Buddhist Heritage in the Himalayas
The Alchi Gompa of Ladakh belongs to 1000 AD. It is located about 67 km to the west of Leh. The structure was raised by the great translator, Rinchen Zangpo with the help of thirty two sculptors and wood carvers from Kashmir. The monastery and its paintings showcase traditional Indian touch. On the basis of painted shrines of the late 11th century, Alchi is considered one of the most beautiful Buddhist monuments of the world.
The main image inside the Alchi Monastery is that of Vairochana. There are also images of the five Buddha Families and other attendant deities inside the monastery. These paintings and images are the rarest and most extensive examples of Buddhist art in Kashmir. The best period to visit Alchi is considered from May to September.
The region was a significant trade route in the past. As the Islamic armies acquired the whole region, Buddhist monuments and monasteries suffered a decline. Luckily, Alchi got saved from the distruction. Here you can spot ancient paintings and murals which are well preserved till date.
Tourist Attractions of Alchi
The oldest temple in Alchi, Du-khang was established by the Kal-dan Shes-rab of Tibetan descent, in the 11th century. The temple charms all with its wall engravings, carved images of Bodhisattvas and the plaster image of Vairocana. The temple has a unique geometric formation, which looks like a visualisation of the universe. The huge wall towards the south is known as a representation or sketch of Mahakala, Great time, Timelessness, or Eternity.
This huge temple features a beautiful architectural pattern with mythical paintings and murals, and grand pillars with carved brackets depicting the typical Buddhist art.
Lotsawa Lha-khang and Manjushri Lha-khang
These are two small adjoining shrines. Some of the main features of the temple include central columns, images of the Bodhisattva, murals based on the theme of the Thousand Buddhas, and images of other goddesses and guardians. The Lotsawa Lha-khang is dedicated to Rinchen Zangpo.
This structure is known for a chorten or votive stupa with columns delicately engraved with lion faces. The western wall features painted mandalas, the northern one has image of Vairochana, and the eastern wall has an image of Buddha.
This three day festival falls in the month of June. It lets you explore Ladakhi culture, art forms and local traditions.
How to Get There
By Air: Flights from Delhi to Leh are operated throughout the year, while Srinagar and Jammu flights are operated only during the summer season.
By Road: It takes half an hour from Leh to reach Alchi. Leh is easily accessible from Srinagar (434 km) and Manali (477 km; in Himachal Pradesh) via road.