The Likir Monastery also known as Likir Gompa is a Buddhist monastery in the Union territory of Ladakh, Northern India. It is situated at an elevation of 3,700 m and is approximately 52 kilometers west of Leh, Ladakh. The main attraction of the monastery is the 75 feet high statue of Maitreya Buddha gilded in gold.
The gompa belonged to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and was founded by Lama Duwang Chosje in 1065, under the direction of Lhachen Gyalpo (fifth king of Ladakh). The monastery is beautifully built on a small hill in the Likir village near the banks of the Indus river, about 9.5 kilometers to the north of Srinagar – Leh highway. Although the Likir village is secluded, it was once a major trade route traveled by Hemis, Tingmosgang, and Likir to Leh.
The Likir monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh and has many stories of its existence and origin. It offers panoramic views of the surreal landscape and the snowcapped Himalayan mountains. The natural beauty of the nearby surroundings attracts numerous visitors across the globe. While visiting this monastery, make sure that you also visit the small villages near the gompa as they offer amazing views for flawless photography.
Likir Monastery Travel Guide
We have compiled a detailed travel guide in this blog post for exploring the Likir Monastery in the best possible way. It will cover all the vital information, including transport, accommodation, food options, and all the prominent attractions to see in the awe-inspiring monastery.
Our travel guide will help you plan a remarkable and unforgettable trip if you plan a trip to Likir Monastery. Our team of trusted specialists from Ladakh offers customized tour packages at discounted prices to all our valued customers who wish to spend a marvelous vacation in Ladakh. If you have any queries about Likir Monastery, please get in touch with us. Get the most suitable deals to explore Leh in our Leh Ladakh Tour Packages.
Highlights of Likir Monastery
- 75 feet statue of Maitreya Buddha
- Painting, thankas, and murals
- Hand-painted mandala (Wheel of Life)
- Gonkhang Temple
- Monastery Museum
- Dosmochey festival
Itinerary Guide – How to plan your Itinerary for Likir Monastery
Planning a perfect Itinerary for the Likir monastery without an expert guide is not easy. We have built an Itinerary with our trained professionals and arranged a trip to Likir monastery to share our awe-inspiring experience with you. We hope this guide will help you learn all about Likir monastery to plan your trip easily.
Preparing for Likir Monastery Trip
We booked a cab early in the morning and started our journey towards the Likir monastery. Numerous scenic attractions marked the road between Leh and Likir, and the snowclad mountains made a remarkable contrast with the clear blue skies in the background. The beautiful landscape seemed like a beautiful fantasy, with white-streaked mountains standing in the distance.
At some point, the mountains seemed so close that we felt we could actually touch them. The monasteries and houses of the local people were artistically carved along the slopes of these mountains. While driving right next to the Indus river, we even got to see the Confluence of the Zanskar and Indus river. As we neared our destination, Likir monastery, we came across what appeared to be terrace-like structures along the mountain slopes.
Reaching the Monastery
We crossed a golden-colored gate and entered the Likir village a while later. Finally, we reached the monastery and walked the rest of the distance until we entered the gate of the monastery. There was a giant red-colored prayer wheel and several small prayer wheels inside the monastery. As we went up the monastery, we noticed the whitewashed walls and wood-paned windows, which is the usual design of Ladakh monasteries.
Dukhang or Assembly Hall
After climbing up to the central courtyard, we reached the main assembly hall of the monastery. The entrance was painted with guardians of the four directions on the other side of the door. To the right of the verandah, a Wheel of Life was guarded by Yama, the deity that determines a person’s fate after death.
There were also six rows of seats for the monks, and this is where they take their meals and perform their daily prayers. Numerous thangkas were hung on the walls of the Dukhang, and two large chortens stood at the front of the hall. The chorten, on the left, had a statue of Avalokitesvara, and on the right had a statue of Amitabha.
As we moved further, a historical statue of Sakyamuni Buddha and Maitreya Buddha was placed in the center of the hall. To the right of these statues was a statue of Tsong Khapa with his two disciples, and a throne in the center of the hall was reserved for the head monk of the Likir monastery.
We entered the red doors of the Gonkhang temple, where we could see numerous red pillars and colorful thangkas. The walls were painted with Buddhist deities, symbols, and the ceilings hung with Tibetan Buddhist paintings on pieces of cloth. Several Bodhisattvas or guardian deities were displayed beautifully in a mirror case at the center. A rare Jupiter tree was also placed in the courtyard of the monastery.
Afterward, we headed towards the monastery museum, where some Buddhist artifacts, ancient thankas, and Buddhist literature were put on display. Meanwhile, all the lamas set out to have their lunch in the monastery kitchen, where they were served rice, dal, and mixed vegetables.
Maitreya Buddha Statue
As we walked out of the monastery, we came across the monastery’s main attraction, the statue of Maitreya Buddha. The colossal Buddha statue was seated on the roof of the monastery. We leisurely strolled around the monastery and caught some fantastic views of the Likir village.
Next to the monastery, a small trek path led us to old Likir that housed numerous whitewashed chortens. The scenery from this point, the lush green farmlands, and the towering mountains in the backdrop were simply breathtaking.
Although Likir village is located slightly off the beaten track, there is a lot to see and do in the nearby surroundings. The village is scenic, and the monastery itself is a testimony of rich cultural and religious prominence. You can have a great time exploring the natural beauty, panoramic landscape, and tranquility of the Likir village and monastery.
So, the next time you plan to visit Ladakh, make sure to visit the Likir Gompa. We hope this detailed travel guide will help you plan an incredible trip with your family and friends.
Best time to visit Likir monastery
The best time to visit the Likir monastery is from May to September. The weather is pleasant and suitable for traveling during these months. However, if you are interested in the Buddhist culture, you can visit the monastery during the Dosmochey festival. It is celebrated annually in the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. The festival involves ritualistic dances, food, music, traditional sports, and much more.
The roads to Ladakh via Srinagar and Manali remain closed from November to April due to heavy snowfall. Therefore traveling via flight is the only option to reach Leh and then further to the Likir monastery during the winter months. But please ensure that you can endure the harsh weather while witnessing the beauty of Ladakh in winter.
Hence, the best time to travel to the Likir monastery is the best time to visit Ladakh. You can read the Best time to visit Ladakh for more detailed information on this topic.
How to reach Likir Monastery
The Likir monastery has emerged as one of the top things to see in Ladakh in recent years. It can be covered from Leh or when you are going to Leh from Kargil. The easiest way to reach the Likir monastery is to arrive in Leh by air and then hire a cab to reach the Likir monastery. The monastery is also connected through state-run buses, so you can use other forms of public transport to reach the Likir 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 to reach your guesthouse or hotel in Leh and then plan a day trip from Leh to Likir monastery and some other nearby attractions.
- Cabs / Bus: You can hire a cab from Leh and take the Srinagar-Leh highway to reach the Likir monastery. If you are traveling from the Manali side, you can still reach the monastery by taking the Leh-Manali highway and traveling further to the Likir monastery.
You can also plan to travel by bus, but then you might need to hitchhike about 9 kilometers before the Saspul diversion point on the Srinagar-Leh highway. You need to take the right turn from this point and then travel about 5 kilometers to reach the Likir monastery.
- Train: Jammu Tawi is the nearest major railway station at 812 kilometers from Leh, Ladakh. You can hire a taxi from the Jammu railway station to reach Leh. It is a 3-day journey if you plan to stop overnight at Srinagar and Kargil. Or you can stay at Likir monastery also after Kargil if you are cautious about the AMS issue.
To get more detailed information, look at this blog post, How to Reach Ladakh.
Likir Monastery Timings and Entry Fee
- The opening hours of the Likir monastery are from 8 am to 5 pm every day.
- The monastery does not charge any entry fee, but you need to pay 20 rupees for entering the monastery museum.
Accommodation at Likir Monastery
There are a few homestays and guesthouses in Likir village where you can plan to stay overnight. Since the village is located at a lower altitude than Leh, many people prefer to stay overnight in these homestays after flying to Leh for better acclimatization.
Moreover, you can also visit and explore the local attractions in the famous Sham Valley, including Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Magnetic Hill, Basgo Plains, and Confluence of Indus and Zanskar Rivers. It is recommended to start early morning from Leh for an entire day trip to the Sham Valley attractions.
Food Options at Likir Monastery
If you plan a day trip to Likir, we will suggest you have your meal at Nimmu village, where plenty of local shops is available on the way. Some restaurants offer very nice authentic Tibetan food and snacks. The Nimmu village is located on the way to Likir, about 34 km from Leh, and it is an hour’s drive from Nimmu to Alchi.
You can also have your meal upon reaching Likir village. There are some eateries and tea shops in the village and near the monastery as well.
Likir Monastery Travel Tips
- Acclimatize yourself well on the first day of your arrival in Leh.
- You should be aware of AMS symptoms (Acute Mountain Sickness) as it may hit even the most experienced travelers. So, prepare yourself for the extreme climatic conditions before commencing your journey.
- Apply a good amount of sunscreen to protect your skin from the high-intensity UV rays.
- On sunny days, make sure to wear your sunglasses.
- Carry 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, take a look at our blog post Things to Carry for Ladakh Trip.
- Note that there are limited food options near Likir monastery. So, it is advised that you carry enough food and water if you do not like the local food offered at the restaurants.
- You can also visit the monastery museum, which is pretty small but well maintained by the administration. The entry fee for the museum is 20 rupees per person.
- Subscribe for Airtel, Jio, or BSNL postpaid numbers as other networks do not receive signals in Ladakh.
Please read the World health organization’s travel advice before traveling anywhere.
Read Indian Government travel guidelines.
History of Likir Monastery
As mentioned in the Ladakhi chronicles, the Likir monastery was established by King Lhachen Gyalpo (1050-1080 CE). Initially, it was associated with the early Kadampa order of Tibetan Buddhism before its transformation to the Gelugpa orders. However, the monastery that stands today is not the original form constructed in the 11th century. It was reconstructed in the 18th century after it got ruined by fire.
The monastery is home to approximately 120 Buddhist monks and has a school with thirty students. It is managed by the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, and the students are taught in Hindi, Sanskrit, and English languages.
The Likir monastery is also known as “Lu Khyil” (water spirits circled). It owes its name to the water spirits called Nagas, who once lived there. It is said that the fifth king of Ladakh, Lhachen Gyalpo offered the land to Lama Duwans Chosje for building the monastery in 1065. In the 15th century, the monastery joined the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Assembly Hall of the monastery contains the Shakyamuni, Maitreya Buddhas of the present, past, and future, and an imposing statue of Kangyur, Tsong Khapa, and Tangyur. There are some life-like paintings of the Tung-Shah in the Nyenes Khang.
The Gonkhang houses the statue of Se Ta Pa (Protective deity) and Yamantaka. The monastery is the seat of the present emanation of the brother of the Dalai Lama. Although he is not permanently settled here, he attends the important festivals and rituals of the monastery.
The Architecture of Likir Monastery
The architecture of the Likir monastery is a classic example of a fortress-type monastery. The gompa has two assembly halls called Dukhangs. The earlier one is situated on the right side of the central courtyard and consists of six rows of seats for the monks and a royal throne for the Head monk of Likir monastery.
The Dukhang contains statues of Amitabha, Maitreya, Bodhisattva, Sakyamuni, and Tsong Khapa (Founder of Yellow Hat Sect). On the roof, a 75 feet (23 meters) high statue of Maitreya Buddha, gilded in gold, was built in 1999. The monastery is a storehouse of ancient manuscripts and has a significant collection of old costumes, thankas, and earthen pots.
The bookcases standing beside the statue contain volumes of the Sumbum, portraying the teachings and life of Tsong Khapa. On the right wall, an image of Sakyamuni with his two chiefs by his side, and on the left wall, the picture of the 35 Confessional Buddhas is displayed.
A ladder inside the hall leads to Zinchun (Head Lama’s room), which contains images of monks, thankas, the consort of Avalokitesvara, and the 21 manifestations of the White Tara. The Gonkhang was built in 1983 after the gompa underwent renovation and was completed after a year. Several thankas of the divinities are displayed on the walls of the Gonkhang.
Festivals in Likir Monastery
Every year the Dosmochey Festival is celebrated with great vigor from the 27th to the 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar. During the festival, votive offerings are made, and also the monks perform colorful masked dances as a part of the ritual. Besides, the festival attracts many visitors, both tourists, and locals.