The Diskit Monastery or Diskit Gompa is the largest and oldest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh, northern India. It was established in the 14th century by Changzem Tserab Zangpo, a follower of Tsong Khapa (the founder of the Gelugpa sect). The monastery is famous for its 106 feet Maitreya Buddha sculpture located just below the monastery.
Situated at an altitude of 10,315 ft, the monastery offers a panoramic view of the Shyok Valley and its nearby surroundings. It is affiliated with the Gelugpa sect (Yellow Hat) of Tibetan Buddhism and is a sub gompa of the Thiksey monastery. The Diskit monastery is worth visiting for its breathtaking sceneries and rich Buddhist culture. The Shyok river, the lofty mountains against the backdrop of the blue sky surrounded by lush green meadows, are an altogether phenomenal view.
Diskit Monastery Travel Guide
We have shared a comprehensive travel guide in this blog post for exploring the Diskit Monastery in the best way possible. It will include all the required information, including accommodation, transport, and all the popular nearby attractions to see while visiting the spectacular monastery.
If you plan a trip to Diskit Monastery, our travel guide will help you plan an incredible and unforgettable trip. Our team of reliable experts from Ladakh offers customized tour packages at discounted prices to all our clients who wish to spend a fantastic holiday in Ladakh. If you have any queries related to Diskit Monastery, feel free to contact us.
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Highlights of Diskit Monastery
- 32 feet Maitreya Buddha statue
- Wall paintings, Murals, and Architecture
- Lachung Temple
- Dukhang or Prayer Hall
- Monastery School
- Dosmochey Festival
- Scenic views from the Monastery Rooftop
Things to do and places to visit near Diskit Monastery
The Diskit monastery is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in Diskit. However, you can also explore the village itself, take a stroll around the streets and witness the life of the local people. Apart from the Diskit monastery, there are several other tourist places such as Khalsar, Hunder, Turtuk, Panamik, and Sumur. There are many more things to do in Diskit and nearby places during your adventure trip to this heavenly location.
Camel Safari in Hunder
Enjoy an adventurous camel safari in the desert landscape of Hunder village and take a moment to admire the stunning views of the surrounding snowcapped mountains. You will indeed find the camel ride a thrilling experience and remember it for your lifetime.
Hot water spring in Panamik
The Panamik village is famous for its hot water spring. It is a small village located near the Siachen Glacier. You can take a trek from the village to the Ensa monastery. Don’t forget to take a dip in the hot spring, as it is said to have many therapeutic properties.
Yarab Tso Lake in Sumur
The enchanting Yarab Tso is located near the Sumur village. You can spend some quality time taking pictures and exploring the surrounding areas. If you are looking for a serene atmosphere, this is the best place to experience a peaceful environment.
Samstanling Monastery in Sumur
The Samstanling monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the Nubra valley. You can visit this ancient monastery and take a look at its unique architecture. The monastery is built amidst high mountains and is known for its intricate paintings and wall designs.
Visit the Zamskhang Palace
The Zamskhang Palace is the former residence of the rulers of Nubra. It was built in the 17th century and is an ideal example of Tibetan architecture. Although it is not in a good state, you can visit the place to get the fantastic views of the valley.
Rafting in Nubra River
Rafting in the Nubra River is one of the popular activities among adventure enthusiasts. You can enjoy an exhilarating rafting experience in the Nubra and Shyok River during your visit to Diskit.
Cycling in the village
You can enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings during your bicycle ride. Many tour organizers arrange cycling tours in this area. You will get a chance to witness the snowclad cliffs, blue skies, and the wildlife of the region.
Visit the Turtuk Village
You can plan a visit to the Balti village and experience the distinct culture and life of the people. There are other attractions in Turtuk, such as Balti Heritage Museum and an old mosque known for its exceptional architecture.
Itinerary Guide – How to plan your Itinerary for Diskit Monastery
Planning an Itinerary for the Diskit monastery without a professional guide is not easy. We have built an Itinerary with our specialists and planned a trip to Diskit monastery to share our wonderful experience with you. You should read it to know all about Diskit monastery to plan your itinerary efficiently.
