The Lamayuru Monastery, also known as the Yuru Monastery, is a Buddhist monastery in Lamayuru, Leh district, Ladakh, northern India. It is one of the largest and most significant monasteries in Ladakh. The monastery is situated on the Srinagar – Leh highway 15 kilometers east of the Fotu La Pass at an altitude of 11,520 ft (3,510 m).
The Lamayuru monastery is a serene place with a plethora of antique designs, enchanting sights, and devoted monks. The gompa is famous for its exciting history and the festival of Yuru Kabgyat. The location of the Lamayuru monastery also serves as a platform to witness the spectacular sceneries of the mountains and hills nearby. Lamayuru is also known as the Moonland of Ladakh because of the geographical formation of moon-like terrains sculpted into the Himalayas.
Lamayuru Monastery Travel Guide
We have compiled a comprehensive detailed travel guide in this blog post for exploring the Lamayuru Monastery in the best possible way. It will cover all the necessary information, including transport, accommodation, food options, and all the major attractions to see in the ancient monastery.
Our travel guide will help you plan a remarkable and unforgettable trip if you plan a trip to Lamayuru Monastery. Our team of trusted experts from Ladakh offers customized tour packages at discounted prices to all our valued customers who desire to spend a wonderful holiday in Ladakh. If you have any questions about Lamayuru Monastery, please contact us. Get the best deals to explore Leh in our Leh Ladakh Tour Packages.
Highlights of Lamayuru Monastery
- Dukhang or Prayer Hall
- Sengge Lhakhang Temple
- Gonkhang Temple
- Naropa’s Cave
- Breathtaking views of the villages and mountains nearby
- Yuru Kabgyat Festival
Things to do and places to visit in Lamayuru
Unlike Leh, you won’t find fancy markets in Lamayuru. So, let us take a look at the popular things to do in Lamayuru:
Trek around Lamayuru
If you are interested in outdoor activities, you can trek around Lamayuru. The trek from Lamayuru to Darcha takes about 18-20 days. You can also go trekking from Lamayuru to Wanla, which can be completed within five days.
Camp in Lamayuru Village
Lamayuru has several places where you can pitch your tent and camp overnight, such as Wanla, Hinju, and Lamayuru village itself. It will be a fantastic experience to camp in the mountains after an arduous trekking expedition in the moon landscape.
Explore the Moon Landscape
During your stay at Lamayuru, you cannot miss exploring the unique landscape. The vast stretch of rocky terrain resembles the surface of the moon. The best location to get the fantastic views of the terrain is from Meditation Hill.
Meditate in the Peaceful Atmosphere of Lamayuru
If you are looking for a peaceful atmosphere, the Lamayuru monastery is a perfect place for meditation. The beauty and tranquility of this place will calm your mind, body, and soul.
Attend the Yuru Kabgyat Festival
If you are interested in the Buddhist culture, you can visit the gompa around June and attend the Yuru Kabgyat Festival. During the festival, you can witness the cultural dance performances, dramas, and sacred ceremonies performed by the monks of the Lamayuru monastery.
Visit the Wanla Monastery
You can also visit the Wanla monastery, located close to Lamayuru monastery. During your visit to the monastery, you can learn about the Buddhist culture and spirituality. The gompa also offers stunning views of the surrounding areas, a must-see if you visit the Lamayuru monastery.
Explore the Uleytokpo town
Uleytokpo is a small town located in proximity to the Lamayuru monastery. Situated at an altitude of 3040 meters, it serves as a perfect basecamp for trekkers and campers. There are also a few accommodation options in the town where you can opt to rest and let your body acclimatize to the climate of Ladakh.
Itinerary Guide – How to plan your Itinerary for Lamayuru Monastery
Planning a perfect Itinerary for the Lamayuru monastery without an expert guide is not easy. We have built an Itinerary with our trained professionals and arranged a trip to Lamayuru monastery to share our awe-inspiring experience with you. We hope this guide will help you learn all about Lamayuru monastery to plan your trip smoothly.
Preparing for Lamayuru Monastery Trip
We started driving from Kargil along the Leh – Srinagar highway with a brief stop at a few places on the way to Lamayuru monastery. On reaching the Fotula Pass, we clicked some pictures and set off quickly towards the Lamayuru town.
The drive on the winding roads along the Indus river was absolutely scenic. After a while, we caught the first sight of the monastery, which was really fascinating. The monastery was nestled high up on the hill amidst the barren rocky landscape.
Reaching the Lamayuru Monastery
Finally, we reached the monastery and got out of our car to pay the entry fee at the ticket counter. We could see several prayer wheels at the monastery’s entrance that led us to the stacks of the multicolored Mani stones (prayer stones). These prayer stones are believed to bring peace and tranquility to the village.
While we admired these beautiful prayer stones, we caught sight of the intricate paintings on the mud walls that seemed to fade with time. At this point, we discovered the old building of the Lamayuru monastery.
Old Lamayuru Monastery
Although the gompa was in a state of ruins, something was mesmerizing about it. The walls were all broken, and the prayer wheels were no longer used. It felt like the place was raided sometime in the past, yet there seemed to be some mystical beauty that forced us to explore the monastery.
