Situated on low land which is about 70 km to the west of Leh, Alchi is a small village, located on the banks of the River Indus. The Alchi village is famous for the existence of one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh known as Alchi Monastery, which is Ladakh’s most valuable heritage.
In Alchi, you can visit the Sumtsek Temple, Vairocana Temple, Lo Tsawa Temple, Manjushree Temple, Kangyur Temple with Stupas, Monk Cells, etc where its beautiful wood carving arts, huge Tibetan Styled models of Buddha, Manjushree, historic wall paintings of Buddha’s teachings within a very calm, quiet, pristine ambiance has made Alchi more valuable.
Alchi is a perfect place to relax and experience the quintessential Buddhist monastery.
Here are the 3 Beautiful Places To Visit In Alchi:
1. Alchi Monastery
Located in the Alchi Village of Ladakh, Alchi Monastery is a complex of Buddist temples of which Alchi Monastery is the oldest and most famous.
It is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist centres in Ladakh and also as one of the monastic jewels of Ladakh that dates back to nearly one thousand years and so the effect of the Tibetan influence can be seen in the local culture.
Cemented on a flat ground unlike other monasteries in Ladakh, the traditional architecture of the monastery is a monastic complex that has 3 separate temples, known as Dukhang, Sumstek, and the Temple of Manjushri.
Dukhang, the assembly hall, is the largest and the oldest preserved part of the monastery. The walls of the assembly hall are full of ancient paintings that depict different forms of Buddha and goddesses.
Sumtsek, the three-story temple is popular for its four-armed big Bodhisattva statue which occupies two floors of the temple. On the ground floor, there is a Maitreya Buddha along with a figure of white Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri.
The Temple of Manjushri is also known as Jampe Lhakhang. Along with images of Manjushri, the temple has a sculpture and a painting of Rinchen Tsangpo.
Apart from the historical and cultural factors, Alchi Monastery is also a place for adventure lovers. Rafting is a popular choice among people who visit this monastery due to its location being close to the Zaskar River, which is an added advantage for the rafters.
2. Rizong Monastery
Situated on the hilltop of a rocky valley to the north of the river Indus and known to be a paradise for meditation, the Rizong Monastery overlooks the Indus Valley. It lies to the west of Alchi on the way to Lamayuru.
The monastery holds special significance for Tibetan Buddhists as it is believed Guru Padmasambhava had meditated in the caves around Rizong. It is said that lamas used to meditate in the caves around Rizong in isolation, depend on one meal a day, and avoid maintaining a relationship with the outside world. Lamas used to meditate for many years without in touch with other peoples. Local peoples were only the way from where they get one meal in a day through a square window that was opened in the cave.
This monastery is also known as the Yuma Changchubling in the Ladakh region. Established at Ri-dzong in 1831 by Lama Tsultim Nima under the Gelukpa order, today it has around 40 monks who have to abide by very strict rules and regulations. The monks residing in this monastery cannot own anything except books.
3. Gurudwara Pather Sahib
Situated 40 km from Leh, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib stands at the place where Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion and the first guru, is believed to have vanquished a demon.
Gurdwara Pathar Sahib is a shrine of immense religious significance for the followers of Sikhism. This gurdwara was built in 1517 to commemorate Guru Nanak’s visit to the valley of Ladakh.
It is said that while he was lost in meditation at this spot, a demon tried to fatally attack him by throwing a massive boulder from the hilltop. Instead of causing an injury, the boulder turned soft after touching his body, which surprised the demon. He pleaded with Guru Nanak for forgiveness and promised to spend the rest of his life as a gentle person.
In present times, the rock is covered with a sacred veil and enshrined inside the gurdwara. Devotees coming to this shrine are welcomed by a whiteboard, which has holy verses and the Mool Mantra from Guru Granth Sahib – the prime scripture of Sikhs. So, don’t miss a chance to visit this Gurudwara while you’re in Alchi.