Last updated on July 8th, 2018.
Ladakh is one of the most desired road-trip experiences in India. It has breathtaking landscapes, fascinating architecture, responsible lifestyle and a mix of Tibetan and Kashmiri cultures that makes it a curious destination to explore. But what if you don’t drive? Then you will definitely find next few posts handy!
You can travel through major part of Ladakh by combining different local community buses and shared taxis. In this post, I will tell you how to make a budget trip to one of the most popular Leh getaways – Thiksey Monastery.
Thiksey Monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Ladakh. It has twelve levels that include: ten temples, hall, home to monks, nunnery and numerous other parts of the complex. Located on the hill in the Indus valley, the monastery offers breathtaking views.
There is a history behind the name of the monastery. Back in the 15th century, Je Tsongkhapa – the founder of the Gelug School (also known as “the Yellow Hats”) sent six of his disciples to share the teachings in remote areas in Tibet. As a result, one of his disciples founded a small monastery in the village Stagmo. A half-century later it was decided to build a bigger monastery.
During some rituals performed near the Yellow temple, two crows took the plate with the torma offerings (these offerings were supposed to be thrown from the rock to the valley) and flew it to the other side of the hill.
While searching for the torma, the disciples reached Thiksey where they found offerings in the same undisturbed condition. It was perceived as an auspicious sign to start another monastery there. The monastery carries the same name as the village – Thiksey. Thiksey means “perfect order”.
Curious about Tibetan culture? Read about Bylakuppe – the second largest Tibetan settlement in India.
Some interesting places to visit in the Thiksey monastery:
- Maitreya Buddha – the largest statue in Ladakh. It is two storey tall.
- Tara temple – a small temple with murals dedicated to Goddess.
- Assembly Hall – you can see here the murals of Tibetan calendar.
- Nunnery – the school for nuns.
- Library – it has a big collection of books and manuscripts, yet it was closed during my visit.
- Rooftop – for breathtaking views
Where to stay in Thiksey Monastery?
Though Thiksey village is less than an hour drive from Leh, there are travelers who are interested to spend more time in the monastery to learn about Buddhism and monastery functions.
If you are planning to stay in Thiksey village, there are basically two options – the monastery or Chamba Hotel. The monastery offers basic rooms and food for a budget price. Chamba hotel is a mid-range option with a higher level of comfort. Though, it’s just near the highway. If you are a light sleeper don’t get roadside rooms. I haven’t stayed in either of these two options, thus can’t give any further recommendation.
Read also: How to find accommodation in India?
Where to eat in Thiksey Monastery?
There are two cafes in the territory of the Monastery – one at the top and one near the parking lot. The second one – Chamba hotel and Restaurant serves both separate dishes and buffet lunches. Food looked delicious and I found prices reasonable. If you plan to take food there, I recommend making your reservation once you arrive. During my visit, there was a big group of tourists that booked the whole cafe.
Shey palace might be more popular place among tourists because I’ve seen even a few street cafes in that area. If you visit only Thiksey, you can take light snacks with you and get lunch after returning back to Leh.
How to reach from Leh to Thiksey Monastery by bus?
Despite there is no direct bus from Leh to Thiksey Monastery, you can easily reach there with one interchange. The route is the following: Leh – Choglamsar – Thiksey.
There are regular buses (every 10 minutes in summer season) from Leh to Choglamsar. You can take a bus in Leh from the station opposite to Local Bus stand (coordinates: 34.155807, 77.583908). It takes 15 minutes to reach Choglamsar from Leh and the ticket costs 15 INR which you need to pay to the conductor on the bus.
Once you reach the bus stand in Choglamsar you need to cross the main road. From there the buses leave to Thiksey village once in half an hour. The ticket costs 20 INR to Thiksey. It takes around 20-30 min to reach by bus. If you choose a shared taxi from Choglamsar, it costs 50 INR per person.
The bus stops just near the entrance to Thiksey Monastery Complex at the main road. Leh to Thiksey monastery distance is 20 km.
Note: The bus will be crossing on the way Shey palace. If your final destination is Shey, it will take you 15 minutes and it will cost 10 INR to reach there by bus from Choglamsar.
Last tips to visit Thiksey Monastery
- Try to leave Leh early. If you visit the monastery during the morning hours, you might witness certain rituals. Also, I was traveling in low season, but even then there were some 40 visitors in the territory. Though the monastery is big, you want to avoid crowds. If possible, visit on weekdays.
- Cover your arms and legs if visiting in summers. Yes, it’s a touristic place, but proper dress code shows your respect towards other culture.
- If you come by bus, you will need to walk all the way up. It’s good for health 😉
- Photography is allowed, but be respectful.
- Thiksey Monastery works all the days from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m from May to November. The entry fee is 30 INR.
- The monstery is a half day trip from Leh together with transport. If you come by bus, calculate 1.5 hours for return trip plus 2 hours to explore the monastery if you go by foot.
Here you have a quick guide on how to explore Thiksey Monastery on a budget. Do you have any other tips? Feel free to share 😉