Located 14 km southwest of Leh in the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir, Stok was the seat of erstwhile rulers of Ladakh. Also renowned for the 14th century Buddhist monastery, Stok attracts lots of trekkers too as it serves as the gateway to several high altitude trekking trails in Himalayas. Situated in a beautiful locale surrounded by Stok Kangri range, Markha and Indus valleys, Stok is a visual treat for visitors.
Stok was the erstwhile seat of the Ladakhi royal family. The Stok palace was built about two hundred years ago by king Tsepal Tondup Namgyal after Sikh general Zorawar Singh’s invasion of Leh. Descendants of the royal family still reside in the palace. The museum within the palace exhibits artifacts which enlighten visitors about the life of the Ladakh royals, their history, currency and weapons.
The 14th century Stok monastery , situated above the palace, was founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus and the monasteries follow the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Buddhism. The monastery has an assembly hall, a courtyard, a verandah, temples, chortens and a library. Stok monastery has many reasons to attract visitors including non-Buddhists. The ancient paintings on the wall that include images of Vajrapani, Avalokitesvara, Skayamuni (historical Buddha), Tara (the Saviouress), Nangyalma and Amchi (The Medicine Buddha) are intriguing. The library in the monastery has 108 volumes of the Buddha’s teachings.
The latest temple constructed in the monastery is dedicated to Avalokitesvara which is another major attraction for visitors. The image of the Avalokitesvara has 1,000 hands and 11 heads. The small chapel within the monastery is the oldest in the whole Ladakh region.
Stok Guru Tsechu festival is a great crowd puller. Everyone is allowed to be part of the celebration. Dance, music and festive foods make the celebration a memorable event.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN STOK
Accommodation is not available in the monastery or palace. You can stay with the locals in the village or in tented accommodation during summer. Leh and Shey are nearby places that offer accommodation for all budgets.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN STOK
Options to eat are limited in Stok. Hotels and restaurants are non-existent but small food stalls run by locals offer Tibetan or Chinese food.
BEST TIME TO VISIT STOK
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Stok is as given below. The best time to visit Stok is also specified.