Karsha Monastery near Kargil

Buddhist values are ingrained in the culture and lifestyle of Ladakh region. Despite being highly populated by Muslims, Kargil district has some of the most ancient and majestic Buddhist Monasteries. It is evident in the famous Karsha Monastery located in Zanskar region of Kargil. This monastery near Padum is also the largest and most prosperous gompas and monasteries.

Monasteries in Kargil and Zanskar

From its architecture to picturesque location, everything is so mystical about this monastery. It certainly deserves a vosit whenever you happen to be in the region of Kargil and Zanskar. This monastery of Gelugpa Order (Yellow Hat Order) is also called by the name of Karsha Chamspaling. It was founded way back in 11th Century by a noted translator, Phagspa Shesrab. Currently, it is under the younger brother of Dalai Lama.

History of Karsha Monastery near Kargil

Karsha Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in this region. As such, it beholds many golden leaves of the past in its existence. Since its establishment, it has been an important seat of Buddhist learning in this region. It is dedicated to Lord Padmasambhava. It has ancient carvings and wall paintings, some of which are exquisite and reminiscent of ancient arts flourishing in Kargil region. The oldest temple in this complex is 300 years old and dedicated to Lord Avalokiteshwara. It has beautiful wall paintings related to the time of 10th Century.

Heritage and History of Karsha Monastery

The buildings in this complex were built over several centuries. The place was set up as a prominent seat of Buddhist learning by the masters like Thapuva Gyaltsen, Tungpa Gyaltsa Pa, and Dupkhang Guelek Gyatso. There are many legends famous about this monastery. One of them tells about Panchen Lama who designated his best scholars from Karsha Monastery to spread Buddhist teachings in Kham and Amdo regions. These scholars impressed many villagers with their teachings and brought many accolades to their monastery. These monks were called as Alaks or Precious Lamas by the local people. It also has many temples and chortens realted to people from Khesa race believed to be the ascendants of Aryans who adopted Buddhism under Kanishka Dynasty.

Structure of Karsha Monastery near Kargil

As the largest monastery of Zanskar, Karsha encompasses many temples, chapels, chortens, and paintings. All these make it a landmark of Buddhism in this region. The paintings in this monastery include some of those made by Lama Dzadpa Dorje. One can also watch the relics of Dorje Rinchen here.

Structure of Karsha Monastery near Kargil

The entire complex has many chapels, temples, and assembly halls. It houses around 150 monks in their white washed residences. The assembly halls of this monastery are located in the center. They are surrounded by three chapels. These chapels have many beautiful art paintings and idols of deities. Some temples are 300 years old, although they are partially damaged now. There is a nunnery in this monastery. This Chomo Gompa was built during 14th century and called as Dorje Dzong. Apart from all these, there is a huge library and beautiful Thanrang in Karsha Monastery. Also, it houses many precious thangkas and other precious scrolls.

There is a chorten near this monastery. It has the mummified body of Lama Rinchen Zangpo. The silver lining on this chorten was ransacked during Indo Pak war. Underneath this lining, there is wooden framework. The same is renovated now.

Events at Karsha Monastery near Kargil

The most famous event of Karsha Monastery is Gustor Festival held here annually. It is celebrated from 26th to 29th day of 11th month in Tibetan calendar. Generally, it falls in January. The festival is marked by the Cham or masked dance of resident monks.

Events at Karsha Monastery near Kargil

Where to Stay in Karsha near Kargil

Travelers can take a halt at dormitory of monastery. It is offered at nominal fees. Also, there are accommodations at JKTDC bungalow and 3-Star hotels in Padum.

Best Time to Visit Karsha Monastery near Kargil

This monastery is located at elevation of 14500 feet above the sea level. Hence, the winters are never favorable to visit this place. You should plan your trip in the months of July to September. During these months, the roads and passes become motorable and accessible for the vehicles. Due to heavy snow fall in months from November to March, the entire regions remains cut off from the mainland.

How to reach Karsha Monastery in Kargil

How to Reach Karsha Monastery from Kargil

To reach Karsha Monastery, private taxis and buses are easily available from Kargil city. If you wish to reach there by air, the nearest airports are situated in Leh and Srinagar. Padum is the nearest spot to reach this destination from Kargil. Padum is 14 km away from Karsha and 240 km from Kargil.
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