As we moved further, we came across some white capsules kept along the walls in between the prayer wheels. The remains of the dead were preserved in these white cases, and it was here we uncovered the ceremonial part of Buddhism. We wondered how the gompa must have been with vibrant red paintings, golden stupa, and whitewashed walls in its glory days.
Mandala Ceremony in Lamayuru Monastery
One of the monks made us understand that the Mandala Ceremony was a ritual in which a Mandala was created by the lamas of the monastery. The ceremony was celebrated annually, and at the end of the year, the monks dismantled it to make it all over again.
The Mandala was a sand painting that represented life. At the end of the year, this sand painting is immersed in the river, and a new one is prepared in its place. The mandala was surrounded by colorful flags called Datter flags.
Assembly Hall of the Monastery
As we entered the Assembly Hall of the monastery, we witnessed the Thanka paintings on the walls. The colorful interiors of the hall made a stark contrast to the simple exteriors that we had experienced so far. There was an aura of calmness and serenity, and one could experience the soothing vibes within the hall.
Prayer Hall of the Monastery
Walking inside the monastery, we met a monk who was quite surprised to see us. We had a brief conversation with him, and at the end, we asked his permission to click a picture with us, and he humbly allowed it. We took a small tour of the new Assembly Hall from outside as it was shut when we found it.
We noticed that the visitors were busy watching the monks preparing for some ceremony. We asked one of them and learned about the Mandala Ceremony going on in the monastery. We walked out of the prayer hall and sat on the edge to look at the dry mountains and the life of the people in the village below.
Moonscapes of Lamayuru
We climbed up the Meditation Hill, where we saw some decorated stupas and prayer rocks. The stones were carved with Tibetan script, few of them being centuries old. As we climbed up the hill, we could witness the surreal landscape and entire village of Lamayuru. The strange rock formations and the uneven surface offered us an out-of-the-world experience.
Although Ladakh is famous for its ancient monasteries, rocky landscape, and splendid lakes, a trip to Ladakh is incomplete until you have visited some of the well-known monasteries. Lamayuru monastery offers a serene atmosphere with a rich Ladakhi culture and a unique moon landscape. It is situated only 2 hours away from Leh in the middle of Leh and Kargil. The village is perhaps one of the most interesting places that you can see in Ladakh. It is a significant tourist attraction in Ladakh because of its historical significance and incredible scenic beauty. You can enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes from the monastery.
So, the next time you plan to visit Ladakh, make sure to include the Lamayuru Monastery in your itinerary. We hope this detailed travel guide will help you plan an incredible trip with your family and friends.
Best time to visit Lamayuru Monastery
The best time to visit Lamayuru is from May to October. The weather is most favorable for traveling during these months and hence a perfect time to visit the Lamayuru monastery. The roads to Ladakh are also open from both Manali and Srinagar sides. However, if you want to attend the Yuru Kabgyat festival, you should visit during June/July.
The roads to reach Ladakh via Manali and Srinagar remain closed from November to April because of heavy snowfall. Hence traveling via air is the only option to reach Leh and further to Lamayuru monastery in Ladakh during winters. The roads to Lamayuru remain open in the winter season from Leh side. However, Namkee La and Fotu La Pass remain closed at times.
Therefore, the best time to visit the Lamayuru 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 Lamayuru Monastery
Lamayuru is situated on the Leh-Srinagar highway, and if you are traveling from Kargil to Leh or Leh to Srinagar, you will undoubtedly pass through Lamayuru town. It is recommended to halt and enjoy the ancient heritage and scenic beauty of the moonscapes of Lamayuru. The easiest way to reach the Lamayuru monastery is to arrive in Leh by air and then hire a cab to reach the Lamayuru monastery. The monastery is also connected through state-run JKSRTC buses, so you can use other forms of public transport to reach the Lamayuru monastery.
- Flight: Leh Airport – Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the nearest airport well connected with the major airports in India. You can hire a taxi from the airport or rent a bike to reach your guesthouse or hotel in Leh and then plan a day trip from Leh to Lamayuru monastery and some other nearby tourist attractions.
- Cabs/Bus: You can hire a cab or rent a bike from Leh to reach the Lamayuru monastery. The distance between the Leh and Lamayuru is approximately 114 kilometers, and it takes around 2 hours to reach by road.
- Train – Jammu Tawi is the nearest railway station from Lamayuru, at 685 kilometers. You can hire a taxi from the railway station to Lamayuru over Srinagar Leh Highway. It is a 3-day journey if you plan to stay overnight at Srinagar and Kargil.
To get more details about this topic, look at this blog post, How to Reach Ladakh.
Accommodation at Lamayuru
Since Lamayuru is located at a distance of 114 kilometers from Leh, it is advisable to stay overnight and enjoy the serene and peaceful ambiance of the village. There are many accommodation options in Lamayuru, including guesthouses and homestays. You can also choose to stay in the monastery as it offers accommodation for visitors.
Food options at Lamayuru
There are many food joints on the way from Leh to Lamayuru or Kargil to Lamayuru. These restaurants offer local food and do not have a lot of variety. You can also have meals in the Dhabas, which offer excellent and delicious authentic Tibetan food, including momos and Thukpa.
