The Thiksey monastery is located on top of a hill some 11,800 ft above sea level in the Indus Valley east of the city of Leh in Ladakh, India. The monastery is a 12 storey complex that houses Buddhist artifacts such as stupas, statues, and thangkas, and is the largest in the central Ladakh district in Jammu and Kashmir. It was founded in the early 15th century by Tsongkhapa a member of the Yellow hat sect. Tsongkhapa founded the Gelugpa School and sent six of his disciples out to the far reaches of Tibet to spread his teachings.
Thiksey is known for its intense Ladakhi architecture and hard to reach location. The location was chosen for several reasons, but is believed to have been inspired by a ritual that took place all those years ago. It is said that the founders, Jangsem Sherab Zangpo and his disciple, Palden Sherab were offering a prayer with the traditional ritual cake just a few miles away from the spot where the monastery was eventually built. During their prayers a crow flew by and stole the cake during the ritual and when they rediscovered it the cake was laying atop the mountain where the monastery stands today. Zangpo and Palden took it as a sign and that is why the monastery is named Thiksey, which means in perfect order.
The prominence of the monastery is well documented and seen throughout the Tibetan Buddhist community as one of the best places to worship. In fact, the monastery is second only to the Hemis Monastery and is a magnificent example of the art of the 14th century. Thiksey is home to over a hundred monks, 10 different temples, and ancient relics. A two storey tall statue of the Buddha was created to commemorate the visit of the Dalai Lama in the 1970s. It is one of the top attractions for tourists and took four years to build out of clay. Once the structure was built it was painted with gold paint and filled with the canonical texts.
In addition to its spiritual enlightenment, the Thiksey monastery provides free education for children from poor families, along with food and medical assistance. A feature found within most Buddhist temples of any substantial size.
If you choose to visit the Thiksey monastery you will be greeted with an array of buildings nestled in the side of a mountain overlooking the Indus valley. The assembly hall, Tara temple, and Lamokhang temple are the main buildings of importance at Thiksey, and involve the greatest amount of detail. The journey to the Thiksey monastery is a short one but it is sure to make an impression on any visitor that chooses to make it.