Preparing for Diskit Monastery Trip
We departed from Leh in the morning as the early you leave, the more you can enjoy. Since the beautiful valley has so much to offer, we spent a couple of days in the Nubra valley. Many transport options are available from Leh, but we hired a local cab as it is the best option and more comfortable if you want to stay there for some days.
After driving for a while, we reached the Khardung La Pass, where we caught a glimpse of the fantastic view of the entire valley. We stopped to click a few pictures, quickly got into our car, and continued our journey towards the Diskit Monastery.
Checkpoint in North Pullu
Once we left Khardung La, we reached a checkpoint where the tourists were supposed to submit their permits. After passing the checkpoint, we came across a glacial stream flowing nearby. We reached the Khardung village and stopped to have some food and get refreshed. The restaurant offered us delicious Dal and Paratha with Lemon Ginger tea, satisfying our souls. We had a brief conversation with the local people and headed for our destination.
Reaching the Diskit Monastery
On reaching Khalsar, we took the left turn towards Diskit and finally reached the village. The Diskit village is famous for its picturesque landscape, double-humped Bactrian camel, and clear night sky. Speeding along the banks of the Shyok river, we could see the monastery at the top of the hill. We kept driving until we reached a point where we had to walk upwards and climb the stairs to enter the monastery.
The Buddha Statue
The colorful prayer flags made a striking contrast with the monochromic landscape of Diskit. Before entering the monastery, we clicked several pictures of the Maitreya Buddha statue. The statue was so gigantic that it seemed to dominate the sky while facing the majestic Shyok river. A small map was drawn on the pathway entrance, which led to the quarters of the monks and the prayer halls.
Prayer Hall in Diskit Monastery
We climbed a few steps and passed through a gate as we walked through the pathway. We entered the prayer hall and noticed that it was dimly lit. We came across numerous wall paintings, statues, and a giant drum that is said to ward off evil.
A statue of Kali (the protector deity) held the head and arm of a Mongol soldier. The soldier was believed to be a demon killed in the monastery grounds. The remains of the demon were preserved in the hands of the protector deity inside the temple to stop it from reviving in the future.
Climbing up the stairs, we finally reached the roof of the monastery. It was quite a surreal experience and probably one of the best views we got not just in the monastery but all of Ladakh.
Although Ladakh is famous for its artistic landscape and magnificent lakes, a trip to Ladakh is incomplete until you have visited some of the famous monasteries. The Diskit monastery is one of the major stops on your Nubra Valley trip. The natural beauty and the peaceful environment will give you a glimpse of the region’s Buddhist culture and history. You can find a good collection of frescos, sacred texts, and idols which are evident in the vibrant culture of Ladakh.
We hope this travel guide will help you plan a remarkable journey with your family and friends. So, the next time you plan a trip to Ladakh, make sure to visit the Diskit Gompa and engage your mind and body in the serene atmosphere of this ancient monastery.
Best time to visit Diskit Monastery
The best time to visit the Diskit monastery is from May to October. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the roads to Ladakh to Ladakh are open during this time. Hence it is the most suitable time for traveling in Ladakh.
If you are interested in the Buddhist culture, you can visit the monastery during the Dosmoche festival. The festival is celebrated with great vigor and many festivities in the month of February. So, if you can endure the harsh climate, visiting the monastery during the Dosmoche festival would be a perfect time.
Ladakh roads via Manali and Srinagar remain blocked from November to April. So, traveling by air is the only option to reach Ladakh and then further to the Diskit monastery.
Hence, the best time to travel to the Diskit monastery is the best time to visit Ladakh. You can read the Best time to visit Ladakh for detailed information on this topic.
How to reach Diskit Monastery
The Diskit monastery is located in the Nubra Valley at 116 kilometers from Leh city. The easiest way to reach the Diskit monastery is to arrive in Leh by flight and then book a taxi or a cab to reach the Diskit monastery. The monastery is also well connected through local buses. So you can use other forms of public and private transport such as bikes to reach the Diskit monastery.
- Flight: Leh Airport – Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the nearest airport connected with some of the major airports in India. You can hire a cab from the airport to reach the hotel in Leh and then plan a two-day trip from Leh to Nubra Valley, where you can cover Diskit Monastery and other nearby attractions.
