Thiksay monastery – seat of prayer on the hill: Leh, Ladakh
On the way to Hemis gompa around 19 km from the town of Leh, Thiksay monastery is a very imposing structure that provides a panoramic view of the green Indus Valley from its vantage point on top of the hill. Thiksay monastery is located at an altitude of 11,800 feet above sea-level.
Thiksay monastery has chambers full of statues, stupas and thankas. There are 60 resident lamas and the library is one of the biggest in Ladakh. Thiksay gompa was built in the 15th century. There is a newly built temple of Maitreya which is situated above the main courtyard. This temple was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 1980.
The temple is built around a gigantic statue of Avalokiteshwara (the future Buddha) seated in the lotus position. The murals on the walls depict scenes from the life of Buddha. The roof top of Thiksay gompa provides a good view of the villages, the terraced fields, Shey and Stok villages to the North west, Matho and Stakna towards its south.
To reach Thiksay monastery, a metaled road branches off from the main highway towards the west and after taking a ‘U’ curve, one arrives at the entrance of the monastery near a car park.
There is an annual festival that is held in Thiksay monastery premises which is known as the Gustor ritual and is held from the 17th to the 19th day of the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar generally during the months of October or November.
During this festival sacred dances such as the Cham dance also know as the maks dance are performed as a part of this ritual. Another special feature of this festival is the trade fair held at the base of the monastery, in which villagers from all over Ladakh assemble to barter and trade goods.
The morning prayers are at 7 am, with synchronized chanting of the Buddhist Sutras at the monastery, attracts many devotees and worshipers to observe the service. Thiksay monastery has an entry fee of Rs 20.