Ladakh is a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist monasteries, but there’s one that stands out from the rest.
Alchi Monastery, nestled in the picturesque Alchi Village, is a unique blend of history, culture, and adventure. This monastic complex, consisting of three separate temples – Dukhang, Sumstek, and the Temple of Manjushri – is a must-visit for every traveler to Ladakh.
Built in the 10th century by the eminent Tibetan scholar Rinchen Zangpo, Alchi Monastery is the oldest and most famous of the complex. Unlike other monasteries in Ladakh, Alchi Monastery is situated on a flat ground, making it an ideal spot for adventure lovers. The nearby Zaskar River offers a thrilling rafting experience, and the lush trees and flowers along the route to the monastery make it a delightful journey.
Once you reach the monastery, you’ll be transported back in time to the 12th and 13th centuries. The architecture of the temple is a testament to traditional Buddhist design, and the interiors boast luxurious woodwork and clay images. The temple of Manjushri, also known as Jampe Khakang, is famous for its sculptures and paintings of Rinchen Zangpo, while the Sumstek temple is renowned for its four-armed Bodhisattva statue.
But, before you start clicking pictures, keep in mind that photography inside the monastery is strictly prohibited. You can take pictures from the outside with the requisite permission from the monks. Also, shoes are not allowed inside the building, so remember to leave them outside. And, as a sign of respect, maintain silence inside the temple to avoid disturbing others.
The best time to visit Alchi Monastery is during the Buddhist festivals like Chotrul Duchen, Galdan Namchot, Losar (The Tibetan New Year), Monlam, and Sho Dun.
These festivals take place between May and September when the weather is pleasant, and the celebrations include cultural shows, music, and dance.
However, the roads to Alchi Monastery are closed from November to April due to heavy snowfall.
So, pack your bags and head to Alchi Monastery for an unforgettable adventure in Ladakh. Timings are from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with a one-hour break from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM. The entry fee for Indian Nationals is INR 25. Don’t miss out on this hidden gem!