Shey Monastery

Shey Monastery is about 15 Kms from Leh, it was earlier the summer residence of the royal family. This is located on the banks of the river Indus and is adorned with a number of shrines and stupas. The monastery has the statue of blue-haired Maitreya Buddha which is 17.5 metre high and made of copper and brass.

Situated in the upper parts of the Indus Valley, Shey is primarily famous for housing the Summer Palace of the kings of Ladakh. The Summer Palace, which was built over 555 years ago by the then king of Ladakh Lhachen Palgyigon, is also the home to the largest, gold-plated statue of Buddha in Ladakh.

The major attraction in the monastery is a huge gold-plated copper statue of seated Shakyamuni Buddha, which is also the second largest statue in Ladakh. In front of the statue, is a large wax bowl with a flame, which continuously lighted for a year, after which it is replaced.

Shey's Buddha statue was made in 1655 by a Nepalese sculptor who was assisted by three Ladakhi craftsmen. The castings of the statue were made in Leh while the statue's copper was collected in Zanskar and hammered into plates on big rocks. More than five kilos of gold were then used to plate the copper. The statue was built in parts in the Zanstil Palace ("Zans" means copper and "til" means to hammer) in Leh and then transported to Shey where it was assembled and installed. Sacrificial offerings such as grain or jewels, holy signs and mantras are contained inside the figure.

The most important moment in the construction of the Buddha figure is when the eyes are painted on, for this is the moment when the statue can "see". For this reason, the artist or monk will paint in a Buddha's pupils over his shoulder, with his back to the idol, for none would dare to look the Buddha in the eye.

Thiksey Monastery

The Thiksey monastery is situated in the Indus valley and is just 18 kms away from leh. The 12-storey monastery contains 10 temples with an assembly hall and living quarters for the monks and also a nunnery. The 40 ft high statue of Maitreya Buddha is the prime attraction here and is dedicated to the Goddess Tara. Other than these one can also see some rare, precious stupas, wall paintings, statues and swords in the monastery. The Ladakh travel guide lists some of the best monastries to be visited on your Ladakh Tour .

The most striking feature of the Thiskey monastery (the most and probably only integral part of the small town Thiskey) is its resemblance with the Potala Palace in the city of Lhasa, Tibet. The monastery is affiliated to the Gelugpa sect, and is a 12-storey high complex encompassing many traditional and contemporary artifacts and relics of Buddhism such as statues of Buddha, stupas, thangkas (a silk painting usually of a Buddhist deity), swords, and wall paintings.

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