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Hemis Monastery

Discussion in 'North India' started by Darran, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. Darran

    Darran New Member

    I am going Leh to see the picturesque place and see some of the beautiful monasteries which Ladakh is known for. I am planning to gather information about the monasteries as it is the way I go on holidays, I research about places and find out about them, this way it makes it more interesting to see and understand the place I am visiting.

    A few of the questions which I have about Hemis Monastery are as follows:

    1. How far is Hemis Monastery from Leh?

    2. What is Hemis Monastery famous for?

    3. I have heard there are some festivals which take place at the monastery when are these?

    4. Does the monastery provide overnight accommodation?

    5. Are there hotels near the monastery as well?

    6. Are there any restaurants near the monastery?

    7. How long is the trek to Hemis Monastery?

  2. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    The monastery is about 45 km from Leh proper, so that is probably an hour to get there. Since it is so close to Leh, you should have plenty of time to go back and stay at a hotel in town. That is probably your best bet, since you will find better accommodations in Leh.

  3. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome to the forum!

    The distance between Hemis Monastery and Leh is about 45 kms. This can be a 45-minute drive or more.

    The Hemis Monastery is dubbed as the richest monastery in India, in terms of its collections of gold stupas and statues of Buddha made of copper. This is probably what the monastery is most famous for. But aside from that, the monastery has a long history behind it. The monastery has existed as far back as the 11th Century. It is believed that Naropa is the one who established the monastery.

    According to a manuscript found in the monastery, Naropa met Tilopa, who gives him "12 Great Tasks" and "12 Small Tasks." This was supposed to enlighten him to the emptiness of things. Both of them traveled to Otantra, which is called Otantapuri today. Naropa is therefore the founding father of the Kagyu-lineage of Buddhism. And Hemis, this is the place where the Kagyu-lineage began and even today, it's the main destination for Kagyu devotees.

    For a while, the Hemis Monastery was lost. In the year 1672, the monastery was re-established by Lama Tagstang Raspa. From there on, it became the headquarters of the Drukpa lineage. The monastery also administers all the other monasteries throughout Ladakh.

    The Hemis Festival happens annually on the 10th day of the Tibetan lunar month. This year, the date was from July 14 to 15. This festival celebrates the birth of the Buddhist guru Padmasambhava. The main aim of the festival is to celebrate the victory of good over evil. You'd fine the devotees wearing colourful clothing during this time.

    Perhaps the main attraction of the festival is the masked dance of the Lamas. This dance is performed in the courtyard of the Hemis Monastery. There's also a fun fair held during this time in which different food stalls and crafts stalls are in the area. Various playing musical instruments also give life to the festival.

    The other festival called the Naropa Festival is held every 12 years only. This is a month-long festival from July 1 to July 30. Several rituals are done during this time which are believed to grant spiritual relief. One of which is the opening of an ancient silk embroidery of Saint Padmasambhava. Cultural performances are also done by Drukpa masters and communities. The last event would be the display of the sacred Six Bone Ornaments belonging to Naropa.

    Although it's not openly advertised, the monastery does have accommodation options for devotees and pilgrims. You'd have to inquire there though once you reach the monastery.

    There are some hotels near Hemis but it's not that close to the monastery. Here are the closest ones I was able to find:
    • Ratna Hotel Ladakh - This is about 22.5 kms from Hemis. Their rooms are very basic but comfortable. Each have its own bathroom with hot/cold shower. They also have a restaurant and a garden. The lobby area has a WiFi as well. Rates are available upon request. Here's their address: Choglamsar Bridge, Leh, 194101, Ladakh.
    • Ladakh Serai - This is about 24 kms from Hemis. They have 22 yurts with attached bathrooms. There's also a restaurant, parking and even laundry service in the hotel. Rates are available upon request. Their address is: Ladakh Sarai Resorts Ayu, Leh-Ladakh.
    • Hotel Siachen - This is about 29 kms from Hemis. Rooms have their own LCD television, bathrooms with hot/cold shower and telephone. They have parking facilities as well. Rates start at Rs. 3,000 per night. Their address is: Main Bazar, Kargil - 194103, India.
    There are no restaurant near the monastery but there are plenty in Leh Ladakh. Some of them are:
    • Chopsticks Restaurant Noodle Bar - They have Chinese, Indian, Tibetan and Asian cuisines. Their Steam Chicken Momos are delectable. Their address is: Raku Complex, Fort Rd, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir 194101.
    • Tibetan Kitchen - They have Indian, Tibetan and Chinese cuisines. Their Chicken Thenthuk Noodles is suitable for the cold weather in Ladakh. Their address is: Fort Road, Leh 194101, India.
    • Gesmo Restaurant - They have Italian, Chinese, Indian and American cuisines. Their pizzas are quite good here. Their address is: Fort Road, Leh, India.
    Since it's about 45 kms from Leh, it can take you about 7 hours by foot. There are buses from Leh to Hemis that you can ride though.

    I hope this helps!