All About Likir Gompa
Likir Monastery is the oldest in Leh Ladakh and that’s something one can witness by simply having a look at it. This monastery is one of the ancient gems of Buddhists and is believed to hold a lot of significance and importance amongst the locals. The monastery is believed to belong to the Gelugpa Sect that were the preachers of Tibetan Buddhism.
Its existence dates back to 1065 AD and to make this place more important, Ngari Rinpoche chose the place to be his seat. He is the younger brother of the Dalai Lama. If you understand the meaning of Likir; it says “The Naga-Encircled” and nagas mean serpents. It is believed that the two most powerful serpents have guarded and have been guarding the monastery. Their names- Taksako and Nanda. Its the ancient history and the present of this monastery that speaks for its importance.
History of Likir Monastery
The root of the establishment of Likir Monastery dates back to 1065 AD. The monastery has been a hubspot and important monument ever since. The monument was built by Lama Duwang Chosje and it is was erected during the reign of the fifth Ladakhi king named Lhachen Gyalpo.
The Architecture of Likir Monastery
The Likir Gompa is perched on a hilltop in the Likir Village. Although the monastery is the oldest it is very well maintained from the outside as well as the inside. This is a white-colored building having a red rood and a huge statue made of gold. The visitors can witness the Buddist culture and principles with all the wall paintings and crafts that are showcased in the vicinity.
The Dukhang is the main assembly area which is located towards the right of the central courtyard. On the entrance, you will see the painting of the guardians of the four sides. They are painted in their guiding direction. While entering you will also observe the wheel of life mandala’s painting that’s held by Lord Yama. Additionally, there is a school inside the ancient monastery that’s run by the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies. There is also a library, which is open to visitors and it holds volumes as well as books related to Buddhism. You will also find multiple old manuscripts related to the religion. There are many books that have the teachings of Tsong Khapa inside the library.
Highlights of Likir Monastery
- It gives a good understanding of the Gelugpa sect that preaches Tibetan Buddhism.
- The major attraction of the monastery is its 75 ft. tall Maitreya Buddha statue that is gilded in gold.
- The monastery houses multiple murals, paintings related to divine powers, thangkas on the monastery walls, and much more.
- There is an annual festival celebrated in the monastery which is enticing and enjoyable.
- There is a school inside the monastery that’s run by the Central Institute of Buddhist studies.
- You can see a glass wall in the 200-year-old Dukhang that depicts the ways Lamas wear their robes.
- The monastery also has a temple in the vicinity named Gonkhang that has images of Tsongkhapa and Sakyamuni.
- The cham dance is performed at the annual Likir festival and then there is an exhibition that’s held in the monastery.
Location of Likir Monastery
Likir Monastery is approximately 52 km from Leh city in the Saspol village which is towards its west side. If you are planning on traveling to Ladakh by road and from the Srinagar-Leh highway, it will be just 6 km off the highway towards the village. So, you can visit during that time too.
The monastery is located at an elevation of 3700 m which is astonishing and it offers an amazing view of the surrounding.
Entry Fee of Likir Monastery
The entry fee of 30 INR for Likir Monastery remains the same for every visitor. Indians and international visitors have to pay the same amount.
Timings of Likir Monastery
Like any other monastery or worshiping place, Likir also has a time for the visitors. One can visit the monastery either between 6:00 am and 1:00 pm or between 1:30 pm and 6:00 pm. There is a lax period of 30 minutes when the travelers are not allowed inside.
How to reach Likir Monastery
- You can simply go to the monastery by taking a ride, cab, or taxi to the Likir Village.
- You also have the chance to take a bus if you plan your trip between 5:30 am to 3:30 pm. Regular bus services ply between Leh and Likir between this time.
Best time to visit Likir monastery
The best time to visit Likir Monastery is between June and September when the temperature is comfortable and enjoyable.
These months are also the peak season of Ladakh and it brings in a lot of people throughout the months.
The temperature in Likir Monastery
The average temperature at Likir Monastery in summer is 5° C to 24°C whereas in winters the temperature remains between -8° C and 10°C.
Make a note of the fact that the climate in Ladakh is highly unpredictable and it can change in a matter of minutes.
Places to stay around Likir Monastery
First, you can request the monks to give you shelter for a night, if that happens- nothing better. If not, you can simply head to the Likir Village and get a homestay at highly affordable prices.
Shopping places around Likir Monastery
Likir is popular for handicraft items and woolen products so if you are visiting here you can buy apricot, Pashmina Shawls, and other woolen clothing items. High-quality products are available here at affordable prices.
Places to eat around Likir Monastery
The only places where you can get to eat are at the homestays where you will be staying for the day. Apart from that, you will get no place to eat.
Rules to follow while entering the monastery
- All the tourists have to take off their shoes before they enter the main prayer hall or area.
- It is strictly advised to keep your voice low and not to disturb the monks doing their prayer.
- If you want to take pictures or record videos, make sure you take permission from the monks.
- Do not try to steal a click as this would be highly disrespectful of you.
- Refrain from touching the religious items and artifacts of the monastery.
- It is prohibited to visit the monastery or enter the premises if the person is under the effect of alcohol or other intoxicating items.
- There are chances that women won’t be allowed in the prayer rooms.
When you plan to visit Likir Monastery there are a lot of things you will have to keep in mind. It is better not to rush and find a place to stay around the monastery itself. Also, if you reach here later in the evening, it is better to take shelter in the village by requesting the villagers for help. Make sure you are well-prepared. Also on a general note, do keep a bottle and some quick bite snacks in your backpack to savor during the day. Keeping yourself charged and hydrated is of utmost importance. This will help in elevating your overall travel experience to Likir Monastery.