- Cabs / Bus: The local taxis and buses function well in the Ladakh region during the summer months. You can hire a cab from Leh to Nubra, which passes from Khardung La and down to Khalsar village. From Khalsar, you can take the left turn descending towards the Diskit village and reach the monastery.
- Train: The closest major railway station from Leh is Jammu Tawi, 812 km from Leh. You can hire a cab from the railway station to Leh. It is a 3-day journey if you halt overnight at Srinagar and Kargil. After reaching Leh, you can hire a cab to travel to Diskit monastery, as mentioned above.
Diskit Monastery Timings and Entry Fee
The Diskit monastery remains open from 7 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 7 pm.
The entry fee for Diskit monastery is 30 rupees per person.
Accommodation options in Diskit
There are a few homestays, guesthouses, and luxury hotels in Diskit where you can plan to stay overnight. You can also stay in Hunder, about 8 kilometers from Diskit. So you can stay in any of the two villages while traveling to Nubra according to your preference.
Food Options near Diskit
We recommend that you have your meal before leaving Leh and pack some food to have later. However, you can have some snacks or soup at Khardung La cafe. You can also find some Dhabas and restaurants in Khalsar and Diskit village, where they offer excellent local Tibetan food, including Momos and Thukpa.
Diskit Monastery Travel Tips
- Rest on the first day of your arrival in Ladakh to acclimatize to the harsh climate.
- You should be cautious of the signs of Acute Mountain Sickness as it may affect even the most skilled travelers. Extreme climatic conditions in Diskit can be challenging for you, so be prepared before beginning your journey.
- Apply good sunscreen to protect your skin from high-intensity UV rays.
- Wear your sunglasses on sunny days.
- Bring some warm clothes and a down jacket if you plan to visit during winter. If you want to know essential items for the Leh, Ladakh trip, read our blog post Things to Carry for Ladakh Trip.
- You should wear conservative clothes and respect the rules of the monastery.
- Photography is not allowed in the museum and prayer hall of the monastery. Also, you should follow monastery rules and ask before clicking a photograph of any monk.
- You can easily find petrol pumps in Diskit. These petrol pumps remain fully functional during the winter season as well.
- Subscribe for a BSNL, Jio, or Airtel postpaid number because other networks do not receive signals in Leh. As you cross the Khardung La pass and reach Nubra, you should expect only BSNL sims to work.
- Book your flight tickets for Ladakh in advance, as the prices hike during the peak season.
- Google flights have a notable feature of the flight price alert system. So, search for your flight on google flights and then subscribe for the alert.
Please read the World health organization’s travel advice before traveling anywhere.
Read Indian Government travel guidelines.
History of Diskit Monastery
The Diskit monastery was founded in the 14th century by Changzem Tserab Zangpo. Ladakh was then under King Grags-pa-bum-lde and his brother, who unsuccessfully tried to take over Nubra Valley under a local king named Nyig-ma-Gragspa. The local king helped a Gelugpa sect supporter construct the gompa at Diskit and glorify the idol of Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Gelugpa order, in the gompa.
During the reign of King Blogros-chog-idan, who had even governed western Tibet, Panchen Lhabtsun – a resident of Nubra Valley by birth – studied in Tibet and later became an advisor to the founder of Tashilhunpo Monastery and finally, during his last stage of life, came back to Nubra Valley.
Conquest of Nubra Valley
In 1500, Ladakh was ruled by Bkra-shis-rnamrgyal, who fought Mirza Haider of Central Asia in Nubra, ultimately defeating the last and thus obtaining Nubra under Ladakh King’s rule. Nevertheless, the local chiefs still yielded control in Hunder and Diskit. The Shia Muslims started dwelling in Nubra after this war. Bkra-shis-rnam-rgyal’s son, Tshedbang-rnam-rgyal ruled Ladakh from 1530 and expanded his kingdom. At that time, Nubra people prevented him from invading Hor in Xinjiang, as trade with Yarkand was regarded as crucial to Nubra.
Establishment of Diskit Monastery
During the rule of Jams-dbang-rnam-rgyal, historical logs imply that a periodic tribute payment was made by the people of Nubra to the ruler. King Bde-‘Idanrnam-rgyal successfully conquered Baltistan and the Mughals. The Rgyal kings had a strong faith in religion and constructed mani walls throughout their empire. Lamas were specially hired to recite hymns in Nubra and other nearby areas.
