The monastery contains a number of shrines and some exquisite wall paintings by the Lama Dzadpa Dorje. The collection of this monastery also includes bone remains of Dorje Rinchen. It is home to around 100 monks. Every year, on the 28th and 29th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, Karsha monastery plays host to the Gustor festival.
Karsha monastery is located in the Padum Valley in the Zanskar region of the Jammu & Kashmir state in North India. In order to reach this place, one has to cross a bridge at Tungri, which is just 8 kilometers from Padum. This is the only way to reach Karsha Gompa.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit this place is from July to September as during winter snow covers all the roads and routes.
The foundation stone of this monastery was laid by Phagspa Shesrab, under the Gelugpa Order or Yellow Hat sect. In 1960's, the statue of Lhaso Cho Rinpoche was brought to this monastery from Lhasa. It featured a golden crown with carnelian and turquoise. The monks residing in the village of the Zanskar valley belong to the Aryan race and are connected to Kanishka dynasty. They are known for creating as many as 30 monasteries, chortens and temples in the Zanskar valley.
The largest and oldest monastery in Zanskar, Karsha Gompa is a massive complex built with white washed building blocks comprising of several chapels and residential cells for around 100 Lamas.
It is a large temple complex whose partially damaged walls are still decorated with original frescoes around 300 years old.
It is an old nunnery located atop of a hill to the west of the main monastery.
It is an ancient temple which houses a beautiful statue of Avalokitesvara and smoke covered wall frescoes.
Fairs and Festival
Famously known as Karsha-Spituk Gustor, the Gustor festival is celebrated in the 6th month of the Tibetan Lunar Calender. It is celebrated for 2 consecutive days to mark the victory of good over evil. The highlight of this festival is mask dances performed by the local lamas representing guardians, angels, demons and protector gods and goddesses. It culminates with the burning of the effigy representing the victory of good over evil.
Where to Stay
Accommodation can be arranged at the Karsha monastery at a nominal fee. If you are looking out for 3 star hotels, one can stay in Padum. There is also a tourist bungalow owned by Jammu & Kashmir tourism corporation.
How to Reach
In order to reach Karsha Gompa, one has to travel a 9 kilometer long road, across an iron bridge built over the Stod river. It can also be accessed through the Tungri bridgehead alongside a 17 kilometer link road that separates from the Kargil-Padum road at Tungri.