Hemis Monastery

  • imageLeh
  • Ladakh

Brief Introduction of Hemis Monastery Ladakh

The most popular monastery, Hemis Gompa is also dubbed the richest monastery in Ladakh. Situated around 45 km away from the capital city, Leh, Hemis Monastery is known for its annual 2-day religious event, Hemis Festival. The major attraction during the festival is the unfurling of the giant thangka (religious painting). In fact, every 12 years, during the Hemis Festival, one of the largest thangkas in Ladakh is unfurled infront of a large crowd.

Hemis is a 17th century Buddhist shrine which was re-established in 1672. This famous monastery in Ladakh is of the Drukpa Lineage of Buddhism. The gompa near Leh has a museum that houses a wide collection Tibetan books, Thangkas, gold statues and Stupas embedded with precious stones, weapons, carriers, and even a stuffed vulture pup.

History of Hemis Monastery

The history of Hemis Monastery states that it is considered to have existed before the 11th century. The monastery of Hemis is connected with Naropa, the pupil of the yogi Tilopa, and teacher of the translator Marpa. It is believed that Naropa and yogi Tilopa met at Hemis and together from here they proceeded to the ancient kingdom of Magadha.

Naropa was the founding father of the Kagyu-lineage of the Himalayan esoteric Buddhism. Therefore, Hemis Monastery is the main seat of the Kagyu lineage of Buddhism.

Architecture of Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery

The architecture of Hemis Monastery is of Tibetan style. The main building of Hemis Monastery has white walls. The entrance to the Hemis Monastery complex is through a giant gate that opens to a large courtyard. On the northern side are two assembly halls, and the guardian deities and the Wheel of Life are situated here. The monastery also has a library on its premises.

Major Highlights of Hemis Monastery

  • The oldest part of the monastery is called the Nyingma Lhakhang.
  • The main prayer hall of the monastery
  • Stagsan Raspa seated on a throne in Nyingma Lhakhang
  • Golden statue of Shakyamuni in Dukhang Barpa
  • Guru Padmasambhava in Guru Lhakhang
  • Museum

Best Time to Visit Hemis Monastery


The best time to visit Hemis Gompa is during the two-day Hemis Festival, held annually in the month of June or July. One can witness Cham Dance during the festival and the display of age-old Thangkas (religious paintings).

How to Reach Hemis Monastery?

Hemis can be easily reached by a cab or hired bullet/bike from Leh. The distance is about 45 kms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How far is Hemis from Leh & what is the best way to reach?

Hemis Monastery is situated at a distance of 45 km from Leh. Hiring a cab or renting a bike are the best ways to reach here.

Q. Is there a festival to see in Hemis Monastery?

Yes, Hemis Festival is an annual event during which the traditional Cham Dance and unfurling of the largest thangka (every 12 years) in Ladakh can be seen in Hemis Gompa.

Q. How old is Hemis Monastery & which sect of Buddhism does it belong to?

Hemis Monastery is a 17th century monastery. It comes under Drukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Q. What is the major attraction in Hemis Monastery?

The oldest part of the monastery along with the museum and the Hemis Festival are the major attractions of Hemis Monastery.

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