Takthok Gompa, Ladakh

Famous For :God Lovers, Nature Lovers

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

Duration of Visit :Around 2 to 3 hours

Takthok Gompa, Ladakh

Tak Thok Gompa : is situated some ten kilometers further up from Chemre in the Chemre Valley. The Rimpoche or head lama of Tak Thok is from Tibet and is highly respected by Ladakhis. The gompa houses about 55 lamas of the Nying-ma-pa sect of Buddhism, also known as the "Old Order". Members of this sect are followers of Padme Sambhava's teachings and Tak Thok is the only gompa in Ladakh that follows this order. The name Tak Thok in Ladakhi means "Rock Roof" and refers to the cave chapel found in this unusual gompa. Entering the main courtyard, one is immediately struck by the rock outcroppings that surround the gompa. Indeed, the wooden front of the chapel is only a front for the cave behind it and most of the gompa consists of rooms hollowed out of the stone cliff either by nature or man. The cave chapel is to the left as one enters the central courtyard. A small anteroom to the cave chapel has been recently painted with the Guardian Divinities of the Four Directions. In the front of the cave chapel are images of Padme Sambhava and Avalokitesvara (analogous to the Hindu god Shiva and easily recognizable by his eleven heads and 1,000 arms). Behind this image is a small locked door leading to the small cave where Padme Sambhava is supposed to have lived and meditated for three years. This cave is not open to the public. The low roof of the chapel is the stone of the cliff.

Leaving the cave chapel, go up a flight of stairs and on the right will be the Kandshur Lha-khang.Tak Thok GompaThe Kandshur is the 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings and a complete set of this important religious work is found in this temple. There are also statues of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) with his two chief disciples by his side. The walls are decorated with murals of guardian divinities. Opposite the Kandshur Lha-khang and to the left is a small chapel containing religious books and four small statues of Lord Buddha.

Returning to the central courtyard, the Dukhang or main assembly hall will be on the right (the same side as the courtyard entrance). The verandah entrance to the Dukhang has beautiful new murals of guardian divinities. These murals are covered by cloth all year, except during the gompa's festival, in order to preserve their colour but just lift the cloth up to admire the workmanship.

In the Dukhang are several rows of low seats for the lamas. Opposite the entrance is a throne seat reserved solely for the Dalai Lama, who visited Tak Thok in 1980. To the left of this throne seat is a wall painting of Padme Sambhava and on the right is a painting of Sakyamuni.

On the right wall towards the front is a glass-fronted case of small, colourful sculptures made of butter mixed with barley flour. To the right of this case are three large statues. From the left, they are Maitreya (the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion), Padme Sambhava and Dorje Takposal (a manifestation of Padme Sambhava). The other walls are newly painted with depiction of guardian divinities done by the same Ladakhi artist who painted the topmost temple in Chemre. Across the central courtyard from the Dukhang and behind a low wall is the gompa's kitchen. It is interesting chiefly for its location under the overhanging rock face.

Tourist Attractions in Takthok Monastery :

There are plenty of attractions that you can enjoy at Takthok monastery, including exploring the caves. The most popular thing that draws in tourists is the 108 volumes that the library holds from the teachings of Buddha, which are called Kanjur. There is also a new temple that was dedicated during 1980 by the 14th Dalai Lama. There is also a Padmasambhava based mural that is close to the throne along with another painting on the left side of Sakyamuni. There is also a cave chapel that is very popular along with another small cave that is believed to be the location that Padmasambhava resided as well as meditated for 3 years.

Not only can you explore the various caves, but you can also trek around the mountains that are nearby and enjoy the great view. There are also festivals that are popular and bring in plenty of tourists during the year and the cave kitchen is put into use at this time as well.

How to Reach Takthok Monastery ?

Since this monastery is only 46 kilometers from Leh the best way to get here is to first reach Leh. You can reach Leh by taking a flight, bus or train to the city and then you can get to the monastery by car. You can rent a vehicle or bring your own personal one, if you have driven to the area. Make sure that if you are renting a vehicle that you have one that knows the roads and that can take you there and back without any problems.

Best Time to Visit Takthok Monastery :

If you want to enjoy some of the festivals in the area, then you need to visit during the summer time, which is when the festival was shifted to for the tourists. The festival occurs on the 9th and 10th days of the Tibetan calendar’s 6th month and sacred dances are seen at this time. If you are interested in experiencing the culture of the area, then this is the perfect time, but there are plenty of other times when you can come as well. The summer is an ideal time to visit the area since there is longer day light and you will be able to experience the caves in their full form. The monsoons are not the best time to visit due to the rains, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly since the caves can flood.