Hemis Monastery in Ladakh
Beautifully adorned, Hemis Monastery is a Tibetan monastery belonging to the Drukpa Lineage. Counted as one of the iconic monasteries in Ladakh, Hemis is perched on a mountain along the west bank of the Indus River. People eagerly await to marvel at the numerous paintings or Thangkas that are carefully preserved here and are displayed on the famous Hemis Festival. A visit to the Hemis Monastery is one of the highlights of planning holidays in Ladakh.
The daunting and thrilling land of Ladakh is so much more than the high passes and natural beauty. Although these are the best things of Ladakh and probably the major reasons why the majority of people follow the trail to the wonderful land. The mystical land of Ladakh houses a lot of breathing monuments majorly Gompa or monasteries. These ancient monasteries and monuments speak of the Ladakhi culture and their festivals. One such place is the infamous Hemis Monastery in Leh.
The ancient Hemis monastery is said to have existed before the 11th century. Naropa, the teacher of the translator Marpa and the pupil of the yogi Tilopa, is regarded as the founding fathers of the Kagyu-lineage of Buddhism, with Hemis as its main seat. The first incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso founded the monastery in 1630 when he was invited to Ladakh by King Singay Namgyal.
What to see in Hemis
- A copper gilded statue of Lord Buddha is nestled within the monastery. Many other stupas that are said to be made of precious metals like gold and silver can also be seen here.
- A large statue of Guru Rimpoche is also quite interesting to witness.
- The monastery also has a museum within its premises. Numerous historical and religious paintings (Thangkas), carriers, weapons are displayed in the museum.
Hemis Monastery becomes alive during the annual Hemis Festival which is celebrated here in early June to honor Guru Padmasambhava. His birth anniversary falls on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year of the Tibetan calendar. An interesting fact about the day is that it comes once after 12 years. Thus, Hemis celebrates the day with great fervor and enthusiasm.
As per beliefs, celebrating this festival bestows good health and spiritual strength. Many musicians play traditional music. The gala begins with an early morning ritual when the tapestry adorned with pearls depicting the image of Guru Padmasambhava is exhibited. This is then admired and worshipped by all. A major highlight of the festival is the Masked Dance which is collectively known as Cham. These performances are part of Tantric tradition and monks could be seen performing Tantric worship.
Nearby attractions monastery
A sacred hermitage is located some 3 km away from the monastery. The hermitage is founded by the great Gyalwa Kotsang whose footprints and handprints can be found on the rock within the hermitage. Another nearby attraction to the monastery is Hemis National Park where snow leopards and rare animals dwell in their natural habitat.
Best time to visit Hemis Monastery
The best time to visit Hemis Monastery is during the Hemis Festival which takes place in June. Also, it's quite enjoyable to visit from May till September. During these months, Ladakh experiences the summer season. During this time, the roads from both Manali and Srinagar are open and this makes traveling to Leh Ladakh on a bike trip comfortable and easier.
But then if you wish to travel to Hemis Monastery in winters, you will have to take a flight to Leh and the roads from there are always open. So plan your trip accordingly.
How to reach Hemis
On their trip to Leh Ladakh, the majority of people prefer visiting the Hemis Monastery during their trip to Pangong Tso from Leh city. Although the distance between Leh and Hemis is just about 40 km, people still prefer visiting here during their Pangong trip.
Hemis Monastery is 40 km South-East of the city of Leh and a wonderful destination for travelers. It’s the perfect melange of serenity and beauty that makes this place even better. Visiting here is easy because people can take their bikes and cars here. There are several taxis and shared cabs that do visit here. So try your luck and get the deal.
Where to stay
Owing to the fact that Hemis monastery is extensively visited by a lot of people each year, the locals have worked wonders in the past few years to develop hotels and eateries throughout the place. From homestays to decent hotels there is every option you would want. Currently, if a person visits here, there are a lot of staying options available around the monastery. But the best places to stay near Hemis Monastery include:
- Ladakh Sarai Resort
- The Grand Dragon Ladakh
- WelcomHeritage Lha-Ri-Sa Resort
- The Verda Driftwood Ladakh
- The Abduz
- Yarab Tso
- The Silk Route Ladakh
- The Zen Ladakh
- Hotel Royal Palace
- The Nature Residency Hotel
This is a list of staying options near Hemis Monastery that includes a wide range of options from budget-friendly to luxury hotels. Irrespective of the choice you make, all these places are comfortable and they perfectly blend in with the surroundings.
Other Important Tips
- Hemis Monastery is accessible throughout the year. It is just about 40 km from Leh city.
- If you plan to visit the monastery, you can stay at the destination for a night.
- Those visiting Leh during summers can go ahead on a trip to this Gompa without any problem. You don’t have to worry about any inner line permission or permit for this.
- Keep a map with yourself while heading out to the Hemis Monastery.
- Depending on the season you are visiting here, keep a sufficient layer of warm clothes on your body. Even if you are visiting here in the summer, layers of warm clothes are still recommended. The temperature and climate fluctuation of the place is too sudden so do keep in mind all the possibilities.
- Make sure to carry enough food/snacks and water. Keeping yourself hydrated in Ladakh is of utmost importance.
- Do keep in mind that photography and videography are not allowed in the museum as well as the prayer hall. So abide by this rule at all costs.
- Before commencing your journey, it is advised and recommended to connect with your doctor and explain the entire journey. The entire circuit is very complex, draining, exhaustive, and demanding of energy. And the climate here is also very unpredictable. So keep all the required medicines prescribed by the doctor.
- Keep all the basic tools in your tool kit. You never know when you might want any of it.
- Take all the AMS-related precautions and medicines so that you are able to enjoy your entire trip to the fullest.
- Acclimatizing is important and even seasoned travelers have to abide by this. So, ensure that you also acclimatize properly.
Ladakh is one of the dream destinations of many people. It is a wonderful place that serves several travelers from around the world. With so many natural attractions like valleys, lakes, flora, fauna, and much more. There are several monuments as well. These monuments are from the historic era of Ladakh, depicting its past. Majorly the newly made union territory is dotted with several monasteries throughout.
Hemis Monastery is one of the finest attractions of Ladakh. People love to visit here and spend some time gazing at the monument and its architecture. So, make sure to keep in mind everything that’s been talked about in the above section to plan a good trip.
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