Famous for its annual festival celebrating the birth of Padmasambhava (8th-century Buddhist master who built the first monastery in Tibet), splendid architecture, and rich collections, Hemis Gompa is the biggest Tibetan monastery in Ladakh. We arrived at the wrong time as the monastery was almost closed for lunchtime. We had no choice but to skip the museum, and had a quick peek of the golden statues in the two main halls before wandering around the complex’s exterior and rooftop areas. As the most well known monastery in the region, Hemis certainly was the most popular destination in Ladakh in terms of number of tourists. Other than tourists, there were also local pilgrims who came for worship. There was an old couple with their children walked around the gompa, lay prostrate on the ground and prayed in front of different prayer halls. We found our way up to the rooftop of Hemis. On the roof, we followed a black dog wandering around from one flat roof to another. It was a pity that most rooms were locked while we wandered around the building. Situated in a rocky valley, the rooftop of Hemis offered good views of the surrounding rocky mountains. After a leisure stroll around the compound, we returned to the main courtyard where tourists were waiting for the museum and prayer halls to reopen their doors after lunch break. We, however, decided to move on to our next destination of the day.
All visitors including us arrived at a short staircase in front of Hemis.
The worshiping couple and their children at the main courtyard of Hemis.
The old couple took their time to pay respect at various locations at Hemis despite most doors were locked for lunchtime.
The rooftop of Hemis contained a series of walkways and sunken courts.
Similar to other Tibetan Buddhist buildings, high windows above the main prayer hall provide a source of natural light shining into the hall interior below.
Flags were flying high by the time we reached the top.
Birdeye view of the main courtyard from the rooftop.
Stupa and rock mountains across the valley from Hemis.
The female worshiper appeared on the roof paying respect to some of the residing monks.
We followed this dog while touring the rooftop of Hemis Gompa.
Tourists were hanging out at the main courtyard of Hemis, waiting for the doors to reopen.
After Hemis, our next stop was Stakna Gompa, another monastery of the Drukpa Buddhist sect. Atop a mount overlooking Indus River, Stakna is another Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Ladakh famous for its views. Around 30 monks reside at the gompa, but we hardly saw anyone there except a lama who unlocked some of the doors for us. Many murals and architectural decorations at Stakna were covered in a layer of fresh paint. The paint colours were vivid and glossy and we could hardly see the original religious art work, except at some of the back halls behind altars where old manuscripts, murals and timber statues could be found. After getting up at 6 and visiting four monasteries, we were already a little tired by the time we reached Stakna. Still we enjoyed our brief time at this small monastery, especially the open mountain views from its terraces.
Approaching Stakna Gompa from the parking lot.
Walls and timber structures were coloured with a coat of fresh paint at Stakna.
The fresh paint touch ups found its way onto the walls of the main prayer hall.
Old golden statues at a back room of the main prayer hall.
One of the back rooms of the main prayer hall was swamped with natural light from a timber window.
Older murals appear at some of the back rooms.
Looking from Indus River, Stakna Gompa looked handsome standing proudly atop a rocky mount.
Prayer flags flew high at a terrace of Stakna with Indus River as backdrop.
Stupa and layers of arid mountains as seen from a terrace at Stakna Gompa.
* * *
Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi