Sankar Monastery – Facts, History and Complete Travel Guide

The Sankar monastery or Sankar Gompa is an admirable Buddhist monastery located approximately 3 kilometers from Leh town, Ladakh, northern India. The monastery is believed to be a subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa and serves as the residence of the abbot of Spituk, the eminent Kushok Bakula. The Kushok Bakula is the head of the Gelugpa Sect and senior incarnate monk of Ladakh because of personal authority and his ancient lineage.

The age-old Sankar Gompa is home to different attractions that represent the heritage and history of the conventional building, it is an ideal place for those people who have a passion for exquisite art and culture. The panoramic view of Namgyal Tsemo Hills from the monastery is spectacular. The monastery is built at a picturesque location surrounded by barley fields and looks glorious when lit up at night.

Sankar Gompa Wall painting

History of Sankar Gompa

The Sankar Monastery belongs to the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is the residence of 25 monks of the Gelugpa sect out of which only a few are permanent residents of the monastery. Although the ancient Sankar monastery is believed to have been built 90 years ago, it stands on the location of a small temple constructed around 500 years back. 

Structure of Sankar Gompa

The architecture of the Sankar monastery is relatively modern. It is an attractive group of buildings set amongst green fields above the Leh town. The monastery is built in the lee of Khardung La Pass behind the town of Leh leading to the Nubra Valley and Shyok River Valley. It is beautifully lit at night, so a visit to the monastery in the evening hours will be worth it.

The entrance of the monastery leads to the Dukhang or Assembly hall adorned with extraordinary sculptures and artifacts depicting the Buddhist religion. Numerous paintings of Buddha are also hung on the walls of the hall that appear extremely fascinating. The presence of beautiful paintings and murals radiate positive energy in the monastery complex thus encouraging a person to explore more about the monastery.

A throne inside the Assembly hall is reserved for the head monk of the monastery. Three green drums are kept to the right of the door and the Gyeskos are placed under these drums. The entry door and the room are also painted with intricate illustrations and murals.

Sankar Gompa

Dukar Lhakang (Inner Sanctuary)

The Dukar Lhakang or the residence of the deity is built upstairs. One can find an impressive figure of Avalokitesvara with 1,000 heads and 1,000 arms all holding weapons. The walls of the room are wonderfully painted with mandalas, a Tibetan calendar, and rules for the lamas. Climbing the wooden stairs one can see the room of the Abbot, library, and guest rooms also.

Every morning and evening a lama from the Sankar monastery visits the Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, a fort built by Tashi Namgyal at Namgyal Tsemo. He makes sure that the temples are properly maintained and also lights the butter lamps of the monastery.

Sankar Monastery Travel Guide

We have compiled a comprehensive travel guide in this blog post for exploring the Sankar Monastery most conveniently. It will cover all the vital information, including transport, and all the famous nearby attractions to see while visiting the spectacular monastery.

If you are planning a trip to Sankar Monastery, our travel guide will help you plan a fabulous and unforgettable trip. Our team of dedicated professionals from Ladakh offers customized tour packages at discounted prices to all our customers who wish to spend an amazing holiday in Ladakh. If you have any queries related to Sankar Monastery, feel free to contact us. 

Get the best deals to explore Leh and nearby attractions in our Ladakh tour packages.

Highlights of Sankar Monastery

  • Statue of Avalokiteswara
  • Dukhang or Assembly hall
  • Dukar Lhakang or inner sanctuary
  • Monastery Library

Itinerary Guide – How to plan your Itinerary for Sankar Monastery

Planning an Itinerary for the Sankar gompa without an expert guide might not be that easy. We have built an Itinerary with our qualified specialists and planned a trip to the Sankar monastery to share our fabulous experience with you. We hope this guide will help you know all about the Sankar monastery to plan your itinerary easily.

Preparing for Sankar Monastery Trip

We booked a cab and started our journey downhill from our hotel. Initially, we had planned to take a break near the banks of the Indus river but decided to cancel it for the much-awaited breakfast at the Leh Main Market. 

Drive through the Indus Valley

Driving through the Indus valley plains was an absolute visual delight for our souls. The dryness of the grey peaks was tinged with bright shades of greenery from countless trees that were barred high above on the way to Sankar Gompa. The leaves of the trees had already begun to turn yellow and orange declaring the beginning of the harsh winter. 

The hills surrounding us were giving a shady rugged look edged by distant snow-bound peaks far away from our reach. The clear sky above us was wonderfully blue with tinges of white clouds touching the faraway mountain peaks. The roads were absolutely beautiful beside the mighty Indus river flowing towards the Leh town.

Breakfast at Leh Market

Speeding through the road leaving the Indus valley behind, we reached the Leh town. Another 5 minutes drive led us right into the Market. There were several food joints, restaurants, and shops having almost everything for day-to-day essentials. We had our breakfast in one of the restaurants and headed towards the Sankar Gompa.

Reaching the Sankar Gompa

The well-maintained road led on the hillock us to the entrance of the Sankar monastery. We entered the monastery and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by whitewashed chortens and stupas. The sight of the monastery complex was a treat for our eyes. It was now the time to explore the interior of the monastery. 

sankar monastery resting place

Entering the Sankar Monastery 

We climbed the staircase and entered the monastery complex. There was an Assembly Hall (Dukhang) situated on the right side of the front yard of the monastery. The entrance was decorated with the picture of the “Guardian of the Four Directions.” There were numerous new paintings of Buddhas along with the Guardian Deities. 

