Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru Monastery

About Lamayuru Monastery

One of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh, Lamayuru Monastery is a must-visit place in Ladakh. It is famous as Tharpa Ling meaning the ‘place of freedom’. Located around 127 km from Leh on a steep mountain, Lamayuru Monastery is sandwiched between Bodhkarbu and Kha-la-che. It belongs to the Red hat sect of Buddhism and thus, many Buddhist followers can be seen visiting here all around the year.

At its peak, Lamayuru Monastery accommodated 400 days but currently, only 50 can stay. The other 150 monks live in the Lamayuru Village. Inside the monastery, you can see paintings, a great collection of thangkas, scriptures, murals, and statues of various forms of Buddha and his deities. Also, there are many legends associated with this monastery, which we will get into in a second.

Popular Legend of Lamayuru Monastery

As per a famous legend, this monastery was discovered by Mahasiddha Acharya Naropa back in the 11th century. He came here for meditation purposes. Note that the foundation of Lamayuru Monastery was already predicted in the Bodhisattva Madhyantaka. It said that there would be a lake that will dry and a monastery will be built in its place. So, when the lake dries up, Naropa found a dead lion there and made the decision to build the first temple of Singh Ghang (Lion Mound) here. In total, he constructed five buildings out of which only one exists today.

History of Lamayuru Monastery

As per the historical records, it was the king of Ladakh who built the buildings here during the 10th century. He later donated these structures to Rinchen Zangbo. 

Another historical event says that the king of Ladakh in the 16th century, Jamyang Namgyal got leprosy, which a lama cured. So, to express his gratitude, the king offered him the monastery buildings and other privileges, which included the exemption from taxes. Not just this, the king also announced the region around the monastery as a sanctuary where no one would be arrested. Thus, the place got its name of ‘the place of freedom’. 

Inside the Lamayuru Monastery

The monastery houses a Dukhang, assembly hall, Gonkhang, temple, and residential building where monks stay. You can see the walls of this Dukhang painted with beautiful images of Buddhist deities and the Gonkhang dedicated to guardians of Buddhism.

At the front of the temple, there are three chortens and in the small temple, you will find images of Avalokitesvara (1000 arms and 11 heads), Padmasambhava, and statues of eight Bodhisattvas.

Beside the temple, there is a cave called Naropa’s cave where he was believed to meditate.

Fun Fact - The Fall is an adventure fantasy movie, which is shot at the moonscape at Lamayuru. It was directed by Tarsem Singh. Also, another feature-length movie called Wolf has scenes shot at Lamayuru Monastery.

Where to Stay

You can get basic accommodation at Lamayuru Monastery. Mid-range hotels are available near the monastery as well. Food is also available but is limited. You can try Tibetan authentic food here. Or go to small outlets in the village nearby to savor Indian as well as Tibetan food.

Best Time to Visit Lamayuru Monastery

May to September is the best time to visit Lamayuru Monastery. It is a perfect time as the weather is pleasant. After November, the trekking routes get closed and heavy snowfall covers every road.

Festivals Celebrated at Lamayuru Monastery

If you want to be a part of the Ladakh festival celebrations, visit Lamayuru Monastery at Yuru Kabgyat. It is a festival celebrated at this monastery and includes colorful performances, traditional attire, and local food. You will find Buddhist monks from all across the world like China, Korea, Bhutan, and Japan who visit India to attend this festival.

There are musical performances, masked dances, and dramas, which depict the Buddha’s life and other cultural stories. There is also a showcase of local instruments like pipes, drums, and horns that artists play to accompany the dance.

How to reach Lamayuru Monastery

You can either take state-run buses from Srinagar to Leh, which passes by Lamayuru Monastery near the Fotu La base. Else, hire a taxi or a private car from Leh to reach Lamayuru Monastery, which is approx. 2-hour ride.

Things to Remember Before Visiting Lamayuru Monastery

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