Lamayuru Monastery Ladakh

Biking in Ladakh

This is the oldest of the major Gompas situated on or near the Indus and is believed to have been the sacred site for the pre-Buddhist religion known as Bon. Built in the 10th century, the monastery is spectacularly located on an eroded mass of rock below towering mountains, on the Srinagar-Kargil road, 15 kms east of Fatu La Pass, and 127 west of Leh. It is inhabited by about 200 permanent resident monks and has even housed up to 400 monks.

The monastery is related to Red-Hat Sect of Buddhism. It speaks volume about its rich wall paintings, assortment of thangkas, scriptures, murals and statues of various forms of Buddha and other deities.

It houses the following divisions:

  • Dukhang, the assembly hall
  • Gonkhang, the temple
  • Residential buildings for monks

The monastery has some legends associated with it. Legends say that it was founded by in 11th century by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa who visited the spot for meditation. Another historical account says that the buildings of Lamayuru was built by the king of Ladakh during 10th century. Later the king bestowed the buildings to Rinchen Zangbo.

Originally founded as a Kadam-pa establishment, it was subsequently offered to the Dri-gung-pa monastic order by Jamyang Namgyal, the Ladakhi king in the mid-16th century. It is now the principal monastery of the Dri-gung-pa order.

This original gompa destroyed and restored several times, however, several collections of tangkhas, carpets, statues and frescoes have escaped plunder and remain in the gompa for viewing.

Yuru Kabgyat is the annual festival, which is the highlight of the monastery. Mask dance by the lamas beckons many tourists to visit the monastery during the festival time. The burning of effigies is an important ritual, followed during the festival which marks the destruction of the ego in people.

Lamayuru is host to two annual mask dance festivals, in the 2nd and 5th months of the Tibetan lunar calendar.

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