Thiksay Gompa, Thiksey Monastery or Thiksay monastery is a gompa of Tibetan Buddhism religion. It is located on the top of the hill. It is very famous for its similarity with Potala Palace of Lhasa. This monastery is famous for pilgrim activities, architectural elements, sightseeing and exploration. The monastery has an interesting anecdote of how it was built in this exact location. It is said that when two Buddhist monks offered prayers and rituals at the Yellow Temple and were about to through a cake (offering to God) into the valley, a crow took away the cake and place it on a hilltop. They assumed this a divine order and built a monastery here.
The Thiksey Monastery is located on top of hill of 3,600 m altitude in Thiksey village. This village is located on the Leh-Manali highway in Jammu and Kashmir. The village lies 18 km to the south of Leh. Leh has a domestic airport, which is the highest airport in the country. The frequency of flights to Leh from other parts of the country is very less. Tourists usually reach India via Delhi or Srinagar airport and choose any land transportation to reach Leh. You can either hire cab to reach Thikse monastery or choose bus. The bus to the monastery starts at 9 in the morning. The bus tour includes many attractions including the monastery and thus, the time limited for exploring the monastery will be less. If you are planning to enjoy the monastery completely, it is better to visit in a car.
The monastery is open to tourists from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening throughout the week. October and November is the best months to visit the monastery. After November, the place will be closed due to snowfall and it opens by May. After November, the routes to the monastery will be blocked by snow and it becomes dangerous to visit. If you visit during early morning, you can enjoy many unique rituals. Numerous people visit the monastery by 7 in the morning to take part in the morning prayers.
The entry cost is 20 INR for both locals and foreigners. There is no fee for camera. It would take around 2-3 hours to scale the whole place.
The monastery holds ten temples, home for monks, assembly hall, nunnery and others. The monastery has 12 levels. It is one of the largest structures in Ladakh. As you enter the monastery, you can find the statue of the protector deity in the entrance. From the monastery, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the flood plains of Indus valley.
This is one of the important attractions inside the monastery. It is a large statue, which is two storey tall. This is the largest statue in Ladakh.
The Assembly hall entrance has a wall that has murals of Tibetan calendar. The prayer room next to this wall has many books and manuscripts. Beyond the prayer room, there is a small sanctum. Apart from these, the assembly hall has many pictures, statues and murals.
This is a small temple dedicated to the Goddess. There are 21 images of the deity in this shrine. You can find many murals here.
This temple holds many scriptures including Stangyur and Kangyur. Women are not allowed inside this temple. There is a small school on top of the temple where young boys are taught to become Lamas. You can find a large pillar with Buddha’s teachings engraved on it. Beyond the temple, you can find numerous white huts, the residence of Lamas.
This is the school for nuns.
Festivals takes place either in November or in October. The festival spans for two days. During this festival, after the morning prayers, the celebrations begin. A sacrificial cake is distributed during this festival. Top attraction of this festival is the mask dance, which is performed by the monks. It is said that the masked dance wade off the evil. The Black Hat dance is performed to re-enact the assignation of Lang Dar Ma by a monk. The exact date of the festival changes every year with respect to the Tibetan calendar. During this festival, a fair takes place at the monastery’s base. This fair is the best place to buy souvenirs and socialize with people.
The monastery offers dinner at 6:30 pm. You can join the monks to enjoy the simple dinner. You have to pick a bowl and stand in a queue to receive thukpa, a noodle soup with many vegetables. You can also get butter tea here. If you are dining in the monastery, you are requested to clean your dishes.