Lamayuru Monastery – Gompa above Moon Land
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Located at an altitude of about 11,500 ft, close to Fotu-la (pass), on Srinagar-Leh highway, Lamayuru (Yuru gompa) is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Lamayuru village in Leh district of Ladakh. Lamayuru is 115 km from Leh and is host to two annual masked dance festivals in the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar when all the monks from these surrounding gompas gather together to pray.

Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks resident. It has, in the past, housed up to 400 monks, many of which are now based in gompas in surrounding villages. The Drikung history states that the Indian scholar Naropa (956-1041) allegedly caused a lake that filled the valley to dry up and founded Lamayuru Monastery.

The oldest surviving building at Lamayuru is a temple called Seng-ge-sgang, at the southern end of the Lamayuru rock, which is attributed to the famous builder-monk Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055). Rinchen Zangpo was charged by the king of Ladakh to build 108 gompas (monasteries), and certainly many gompas in Ladakh, Spiti Valley and the surrounding regions, date from his time. The oldest gompas, those dating from Rinchen-Zangpo’s time — Alchi and Lamayuru, and the less accessible Wanla, Mang-gyu and Sumda — belonged at the time of their foundation to none of these Tibetan schools, whose establishment they antedate.

They were at some stage taken over by the Ka-dam-pa, and when it fell into decline they were taken over again, this time mostly by the Ge-lugs-pa. The exception was Lamayuru, which was for some reason claimed by the Dri-gung-pa. The gompa consisted originally of five buildings, and some remains of the four corner buildings can still be seen.

How to reach Lamayuru monastery

Lamayuru monastery is 115km from Leh on Leh-Srinagar national highway (NH) number 01. The highway is well maintained and in good condition. The monastery can be reached in 2.5 hours from Leh town. It is next to moonland after a mild uphill drive. The monastery is just next to the NH.

Best time to visit Lamayuru monastery

Best time to visit Lamayuru monastery is mid-April to October.

Places to visit at Lamayuru

Visit the Lamayuru gompa, which is one of the oldest gompas of Ladakh, built on a hillock. Visit moon land formations next to Lamayuru towards Leh. Fotu-la pass is 15 minutes drive from the monastery towards Kargil. Wanla monastery is at a 30-minute drive from Lamayuru.

Also Read: Things to do in Ladakh in winters

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