As we proceeded further towards the verandah, we came across the “Wheel of Life” held by a Yama. A royal throne is also kept in the hall which is reserved for the chief lama of the monastery. To the left of the throne was a painting of Avalokiteswara with 1000 heads and 1000 arms.

There was a picture of the founder of the yellow hat sect of Buddhism, Tsong Khapa along with his two disciples. On the left was a painting of Avalokiteswara and on the right was a box full of Tibetan bronzes. Several other images such as Sakyamuni Buddha (Historical), present Buddha, Maitreya Buddha (Future), Amchi (Buddha of Medicine), and White Guardian were also displayed on the room walls.

Dukar Temple

After a while, we headed towards the inner courtyard of the monastery where the Dukar temple was located. The temple was dedicated to the Dukar deity and also housed an image of Dukar with 1000 arms, 1000 heads, 1000 feet, and 100,000 eyes. To the right of this image was a majestic statue of the Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of Future) that created a mesmerizing ambiance in the temple.


Although Ladakh is famous for its unique landscape and magnificent lakes, a trip to Ladakh is incomplete until you have visited some of the famous monasteries. The Sankar monastery is also one of the monasteries that hold a place of special importance among the locals. It is intricately designed, elegantly built, and rich in Buddhist culture. The breathtaking natural beauty of the monastery will give you a break from your dull life and rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul.

We hope this travel guide will help you plan a memorable journey with your family and friends. So, the next time you plan a trip to Ladakh, make sure to visit the Sankar Gompa and explore the region’s rich culture and history.

Best time to visit Sankar monastery

The best time to visit the Sankar monastery is from May to October. The climate is pleasant and appropriate for traveling during these months. However, if you want to attend monastic festivals, the perfect time to visit would be July and August. 

The routes to Ladakh via Manali and Srinagar remain blocked from November to April because of heavy showers and snowfall. Therefore traveling via air is the only alternative to reach Ladakh and then to Sankar monastery during the winters.

Hence, the best time to travel to the Sankar 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 Sankar Monastery

The easiest way to reach the Sankar monastery is to arrive in Leh by flight and then book a taxi or a cab to reach the Sankar monastery. The monastery is also well connected through local buses, so you can use other forms of public transportation to reach the Sankar monastery.

  • Flight: Leh Airport – Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the nearest airport linked with some of the major airports in India. You can hire a taxi from the airport to reach your hotel in Leh and then arrange a day trip from Leh to Sankar monastery and some other nearby attractions.
  • Cabs / Bus: The local cabs and buses function well in the Ladakh region during the summer months. You can hire a cab from your hotel or walk for half an hour from Leh to reach the monastery.
  • Train: Jammu Tawi is the closest major railway station from Leh. You can book a cab from the railway station to reach Leh. It is a 3-day journey if you stop overnight at Srinagar and Kargil. After reaching Leh, you can hire a cab to reach the Sankar monastery, as mentioned above.

If you want to get detailed information about this topic, look at this blog post, How to Reach Ladakh.

Sankar Monastery Timings 

The opening hours of the monastery are from 7 am to 10 am and 5 to 7 pm every day, including national holidays and Sundays. 

Food Options near Sankar Monastery

The Sankar monastery is located only a few kilometers from the Leh Main Market. There are many restaurants and food joints that serve local authentic food and Indian foods. The meals prepared in the restaurants are quite hygienic and you can choose from a variety of traditional dishes giving an excellent dining experience.

Accommodation near Sankar Monastery

You can also explore the nearby tourist places like Zorawar FortJama MasjidLeh Palace, Namgyal Tsemo, Hall of Fame, Spituk Gompa, and other attractions on the same day. It is recommended that you set off early morning and return to your hotel by evening.

There are several accommodation options in the Leh town near Sankar Gompa. You can choose to stay in any of the hotels in Leh, close to the Sankar monastery.

Sankar Monastery Travel Tips

  • Rest as much as possible on the first day of your arrival for better acclimatization.
  • Apply good sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • You should be mindful of the signs of Acute Mountain Sickness as it may impact even the most experienced travelers. Harsh climatic conditions can be challenging, so be prepared before starting your journey.
  • Wear your sunglasses on sunny days.
  • Bring some warm clothing 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.
  • Time restrictions have been placed for visiting the Sankar monastery. Please note that you can visit the monastery only between 7 – 10 am and 5 – 7 pm.
  • You should wear conservative clothes and respect the rules of the monastery.
  • You can take photographs of the scenic views from the monastery. However, you should ask before clicking a picture of any monk.
  • You can find petrol pumps in Leh near Sankar Gompa. 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 Leh. As the monastery is situated near Leh, these networks will work fine at the monastery also.
  • Book your flight tickets in advance, as the prices would hike during the peak season in 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.

Nearby Attractions

Leh Palace4.9 km15 min
Zorawar Fort3.8 km10 min
Jama Masjid1.9 km7 min
Leh Main Market3.6 km12 min
Namgyal Tsemo4 km10 min
Central Asian Museum1.5 km5 min
Shanti Stupa1.8 km5 min
Hall of Fame6.8 km15 min
Spituk Gompa9.2 km18 min
Shey Monastery16km30 min
Thiksey Monastery22 km37 min


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About the author

Sam K. Pandepa is a travel enthusiast and right from the early years, he had a thirst for adventure. he likes to explore and document new places, trek in the mountains, and share his travel experiences with other travel enthusiasts. His vision is to explore and document new trails, hike in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking. He loves sharing his Himalayan experiences and motivating people with his travel stories. When not traveling, he likes to spend time with like-minded travel enthusiasts and read books on travel and mountaineering.