One of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh, Lingshed Monastery located in Zanskar region of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. Surrounded by mountains, the Lingshed Monastery is situated in Lingshed village about 224 km southwest of Leh on the trekking trail from Lamayuru to Padum Zanskar. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
Founded by Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche, the monastery is home to 60 monks. Founded in the 1440s, Lingshed Monastery is also known as Kumbum which means ‘A Hundred Thousand Images’.
Lingshed Gompa is headed by Ngari Rinpoche, the younger brother of Dalai Lama. When the Dalai Lama visited the Lingshed Monastery in 2009, he stayed in the monastery for a night, blessed the land and spoke of important teachings to the monks and other people of the Lingshed region.
There is a huge prayer hall in the monastery known as Dhoklang. In the hall, there is a statue of Buddha, Mahakala and Yamandhaka along with many other deities and over 200 volumes of Tangyur books. The monastery also houses temples, stupas, statues, murals and manuscripts.
There are six shrines inside the monastery along with kitchens, store rooms and an apartment that was used by Ngari Rinpoche and today it is where visiting lamas stay for the duration of their visit. The monks’ quarters spread outward from a central point below the main temple complex.
The main deities of the Lingshed Monastery and the surrounding regions are Yamandhaka and Mahakala. Metriya Jamba, the future Buddha, can also be seen in the Gompa. Yamandhaka is covered with a veil which is removed only once a year on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Tibetan year. Pilgrims and tourists visit the monastery in huge numbers during this time to worship and to catch a glimpse of the deity.
The monks that reside in the monastery educate others on modern education and Buddhist philosophy with ritual prayers. All sacred rituals in the monastery and in the surrounding regions of Lingshed are performed by these monks.
The Lingshed Village has been inhabited for almost one thousand years and it was popular in the past as a hunting village which was a source for the name, Lingshed. The village has been the location for many Buddhist monasteries. Remnants of a cave monastery and two walls dedicated to Rinchen Zangpo found in Lingshed.
According to folk tales, there were more monasteries belonging to the Kadampa and Drukpa Kagyu sects. The village is marked as ‘Linshot’ in all early maps.
Basic accommodation is available in the monastery. Budget and mid-range hotels are available near the monastery. If you are looking for luxury hotels, then head to Leh, 224 km away.
Options to eat are limited at Lingshed village. There are small outlets in the village which provide Indian and Tibetan food.
The best time to visit the Lingshed Monastery is between May and September.
Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
BEST TIME TO VISIT ZANSKAR
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Zanskar is as given below. The best time to visit Zanskar is also specified.