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Ladakh History

India Buddhism BookingHistory : Ladakh’s earliest inhabitants were the Khampas, who were nomads. The first settlements, along the upper Indus, were established by Mons, Buddhist pilgrims on their way to India to Mt Kailash in Tibet. The Brokpa tribe, who still live there are the last indo-Iranian peoples to still follow Buddhism.

In the 9 th century many forts and palaces were constructed. In the 14 th century a Tibetan pilgrim, Tsongkhapa, introduced a Buddhist order headed by the first Dalai Lama. The new order came to be known as Gelugpa, led to the founding of gompas at Thikse, Likir and Spituk. During the 17 th century the royal family of Ladakh under the rule of Singe Namgyal assisted Brokpa monks in establishing gompas at Hemis and Stakna.

In between Ladakh had to face many outside attacks coming from Balti-Kashmiri army, Monglo-Tibetan army and others. But the Buddhist philosophy has been acting as a guiding force in the life of the Ladakhi people who have successfully preserved their valuable religious heritage.

India Buddhism BookingLadakh has one of the premier institutes in the Buddhist studies in the form of Central Institute of Buddhist Studies: Established in 1959, the institute was created by the combined effort of ten important Gompas of Ladakh. Indian Government since the time of Pandit Nehru, India’s first prime minister, is supporting the good work done by the institute in this field. The Institute currently offers courses from primary education to Doctoral Degrees and has 29 Gompas and nunneries affiliated to it. The Central Institute of Buddhist Studies is located in Choglamsar, about 8 kilometers from Leh.

Most of the Buddhist monasteries are concentrated in the major cities like Ladakh, Leh, and Zanskar. Some of the important monasteries in and around Ladakh are :

India Buddhism BookingThe monasteries have their own set of rules, which prohibit some actions inside the premises. Some precautions to be observed while visiting a monastery are :

  • Wearing shoes inside the prayer area is prohibited so visitors are required to take off their shoes before entering the prayer area.
  • Local dress codes, such as wearing clothing that covers your limbs should be observed to avoid hurting the religious sentiments of the people there.
  • Permission before taking photographs should be obtained always.
  • One should neither disturb the monks during prayers nor touch any religious artifacts inside the shrines.
  • Smoking, use of drugs or spiting in the monastery premises should be avoided at all costs.
  • Avoid talking loudly or disturbing the peaceful atmosphere
  • Most Gompas charge an admission fee of about Rs. 25. If a fee is not charged, it is considered appropriate to leave a donation for the maintenance of the monastery.
  • In many Gompas, you are expected to walk around the premises only in a clockwise direction.
  • Some monasteries do not allow women inside the inner prayer rooms. One should be careful of this fact.