Sankar Gompa, or monastery, is yet another beautiful monastery in Ladakh located at a distance of around 3km from the main town of Leh. You should visit this monastery during your tour to Ladakh, not just for its incredible architecture but also because it’s a treasure-trove of history and art. Sankar Monastery is believed to be a subsidiary of Spituk Monastery, with the same Lama presiding over it.
Sankar Monastery belongs to the Gelukpa sect of Buddhism while the head sect of Ladakh Kushok Bakul is the official resident of this Gompa. There are about 25 lamas of the Gelukpa sect attached to the Gompa, out of which, only a few are permanent residents. It’s believed that Sankar Monastery was built almost 90 years ago but stands on the site of a small temple built around 500 years ago.
What to see
The Sankar Monastery is home to various attractions that shed light on its history and heritage. The front balcony of the monastery is marked with 108 volumes of Buddha’s teachings along with three images of the Buddha – the Sakyamuni, the present and future Buddha. Upon entering the stone walls you will come across some incredible paintings of unknown gods which have been described as “guardians of four quarters of heaven”.
Inside the monastery, there is a vast hall with high ceilings known as Du Khang, while on the opposite side of the entrance is an imperial throne belonging to the chief Lama. One of the sights which will catch your attention here is the amazing sculpture made of barley and butter. Another sight which will leave you enchanted is the statue of Avalokitesvara with its 11 heads and 1,000 arms. One common theme found in all the idols, murals and sculptures is “protection”, which is also the main theme of the monastery. Inside the monastery, there is a doorway which leads to a chapel where you come across the image of Tsong-Kha-Pa, the founder of Gelukpa sect.
There is also a small outdoor area consisting of a Tibetan calendar along with other beautiful murals which depict the lifestyle of the lamas. A particular fascination in the outdoor area is the blue peacock mammoth statue which has 1,000 heads and 1,000 arms. The library offers incredible views of the Namgyal Tsemo Hill.
Best time to visit
March to October is the best time for visiting the Sankar Gompa. After the month of November though, all roads connecting Ladakh become inaccessible and close down due to heavy rainfall. From March to October, you will enjoy the climate of Ladakh and be able to explore its attractions without any hassles.
Timings of Sankar Monastery
Sankar Monastery is the residence of a few monks. As such, the visiting hours for the tourists is quite restricted. In the morning, you can visit the monastery from 7.00 AM to 10.00 AM and in the evening, from 5.00 PM to 7.00 PM.
You won’t face any problem as far as food is concerned. Various kinds of Tibetan food are available at the monastery including momo, lamb cooked in red sauce, dry fruits and biscuits.
There are several attractions which lie in close proximity to Sankar Gompa. You should check out these attractions after exploring the monastery. Let us look at the nearby attractions to Sankar Monastery.
Leh Palace, built in the 17th century, is one of the major attractions of Ladakh. A former royal palace of the Leh kingdom, it was one of the tallest buildings of its time with nine stories. The palace provides magnificent views of the Stok Kangri and Ladakh mountain ranges.
Namgyal Tsemo Monastery
Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, built in the 15th century by King Tashi Namgyal, is renowned for its three stories high solid gold idol of Maitreya Buddha. The monastery is a treasure-house of ancient manuscripts and wall paintings. The views of the surroundings are simply outstanding.