A Journey Through Ladakh: The 12 Must-Visit Monasteries

Feb 19, 2024 By Sean William

Are you longing for a spiritual journey accompanied by majestic views and tranquil temples? Embark on the ultimate adventure to the remote province of Ladakh, India. Tour its rugged terrain dotted with captivating monasteries perched along high craggy cliffs. As you hike through traditional Tibetan villages, discover each of the 12 must-visit monasteries in Ladakh. Each holds unique significance as representation of ancient Buddhist teachings and traditions that have endured for centuries. So come explore these remarkable sites tucked away from civilization - you won't be disappointed!

1. Spituk Gompa

The Spituk Gompa is a major landmark in Ladakh. About 8 kilometers from the city of Leh, this 11th century establishment serves as an important Buddhist learning center. Its distinct yellow and red tones make it immediately visible when passing by. Spend some time browsing its vast collection of ancient artifacts and religious scriptures to gain insight into Ladakh's fascinating history.

2. Stakna Gompa

The Stakna Gompa is located on the banks of the Indus River, about 25 kilometers east of Leh. Built in 1580, it is renowned for its breathtaking view of the surrounding mountain ranges. Its architecture impresses visitors with its bold combinations of orange and green hues, and its intricate murals portray the tale of Guru Padmasambhava.

3. Thiksey Gompa

The Thiksey Gompa is situated along a hilltop in the Indus Valley, about 19 kilometers east of Leh. This gompa was founded by a student of Tsongkhapa in 1415 and consists of 10 levels, each with its own unique temples. Visitors are captivated by its majestic view of the valley below as well as the beautiful, vibrant paintings inside the monastery walls.

4. Hemis Gompa

The Hemis Gompa is located in the picturesque mountain village of Hemis, about 45 kilometers south of Leh. It is the largest monastery in Ladakh and a highlight of any trip to the region. The annual Hemis festival attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, and features colorful masks dances that showcase Buddhist traditions.

5. Rizdong Gompa

The Rizdong Gompa lies nestled in the lush green hills of Rizdong valley, about 40 kilometers southwest of Leh. It was established in 1430 and is one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. Inside, visitors will find several ancient statues and wall paintings depicting deities such as Avalokiteshvara and Padmasambhava. Take some time to explore its many stupas and prayer flags for a truly spiritual experience.

6. Shey Gompa

The Shey Gompa is located in the village of Shey, about 15 kilometers southeast of Leh. It was founded by King Deldan Namgyal in 1655 as a memorial to his late father. This beautiful monastery features a massive copper-gilded statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha, and is surrounded by several other statues depicting Buddhist deities.

7. Alchi Gompa

The Alchi Gompa is situated in the village of Alchi, approximately 65 kilometers west of Leh. It is one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh and features some of the best preserved artwork from that period. Take some time to explore its intricate carvings, statues, and wall paintings for a truly special experience.

8. Stok Gompa

The Stok Gompa is situated at the foot of the Stok Kangri mountain, approximately 14 kilometers east of Leh. It was founded in 1820 by Lama Lhawang Lotus and is home to several important artifacts, including a statue of Guru Padmasambhava that dates back to the 15th century.

9. Takthok Monastery

The Takthok Monastery is located in the village of Takthok, approximately 50 kilometers east of Leh. It was originally constructed in 1579 and is notable for being the only Nyingma gompa in Ladakh. The monastery is home to several historical artifacts, including a large statue of Guru Padmasambhava that dates back to the 16th century.

10. Lamayuru Monastery

The Lamayuru Monastery is situated in the village of Lamayuru, approximately 125 kilometers west of Leh. It was founded in the 10th century and is home to some of Ladakh’s oldest Buddhist artifacts, including statues of Avalokiteshvara and Padmasambhava. The monastery also features several unique rock formations that are believed to have been formed by a powerful earthquake.

11. Diskit Monastery

The Diskit Monastery is located in the village of Diskit, approximately 150 kilometers east of Leh. It was founded in the 14th century and features a huge statue of Maitreya Buddha that is more than 33 meters tall. The monastery also boasts several colorful murals and a massive prayer wheel that is said to be filled with the ashes of holy lamas.

12. Karsha Monastery

The Karsha Monastery is situated in the village of Karsha, approximately 175 kilometers east of Leh. It was founded in the 11th century and features a large collection of ancient scriptures and artifacts related to Buddhism. The monastery also hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the annual Losar festival, which celebrates the Tibetan New Year.


Ladakh is home to many beautiful and historically significant monasteries, all of which offer unique and fascinating insights into the rich cultural heritage of Tibet. Whether you are looking for a spiritual retreat or an educational experience, these twelve must-visit monasteries in Ladakh are sure to provide a memorable journey. So be sure to include them in your itinerary when visiting this remote and magical region.

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