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Alchi Gompa

Location: 70-km From Leh, Ladakh Region, J&K
Significance: The Du-Khang, The Sumtsek

Driving past  on the nearby Srinagar Leh highway you;d never  guess that the culuster of low pagoda roofed cubes 3 km across the Indus from Saspol, dwarfed by a spectacular sweep of wine coloured scree, is one of the most significant historical sites in Asia, Yet the Chos Khor or religious enclave at Alchi 70 km west of Leh harbours an extraordinary wealth of ancient wall paintings and wood sculputre miraculously preserved for over nine centures insides five tiny mud walled temples, The site's earliest murals are regarded as the finest surviving examples of a style that flourished in Kashmir during the "second Spreading" Barely a handful of the monasteries founded during this era escaped the Muslim depredations of the fourteenth century.

Alchi is the most impressive of them all the least remote and the only one you don't need  a special permit to visit nestled beside a bend in the milky blue Rive Indus amid some dramatic scenery

The Du-Khang
An inscription records that Alchi's oldest structure, the Du-Khang, was erected late in the 11th century. Its centrepiece is a image of Vairocana, the Buddha Resplendent flanked by the four main Buddha manifestations that appear all over Alchi's temple walls always presented in their associated colours.

Once one's eyes adjust to the gloom inside, check out the niche in the rear wall where Vairocana, the "Buddha Resplendent", is flanked by the four main Buddha manifestations that appear all over Alchi's temple walls, always presented in their associated colours: Akshobya ("Unshakable"; Blue), Ratnasambhava (""Jewel Born"; Yellow), Amitabha ("Boundless Radiance"; Red) and Amoghasiddhi ("Unfailing Success"; Green). The other walls are decorated with six elaborate Mandalas, interspersed with intricate friezes.

The Sumtsek
Standing to the left of the Du-khang, the Sumtsek is Alchi's most celebrated temple, and the highest achievement of early medieval Indian Buddhist art. Its woodcarvings and paintings, dominated by rich reds and blues, are almost as fresh and vibrant today as they were 900 years ago, when the squat triple storeyed structure was built. The resident lama leads visitors under a delicate wooden fašade to the interior of the shrine, shrouded in a womb like darkness broken only by flickering butter lamps. Scan the walls with a flashlight and you'll see why scholars have filled volumes on this chamber alone. Surrounded by a swirling mass of 'Mandalas', Buddhas, Demi Gods and sundry other celestials, a colossal statue of Maitreya, the Buddha-to-come, fills a niche on the ground floor, his head shielded from sight high in the second storey.

Accompanying him are two equally grand Bodhisattvas, their heads peering heads peering serenely down through gaps in the ceiling. Each of these stucco statues wears a figure clinging Dhoti, adorned with different, meticulously detailed motifs. Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion, has pilgrimage sites, court vignettes, palaces and pre-Muslim style Stupas on his robe, while that of Maitreya is decorated with episodes from the life of Gautama Buddha. The robe of Manjushri, destroyer of falsehood, to the right, shows the 84 masters of Tantra, the Mahasiddhas, adopting complex yogic poses in a maze of bold square patterns.

Beautiful Frescoes Of Deities
Among exquisite murals, some repaired in the 16th century, is the famous six-armed green Goddess Prajnaparamita, the "Perfection of Wisdom" central to Mahayana thought, and closely associated with Tara. Heavily bejewelled, she sits on a lotus by Avalokitesvara's gigantic left leg. Amazingly, this, and the multitude of other images that plaster the interior of the Sumtsek, resolve, when viewed from the centre of the shrine, into a harmonious whole.

Other Temples
The Chos-khor's three other temples all date from the 12th and 13th centuries, but are nowhere near as impressive as their predecessors. Tucked away at the far river end of the enclosure, the Manjushri La-khang is noteworthy only for its relatively recent "Thousand Buddha" paintings and gilded four-faced icon of Manjushri that fills almost the whole temple.

Next door the Lotsawa La-khang, with its central image and mural of Shakyamuni, is one of a handful of temples dedicated to Rinchen Zangpo, the "Great Translator". Whose missionary work inspired the foundation of Alchi; his small droopy-eared image sits on the right of Shakyamuni. The Lama may need to be cajoled into unlocking the La-khang Soma, the small square shrine south of the Sumtsek, which is decorated with three large Mandalas and various figures including an accomplished Yab Yum: the Tantric image of the copulating deities symbolizes the union of opposites on a material and spiritual level.


Road: One bus per day leaves Leh for Alchi in summer, taking three hours to cover the 70-km and returning early the next day. Other buses heading in that direction leave Leh at 6.30 am (for Kargil) and 9.00 am (for Dah-Hanoo) - one can catch one of these get off at Saspol, and walk the remaining 2.5-km via the motorable suspension bridge west of the village.

Ladakh Places of Interest (Visit Ladakh)

Leh is nested in a side valley just to the north of the Indus Valley.  Until 1947 it had close trading relations with Central Asia yak trains would set off from the Leh Bazaar to complete the stages over the Kaakoam Pass to Yarkand and Kashgar.


Administering the  Valleys of Suru , Drass, Wakha and Bodkarbu, Kargil lies midway between the alpine valleys of Kashmir and the fertile reaches of the Indus Valley and ladakh

Thak Thok
Thak Thok gompa shelters a cave in which the apostle Padmasambhava is said to have meditated during his epic eight-century journey to Tibet.

Dhahanu is situated to the south west of Leh, around 163 Kms. passing through the beautiful villages of Kaltsey, Domkhar, Skurbuchan 

Padum is 240 km to the south of Kargil, comes as a bit of an anticlimax

Rangdum is an elliptical expanded plateau surrounded by colourful hills on the one side and glacier encrusted rocky mountains on the other. 

Walled in by the Great Himalayan Divide, Zanskar, literally " Land of White Copper" has for decades exrted the allure of Shangri La on visitours to Ladakh.

Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum Strongdey Zangla Karsha Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar.

Valley of Ladakh

The Suru Valley
Diving two of the world's most formidable mountain ranges, the Suru Valley winds south from Kargil to the desolate Pensi La the main entry point for Zanskar. 

Nubra Valley
the Nubra valley  - nubra means green used to be on the trading route  connection Tibet with Turkistan, Also Now  as the Valley of Flowers more ...

Drass Valley
Drass (3230 m), 60 km west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, is a small township lying in the centre of the valley of the same name . 

Shyok Valley
The Shyok River receives the waters of the Nubra and Changchenmo rivers. It rises from the Khumdang glacier, which can be approached from Shyok. 

Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso, 15km to the southeast of Leh, is one of the largest saltwater lakes in Asia, a long narrow strip of water stretching from Ladakh east into Tibet.

Tso Moriri
Tso Moriri or "Mountain Lake" is Famous for the large herds of king, or wild ass, which graze on its shores, the lake of Tso Moriri.







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