ladakh. And if you want to see the grandeur of Hemis festival, June is the time.
The Hemis Monastery