The Lamayuru monastery has a famous restaurant that offers fantastic food. If you reach the monastery in the afternoon, you should definitely have your lunch in this restaurant.
Lamayuru Monastery Travel Tips
- Rest as much as possible on the first day of your arrival to acclimatize to the climate.
- Apply good sunscreen to protect your skin from high-intensity UV rays.
- You should be cautious of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness as it may influence even the most skilled travelers. Extreme climatic conditions in Lamayuru can be challenging for you, so be prepared before beginning your journey.
- Bring some warm clothes and a down jacket if you plan to visit during the winter months. If you want to know essential items for the Leh, Ladakh trip, read our blog post Things to Carry for Ladakh Trip.
- Wear your sunglasses on sunny days.
- No Inner Line Permits are needed to visit the monastery as it is located on the Srinagar-Leh Highway.
- You should wear conservative clothes and respect the rules of the monastery.
- You can take pictures of the picturesque views from the gompa. However, you should follow monastery rules and ask before clicking a photograph of any monk.
- You can find petrol pumps in Leh, Kargil, and Khaltsi. These petrol pumps remain fully functional during winters as well.
- Subscribe for a BSNL, Jio, or Airtel postpaid number because other networks do not receive signals in Ladakh.
- Book your flight tickets in advance, as the prices would hike during the peak season in Leh, Ladakh.
- Google flights have a remarkable 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.
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History of Lamayuru Monastery
According to a popular tradition, the Lamayuru monastery was initially the first Bon monastery in Ladakh. Lamayuru literally means “Sauwastika” a famous symbol for eternity. The most popular school of Bon is Yungdrang which is presently associated with the Drikung Kagyu school of Buddhism.
According to Drikung history, the Indian scholar Naropa caused a lake to dry up and founded the Lamayuru monastery there. The oldest building in Lamayuru is the Seng-ge-Sgang temple located at the southern end of the Lamayuru rock. The temple is attributed to Rinchen Zangpo, a famous builder monk. Dating back to the 10th century, the King of Ladakh had charged Rinchen Zangpo to build 108 monasteries in Ladakh. Several other monasteries in Spiti Valley and the surrounding areas were also built during his reign.
Initially, the monastery consisted of five buildings, and the remnants of the four buildings can still be seen. It is one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh and home to around 150 monks who reside there permanently. Earlier, 400 monks resided in the monastery, many of which are now based in monasteries in the surrounding towns.
Structure of Lamayuru Monastery
The Lamayuru Monastery is built on the top of a steep hill overlooking the Lamayuru village so that you can see the gompa as you ascend your way up to your destination. A twisted path leads to the main door, adorned with a sequence of prayer wheels that locals refer to as “mani.”
The walls of the gompa are queued with antique portraits, and within the monastery premises, one can find the oldest monastery in the region. The monastery also contains the ruins of the 5 age-old temples that constituted the actual Lamayuru Monastery when it was constructed in the 10th century.
The Assembly Hall of the monastery is adorned with sophisticated Thangka craftwork. One can also find many more prayer halls and a school in the complex of the monumental monastery.
The Sengge Lhakhang is the oldest temple in the Lamayuru monastery. It contains rare Indo Tibetan sculptures of 4 Dhyani Buddhas (Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddha), Vairocana, Vajradhatu mandalas. These clay sculptures are painted in different colors and are seated on lotus thrones. The Vairocana sculpture is seated onto lions with sea monsters and a mythical bird surrounding its head, depicting how the temple derived its name.
A shrine called Gonkhang is situated adjacent to the main temple room. It is dedicated to the protector deities, including Lhamo Palmo and Mahakala (Fiercest Guardian Deity), Apshi ( Guardian of the Gompa), and Radha Shree (Founder of the religious sect of Lamayuru monastery). Several images are displayed in glass cases and beautiful sculptures made for Lamayuru festivals.
The Dukhang is situated on the right side of the courtyard. The temple entrance is painted with a colorful portrayal of the “Guardians of the Four Directions”. On the left wall, there are several rules for the lamas of the monastery. In 1970, the Dukhang was re-decorated with new column paintings.
On the right side of the Dukhang, a small cave called Naropa’s Cave contains a statue of Naropa, Marpa (Naropa’s student who was a famous poet and translator of religious texts), and Mila Raspa (Marpa’s student and head of Red hat sect of Buddhism).
Festivals in Lamayuru Monastery
Yuru Kabgyat: The most popular festival celebrated in Lamayuru is Yuru Kabgyat. Also known as the Lamayuru Festival, it is a two-day festival and takes place in the 2nd month of the Tibetan calendar. During the festival, lamas from all over the world, including Tibet, Bhutan, China, Japan, and Korea, visit the monastery to attend the festival.
The Yuru Kabgyat is also a major attraction for locals and tourists because of the cultural performances, traditional costumes, and local food that is offered during the ceremony. The monks display local instruments such as pipes, horns, and drums, which are played by experienced artists. The locals put on colorful dresses and perform sacred ceremonies, dramas, and masked dances depicting the life of Buddha.