Stok Gompa, Ladakh

Famous For :God Lovers, Nature Lovers

Fee :Adult : INR 50

Visiting Time :6am-1pm & 1.30-6pm

Duration of Visit :Around 2 to 3 hours

Stok Gompa, Ladakh

Stok Gompa : is a subsidiary of Spitok and both were founded by the same lama, Nawang Lotus, during the reign of King Takpa Bumlde. Stok belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism and currently has about 20 lamas living there. The oldest parts of the gompa are some 550 years old though the main Dukhang is only about 50 years old.

Entering the central courtyard with its tall prayer flag pole, the main Dukhang is up a short flight of steps. The entrance verandah has new and colourful mural paintings of the Guardians of the Four Directions. Inside, the Dukhang has been recently repainted and the room is decorated with numerous banners and thankhas.

The entrance wall on either side of the door depicts various guardian divinities. On the left side wall the central image is of Vajrapani (Vajra-In-Hand), while the image on the left is that of Avalokitesvara in his four-armed manifestation. Avalokitesvara is also known as the "Lord of All He Surveys" and is believed to be reincarnated in the Dalai Lama.

The right side wall has a central image of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) flanked by his two chief disciples. On the right is an image of Amchi the Buddha of Medicine (painted in red), flanked by Tara on the right and Nangyalma on the left. The front of the Dukhang has an image of Amchi on the left with a painting of Sakyamuni behind. The central throne is reserved for the Dalai Lama and the throne to the right is for the head lama of Stok gompa. On the right is an impressive image of Yamadhaka, a fierce guardian divinity.

There is a small chapel behind the Dukhang, entered through doors by the side of the throne seats. This chapel is the oldest part of the gompa. Its central image is of Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the yellow-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. To the right of this two-storey high image are three small statues: a yellow-hat lama and two of Sakyamuni. To the left of the central image is another yellow-hat lama, Avalokitesvara in his four-armed manifestation and Maitreya, the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion. By the wall on the right is an image of the gompa's founder, Nawang Lotus.

Leave the Dukhang and go immediately to the right through a low door. On the right is a small chapel with a row of Buddha images. These eight Buddhas depict the eight hand gestures of the Buddha. Unfortunately, the Buddhas are covered with cloth so most of the gestures are not visible. Masks used during Stok's January festival, are hanging from the pillars in this room.

Leaving this chapel, go up the stairs in front of it for two flights, emerging on a small upper courtyard. Straight across the courtyard area is a door leading to the head lama's apartment. It is decorated with several thankhas but is mostly notable for the intricate woodcarving on the two low tables in front of the seat.

After leaving this room, a door on the left side of the courtyard opens onto the gompa's library. This room has a complete set of the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of the Buddha's teachings. The image in this library is of Sakyamuni.

Return to the main courtyard and to the left of the Dukhang is a new temple dedicated to Avalokitesvara. This temple has a new and large image of Avalokitesvara with his 1,000 arms (to demonstrate his enormous strength) and eleven heads (nine Bodhisattva heads, one head angry at the suffering in the world and a Buddha head on top). On either side of this image are numerous small stucco images of lamas and Buddhas. In the wall opposite the entrance is a small cave-like opening through which one can see three statues of the Buddha. These images are actually inside the large chorten that stands behind this temple.

Tourist Attractions in Stok Monastery :

There are plenty of attractions that you can enjoy while you are visiting the Stok Monastery, including the Gautama Buddha statue, which stands some 71 feet and in the nearby temple. There is also the huge library that is full of volumes of the teachings of Buddha, which are called the Kangyur You can also visit the Stok Palace which is some 2 kilometers away from the monastery. The palace was constructed in 1820 is still the current summer home for the royalty from Ladakh of the Namgyal Dynasty. There is a museum inside the palace where you can view plenty of unique items, such as seals, weaponry, Buddhist art, thangka paintings and coins.

There are also plenty of treks that you can enjoy in this area while you are here, such as those in the Indus and Markha valleys along with the Stok Kangri mountain range. Also, while you are here you can enjoy staying with the locals since there aren’t any places to stay in the palace or even in the monastery. The locals in the village are more than happy to have you lodge at their homes or you can book some tents, which are popular in the summer.

How to Reach Stok Monastery ?

The best way to get to Stok Monastery is by taking a flight, train or bus to Leh. From Leh you can take an auto to the palace or to the monastery where you can walk around the area. You should make sure that you have a return trip or that you have booked a car or other method of transportation to get back home as well. You need to have your plans set in advance so that you can make time to get back, especially if you haven’t booked any rooms to stay in.

Best Time to Visit Stok Monastery :

If you are thinking about visiting the monastery, then you should know the best time to enjoy the area. There is a festival that is held either in February and March and it is one of the most popular festivals of the area. The festival is held on both the 9th along with 10th days of the starting months of the current Tibetan Calendar and everyone can participate in the festival, which includes festive foods, music and dancing. The ideal months to visit the area start in May and ends in October.