Location: 130-km West Of Leh,
Ladakh Region, J&KLamayuru Picture
Main Attraction: Lamayuru Gompa & Trekking
First Monastery Dates Back To: 10th Century
The First Monastery Of Lamayuru
The first Lamayuru monastery was built
under Rinchen Zangbo at the end of the 10th century, under
orders from the king of Ladakh , who altogether had 108 Gompas
built in west Tibet. It was built on the broken mountain in the
valley and consisted of five buildings, of which only the
central building stands today. One can still see some remains of
the four corner buildings to the west.
The Gompa has an impressive 11-headed, 1,000-eyed image of
Chenrezig. In its heyday up to 400 monks lived in the monastery
but today there are only 20 to 30 who belong to the yellow hat
sect. Many Lamas from Lamayuru now go out to other parts of
Ladakh as teachers.
A Place For All
In the 16th century the monastery was declared a holy site in
which even criminals could seek sanctuary. For that reason even
today it is known to Ladakhis as 'Tharpa Ling', 'Place of
Considered A Prime Attraction Since Primitive Times
A major landmark on the old silk route, the Gompa numbers among
the 108 (a spiritually significant number, probably legendary)
founded by the Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th and 11th centuries.
However, its craggy seat, believed to have sheltered Milarepa
during his religious odyssey across the Himalayas, was probably
sacred long before the advent of Buddhism, when local people
followed the Shamanical 'Bon' cult.
Passage To Zanskar
The main reason visitors make the short detour from the nearby
Srinagar -Leh road is to photograph the Gompa from the valley
floor, or to pick up the trail to the Prikiti-la pass - gateway
to Zanskar, which begins here.
The footpath from the highway brings one near the main entrance
to the monastery, where one should be able to find the Lama
responsible for issuing entrance tickets and unlocking the door
to the Du-khang. Lamayuru's newly renovated prayer hall houses
little of note other than a cave where Naropa, Milarepa's
teacher, is said to have meditated, and a rancid collection of
Yak-butter sculptures. If one is lucky, one will be shown
through the tangle of narrow lanes below the Gompa to a tiny
chapel, whose badly damaged murals of Mandalas and the Tathagata
Buddhas are contemporary with those at Alchi.
HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Lamayuru lies too far from either Leh or Kargil, 107-km
west, to be visited in a day trip, so one either has to call in
en route between the two, or else spend the night at the
monastery itself. The regular bus service to Leh departs at
10.00 am and the one to Kargil at noon.