A Guide to Alchi Monastery
alchi monastery

The famous Alchi Monastery, situated in Leh Ladakh, is a renowned destination for devotees and tourists alike. Built in the 10th century by Guru Rinchen Zangpo, it is the oldest Buddhist Learning center in North India. Its walls feature stunning carvings and paintings, some of which are some of the oldest in Ladakh. The monastery has many temples from different periods and has been the backdrop of several movies, such as Dil Se and Tashan. For the convenience of visitors, there are restaurants, tea stalls, souvenir shops, and shacks in the vicinity, making this a must-visit location. Cliffhangers India is here to provide you with a complete guide about this monastery.


Best Time to Visit

The most ideal time to experience the Alchi Monastery is between May and September when the roads are open and clear. From November to April the roads close due to heavy snowfall, so that period should be avoided. To get a full understanding of the Ladakhi culture and to witness the festivities of the Tibetan New Year, Sho Dun, and Chotrul Ducan, plan your visit to this Monastery during these celebrations.

Timings:

The Monastery is open from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm daily and does not charge an admission fee.


Leh to Alchi Monastery distance

The village of Alchi and the monastery are located near the Srinagar Leh highway, approximately 65 kilometers from Leh and 160 kilometers from Kargil. When traveling from Leh, drive about 60 kilometers and you will come across Alchi Road. It is a narrow road so be sure to keep an eye out. The Indus River will be to your left at this point, having not been seen since the Indus Zanskar Confluence. Turn left and cross the bridge over the river (pictured below), then drive for four kilometers to arrive at Alchi Village.


How to reach

By Air: The closest airport to reach Alchi Monastery is Leh airport, which is about 64 km away. You can take a taxi or jeep to get there.

By Train: Rail transportation is not possible in this area because of the altitude. However, the closest railway station is situated in Jammu and Kashmir.

By Road: The quickest and most convenient way to access Alchi would be with your vehicle, by following the route mentioned. If you have come to Leh by public transport, then you could rent a motorcycle and make the trip to Alchi. During the same journey, you could also visit Gurudwara Patthar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Sangam Point, and Likir Monastery.


History

Even today,the Monastery is held in high regard due to its historical significance. Built between 958 and 1055 AD, the site is steeped in stories. Legend has it that King Yeshe of Guge wanted to promote Buddhism in the Himalayas, so he dispatched 21 scholars to spread the word.

Unfortunately, most of them succumbed to the harsh weather before they could reach the highlands, but two of them made it – Rinchen Zangpo among them. It is believed that these two men constructed 108 monasteries in the region, with only a few remaining today, one of them being Alchi Monastery.


The Architecture

The Monastery is composed of three main structures, namely the Dukhang, Sum Tsek, and the Temple of Manjushri. The Dukhang, or the assembly hall, is the oldest and largest area of the monastery, with walls featuring paintings of various Buddhas and goddesses. The Sum Tsek is a three-story temple that is renowned for its four-armed Bodhisattva statue that takes up two floors of the temple.

To experience the architecture Cliffhangers India will provide you with the best guides. The ground floor of this temple houses a Maitreya Buddha statue, as well as sculptures of White Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri. The Temple of Manjushri, also known as Jampe Lhakhang, has a sculpture and painting of Rinchen Tsangpo. Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence that confirms the age of the Alchi Monastery.


Where to Stay

If you’re hoping to stay in Alchi, there are many affordable hotels with stunning views of the river. You can also book a tent if you’d prefer. Additionally, Cliffhangers will provide you with camps and also help you find a variety of affordable restaurants that offer both Indian and Tibetan cuisine.

Lodging in Alchi Village is mostly comprised of a few guesthouses and homestays that are basic and plain, yet comfortable and cozy. As Alchi is situated at a lower altitude than Leh, it’s a great place to stay the first night after arriving in Leh to help prevent altitude sickness in Ladakh.


Places to visit

Alchi is a small village with limited sights to see; however, its natural beauty, proximity to the Indus River, and tranquil atmosphere offer a unique and enjoyable experience. One should not come to Alchi with an expectation of a multitude of activities and places to visit.

Dukhang- Assembly Hall

The Du-Khang is the primary gathering hall at Alchi Monastery and is the oldest structure found on the grounds. It is used for conducting spiritual services and ceremonies. The main attraction is a statue of the celestial Buddha Vairocana, surrounded by four other Buddha figures. This enhances the spiritual atmosphere and provides a stunning visual display of art.

Manjushri Temple

Manjushri is regarded as the oldest and most important bodhisattva in Mahayana literature. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Manjushri is venerated as an enlightened being and used as a meditative focus. The Manjushri Temple, also known as Jampe Lhakhang, is situated near Lotsawa La- Khang in the Leh Ladakh District and is said to date back to the 12th Century. It is one of the top attractions for tourists visiting Alchi.

Sumtseg

The remarkable aspect of the this beautiful Monastery, Sumtseg is its construction with loam and natural stone, which dates back to the early 13th century. The wooden fixtures and artwork inside the building, crafted by Kashmiri artists, add to its beauty.

The Sumtseg Camps run by the monastery in the village is a great option for those looking to save money on their trip. Alternatively, for those with camping equipment, Alchi is a good spot to set up a self-camp.

Have you ever been to the Alchi Monastery? If not, you should check it out when you are in Leh next. What did you think of this comprehensive guide to thisi monastery? Cliffhangers India will help you plan your customized trip to Alchi monastery. We hope that the information we have given you is helpful to plan your trip to the Alchi Gompa Monastery. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Cliffhangers India.



Frequently asked questions?

Why is Alchi Monastery famous?

Alchi Monastery in Ladakh is one of the popular tourist attractions in Ladakh. This is the Buddhist Monastery which consists of many temples. This is also one of the oldest monasteries in Leh Ladakh. The Monastery is famous because the monastery was created by the popular scholar Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th century and the architecture of the monastery is unique.

What is the entry fee for Alchi Monastery?

There will be no entrance to Alchi Monastery. This monastery is only 65 kilometers from Leh. Photography inside the Monastery is strictly prohibited. When you go inside this monastery keep your noise low to maintain holiness. 

How old is Alchi Monastery?

Alchi Monastery also known as Alchi Gompa is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh. The Monastery was built by the famous Buddhist scholar Guru Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th century. This Monastery contains a huge statue of Buddha and the interior décor of the monastery is in Baroque style. You will also see the Buddhist paintings which are the major attractions of this monastery. 

What is the history of Alchi Monastery?

The monastery was built by Rinchen Zongpo in the 10th century along with the Lamayuru monastery. This monastery is one of the main attractions in Ladakh. You can visit this monastery during the Ladakh sightseeing. The architecture of this monastery is in the Baroque style.

What is the best time to visit Alchi Monastery?

The best time to visit Alchi Monastery is in the summertime. May to September is considered the best time to visit this place. During this time the weather is pleasant there and many festivals are celebrated in the summer months. Chotrul Duchan, Galdan Namchot, and Sho Dun are some of the popular festivals that are celebrated during this summer time.

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