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Shey Monastery

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

  1. ArunG

    ArunG New Member

    I am visiting Leh this May, and I am making a list of places to visit which include some notable landmarks, monasteries, lakes, etc.
    I am unable to decide about Shey monastery whether I should visit it or not. From what I have learnt most of the monastery is in ruins and nothing significant has been told about it.
    A friend of mine who went Leh last year said all monasteries are the same, but he is someone who does not have much interest in history so I can not go by his opinion, but he did mention the view when reaching the top of the monastery is fantastic.

    I would like more information and importantly some reviews about the Shey monastery, so I can decide whether it should be included in my itinerary.

  2. jnorth88

    jnorth88 Active Member

    Shey is both the monastery and nearby palace, so there are two things to see onsite. It can be beautiful, surrounded by the spare mountains. It is not quite ruins, either. I think it is worth a visit, and is nice since you might have it all to yourself. They do not have the same sort of traffic as other landmarks.

  3. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there, welcome to the forum!

    Shey itself was the summer capital of Leh Ladakh during the previous eras. It is about 15 kms to the South of Leh. The Shey Monastery and the Shey Palace Complex are located on a hillock in Shey. The Shey Monastery was built in 1655 under the instructions of Deldon Namgyal. It was built within the palace complex of Shey and it was dedicated to his late father, Singay Namgyal.

    Shey Monastery is best known for its giant copper with gilded gold statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. The statue is about 12 metres or 39 feet high. It covers about three floors of the monastery. The walls around the statue display the 16 Arhats, these are the saints that have achieved Nirvana. The wall behind the statue also has Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, Buddha's two chief disciples. The middle floor of where the Buddha is located has murals of the Buddha in different positions.

    As you walk further, you'd find a smaller shrine with another statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. You can also find the same murals from the monastery here. It is believed that both statues were made by Sanga Zargar Wanduk, with his assistants namely: Paldana Shering Gyaso, Gamani Jal Shring and Nakbiri. The descendants of these sculptors can now be found in Chilling and they're known for their silverware craftsmanship.

    From the shrine, you can walk a bit further and you'll find other tantric shrines. You can even spot carvings on the rock spurs. These carvings are of the five Dhyani Buddhas.

    Inside the monastery, you can reach the top through a steep climb. It requires some effort and persistence to do so. However, the views from the top are stunning. It offers a panoramic view of the mountains as well as the surrounding villages of Thiksey, Stakna, Matho, Stok and Leh.

    Unfortunately, the monastery has some cons as well. It's not as elegantly designed unlike the other monasteries in Leh. More sad though is that it isn't as maintained as well just like the other monasteries. You can see the dust all around and there are no signages for tourists. You can also find garbages all around.

    For me, it's still worth a visit despite these cons. It has been a part of history and if you have the time, then do explore this monastery. Of course, also include in your itinerary the other monasteries in Hemis and Thiksey as they're worth it to visit too.

    I hope this helps.:)