Shey Monastery Ladakh

Shey Monastery Ladakh


Perched on a hillock, the Shey Monastery is reckoned as one of the popular monasteries in Leh Ladakh. Also known as Shey Palace or Shey Gompa, the monastery is famous for housing a 3-storeyed huge copper with gilded gold idol of seated Shakyamuni Buddha. The statue is counted as the second largest idol in Ladakh.

Shey Gompa enjoys a perfect geographical location and offers breathtaking views of the nearby surroundings of Matho, Thiksey, Stok, Stakna and Leh as well. Almost in its ruins now, the palace is also home to several butter-lit lamps with an eternal flame which burns continuously for the entire year. They are replaced annually to continue the flame without any hindrance. This is done in order to signify the purity and divinity of the sanctum sanctorum. 4-km of trekking, makes the way to this must-visit destination an intriguing one. Special permit is required to visit the Shey Monastery Ladakh as only one Lama dwells here and the inner shrine remains closed usually.

History and Legends of Shey Monastery

Shey Monastery dates back to the year 1655. The palace was built by Deldan Nangyal, the king of Ladakh in memory of his late father Singay Namgyal. The gompa served as a summer retreat to the kings of Ladakh.

What to see in Shey Monastery

  • The giant statue of seated Shakyamuni Buddha is the important highlight of the Shey Monastery.
  • The 16 Arhats (8 on each side) displayed on the walls on both the sides of Buddha.
  • The wall in the backdrop is adorned with images of Buddha with two of his chief disciples.
  • There is a library on lower floor which consists of meticulously preserved manuscripts and murals of Buddha with various hand postures.
  • Innumerable murals are exhibited on the upper floor of the monastery.

How to reach Shey Monastery?

Shey monastery is one of the best places to visit in Ladakh and almost all the travelers love visiting this beautiful monument. To reach here, one has to travel towards Karu. Approximately 15 km from Leh City, one can spot the Shey Palace. If not traveling in any personal conveyance, one can either take a shared taxi or hire one or even rent a motorcycle from Leh city itself.

Where to stay Near Shey Monastery?

With the increase in popularity of the Ladakh circuit amongst enthusiastic travelers, the development of basic facilities and amenities in the entire UT has been in top gear. If you wish to stay near Shey Monastery over time there have been a lot of new developments that have come up. Here are few places to stay near Shey Monastery.

  • Chakshi guest house- 2.1 km from the monastery (approximately) 
  • Bikamp at Leh- 2.7 km from the monastery (approximately)
  • Chamba Camp Thiksey- 2.8 km from the monastery (approximately)
  • Indus River Camp- 5.5 km from the monastery (approximately)
  • Stok Palace Heritage- 10 km from the monastery (approximately)

There are a few more guest houses, campsites, and hotels where you can check for a room.

Tourist Attractions of Shey Monastery

Just like any other destination in Ladakh, Shey has a lot of attractions to visit. Shey Palace & Shey Monastery are two of the best attractions in Shey. Here are the other attractions that can be visited on your trip to this beautiful place.

  • The wall painting that’s located on the upper floor of the monastery
  • A well-kept museum on the lower floor of the monastery
  • The beautiful shrine of Sengge Namgyal 

Best time to visit Shey Monastery

The weather remains pleasant between July and September. Thus, this is the best time to visit Shey Monastery. One can also plan to visit here during the two major festivals that are celebrated here. So depending upon your interest you plan your visit to this monastery but rest assured that visiting here won’t be a mistake.

Timings and Fee

This beautiful Palace and Monastery are open 7-days a week between 6:00 am and 1:00 pm and 1:30 to 6:00 pm. Plan your trip to Shey Monastery accordingly. Also, the entry fee of the monastery is 30/- INR only/ person.

Monastery Rules & Regulations

Unlike the other places in Ladakh, where you have the liberty to click pictures, scream your heart out due to astonishing heights, capture videos, and whatnot. Things are not liberal in this monastery. There are a few sets of rules that every visitor has to abide by during their visit. Here are some of the monastery rules that you should keep in mind while visiting here:

  • Travelers are not allowed to click pictures in the vicinity of the monastery
  • One is not allowed to make videos in the monastery
  • You have to keep your cool and talk in a low pitch because there are monks who meditate in the monastery.
  • You are not allowed to touch anything in the museum of the monastery.
  • Do not touch the wall painting on the upper floor of the monastery.
  • Do not step over or touch the statues and shrines in the vicinity.

Major Events and Festivals Celebrated in Shey Monastery

Shey Loo Doo

Celebrated on the 26th and 27th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, Shey Loo Doo marks the beginning of the sowing season. Special rituals and many other religious rites are performed by the lamas during the two days festival. The center of attraction is an oracle reader who visits on a horse back to conduct three days prayers. Thereafter, he goes into trance.

Shey Rupla

Harvesting season is marked by the Shey Rupla festival. Two men in tiger costumes perform the Rupla Dance. First fruits of the corn are offered by the farmers at the gompa. Women without children usually visit the gompa during this festival to seek the blessings of Buddha and have one.

Nearby attractions

  • A road from Leh to Thiksey Monastery leads to Shey and is adorned with numerous stupas, gompas and rock carvings.
  • Another popular attraction is a small shrine nearby which is popular for being the abode of statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in sitting posture.
  • In close proximity to the small shrine, two tantric shrines are also present. Adjacent to these shrines, there are rock carvings are of the five Dhyani Buddhas.

Mobile Network Connectivity

Mobile connectivity is very low in this area and it seems that is the best way to keep it. Only Airtel and BSNL postpaid numbers will get feeble networks.  

What Are the Important Travel Tips to Know Before Going to Shey Monastery?

  • You can put this monastery on your itinerary while either visiting Tso Moriri or going towards Pangong Lake.
  • The place can also be visited while coming back from other destinations of Ladakh and if you are before 6:00 pm just take a stroll in the monastery and then stay overnight in any of the places near Shey.
  • You have to take special permission to visit here.  

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