In the mid-eighteenth century, Tshe-dbang-rnam-rgyal gave away the authority of Diskit monastery to the Rinpoche of Thiksey Monastery. This agreement has been maintained to the present day. Since then, Diskit has been considered a branch of the Thiksey monastery.
Geography of Diskit Monastery
The Diskit monastery is situated on a hill just above the right bank of the Shyok River in the Nubra Valley. The Nubra River is one of the tributaries of the Shyok River, which flows parallel to the Indus river in the north of the Ladakh Ranges. The valley was part of the caravan course between China and Tibet. Since the valley is situated at a lower altitude, the climate remains mild in the entire region of Nubra Valley. The climatic conditions in Nubra have resulted in the growth of lush green vegetation in the valley and are hence known as the “Orchard of Ladakh”.
The valley has numerous trekking spots and is home to the double-humped Bactrian camel. It is located beyond the Khardung La pass in Diskit village. Since the Khardung La pass becomes unpassable during winter, the Diskit monastery and village have become the gathering center for the people of the Nubra valley. Diskit is the headquarters of Nubra and therefore has many government offices with basic facilities.
The road to the monastery passes from the Diskit village through a rough road that crosses a stream in the middle of the town. The village is connected to Leh via the Kardung La pass, which remains blocked between October to May due to landslides and heavy snowfall. The road in Khalsar village divides into two of which one the right leads to Sumur and Panamik, while the left leads to Hunder and Diskit village.
Architecture of Diskit Monastery
The Diskit monastery is built on a hill, and one can reach the monastery by climbing the stone stairs, which eventually lead to the prayer hall of the monastery. The hall contains a huge drum and a magnificent statue of Maitreya Buddha. On the second floor, there are numerous images of fierce guardian divinities. The elevated dome of the monastery represents a mural of Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet.
It also contains many shrines and Tibetan and Mongolian texts in the storehouse. The monastery is connected to Mongol mythology which is believed to be the site where an anti-Buddhist Mongol demon once lived. The demon was killed near the gompa premises but is said to have been revived many times. The hand and head of the demon are believed to lie inside the monastery’s temple.
Some extensions made to the monastery building recently are in a good state, but the Zimcchungh and the main prayer hall are ruined. The older part of the monastery is in a wrecked condition, as they remain unattended. The paintings are covered with soot, and the images are kept in disorder.
The Lachung temple is one of the oldest temples in the Nubra Valley. Inside the temple, a colossal statue of Tsong Khapa is revered with a yellow hat of Gelugpa crowning the image. There were exquisite paintings of Buddhist gods and intricately carved walls depicting the chronology and history of Buddhism.
The most attractive part of the Diskit monastery is the picturesque views of the Diskit village, snowcapped mountains, and surrounding landscape that one can witness from the rooftop of the monastery.
Maitreya Buddha Statue
The 32 m Maitreya Buddha statue is situated on the hilltop below the monastery overlooking the Shyok River towards Pakistan. The statue was built in April 2006 and was glorified by Dalai Lama on 25th July 2010. The statue was built from the money from local donations and was decorated with 8 kg of gold. It was built to protect Diskit village, prevent war with Pakistan and promote peace globally.
The monastery is home to about 100 monks. It runs a school with support from a non-government association called “Tibet Support Group”. The organization also provides computer facilities and teaches science subjects in the English language to the Tibetan children of the region. The organization has trained the monks of the monastery to teach the children of the school later. They also provide teaching material and add to the school library in the form of encyclopedias and dictionaries.
Festivals in Diskit Monastery
The famous Dosmoche or Desmochhey festival is celebrated at Diskit Gompa in February. The prayer festival is also observed in the Likir monastery and Leh Palace simultaneously. Since it is celebrated in winter when the Khardung La route is closed, large crowds from nearby villages gather at Diskit monastery to see the Cham dance.
The Cham dance is a mask dance performed by the monastery monks, which depicts the superiority of good over evil. These dances are believed to prevent bad fortune in the upcoming Tibetan new year. During the festival, the heads of the deity statues are uncovered, and images made of dough are thrown out to avoid any disaster occurring and to open the door of fortune and peace to the people.