Welcome to Gujarat


North India

South India

East India

North East











Bird Watching





Special Tours

Train Tours





Car Rental

View All Tours


North India Tours

Impressions of Ladakh

Highlights  North India

North India By Road

North India & Nepal

Temple Tour in India

19 Days Buddhist Tour

North India with Puri

Temple Tiger Tour

Adventure Tours

Himalaya Trekking

Rafting on Ganges

River Rafting

Rajasthan on Bicycle

Biking in Sikkim

India River Rafting

Cycling in Ladakh

Tons River Rafting

Ladakh Biking Tour

Garhwal Trekking

River Rafting Tour

Trekking in Ladakh

Indus River Rafting

Safari Tours

India Bhutan Jeep Safari

Camel Safari Tour

Rajasthan Heritage Safari

Rajasthan Desert Safari

Rajasthan Horse Safari 

Himachal Jeep Safari

Travel Guide

Indian Architecture 

Indian Embassies

Flight Sickness

India Information

Nepal Information 

India Geography

Indian History

Media in India

 Modern History

Music in India

Musical instruments

Paintings of India

Reaching India



Shopping in India


Temperature Guide 

Visa Information

Indian Wildlife

India Tours

31 Days Rajasthan

30 Days Gujarat 

26 Days South

19 Days North India

18 Days Rajasthan 

17 Days South

16 Days Shekhwati

14 Days North India

13 Days Sikkim

11 Days Nepal

9 Days Ladakh

8 Days Taj Triangle

4 Days Tibet

Karsha Monastery
About Karsha Monastery

Karsha Monastery or Karsha Gompa is a Buddhist monastery in the Padum Valley of the Zanskar region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India. The Doda River flows past the monastery from its source at the Drang Drung glacier of the Pensi La (14,500 feet (4,400 m)). It was founded by the translator, Phagspa Shesrab.The monastery, also known by the name “Karsha Chamspaling’, was founded by Phagspa Shesrab, under the Gelugpa Order or the Yellow Hat Order.

The Karsha Monastery of Ladakh is located in the Karsha village of the Zanskar region. The full name of Karsha, the largest monastery of Zanskar, is Karsha Chamspaling. Phagspa Shesrab, this monastery was first founded by the translator of Zanskar.The monastery, as it stands today, was the result of the efforts of the Teacher, Dorje Shesrab. It was under him only that the monastery flourished and prospered. Shesrab Zangpo of Stod was the one to introduce the Gelukpa Order in the Karsha Gompa of Leh Ladakh.

The monastery consists of lots of temples and boasts of some of the most wonderful wall paintings, by the Lama Dzadpa Dorje. The collection of Karcha Gompa also includes the bone relics of Dorje Rinchen. It serves as the residence of approximately 100 monks. The Gustor Festival is celebrated at Karsha every year, on the 28th and 29th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar. The celebrations also include the performance of the sacred dance.  

Temples constructed by Rinchen Zangpo, the translator, known as the Thugsjechhenpoi Lhakhang and the Lhakhang Karpo, are positioned near the Karsha Monastery. Also close by are the monasteries of Khagsar, Purang and Phagspa and a nunnery called Dorjezong, located at the top of the valley.

History of Karsha Monastery

Karsha is the largest and most significant monastery in Zanskar. It is attributed to Padmasambhava, and there are ancient rock-carvings at the site. The oldest remaining structure, an Avalokiteshvara temple, Chuk-shik-jal, contains wall paintings which seem to link it with the era of Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055).

The monastery is under the charge of the younger brother of the Dalai Lama. Behind his seat in the chapel is a statue of Lhaso Cho Rinpoche, which was brought from Lhasa in the 1960s and has a golden crown with turquoise and carnelian decorations. The most  significant festival, known as the Karsha Gustor, is celebrated with masked cham dances on the 26th to the 29th day of the 11th Tibetan month, which is usually in January. 

Mons of the Khesa race were dominant in the past in the region of western Himalayas. The Mons have been Buddhist in the region from the time of the Kushan dynasty, established by Emperor Kanishka. Mons are the main population in the village in the Zanskar valley and said to belong to an Aryan race connected to Kaniskha’s period as their features do not match with that of the local tribes or with the Mongolians. Mons are credited with building 30 monasteries, chortens and temples, including the Kursha Monastery in the main Zanskar valley; some of the other monasteries built by them are the: Teta, Burdal, Muni, Phugtal, Pune, Padum, Togrimo, Tondhe, Pipting, Sumda, Zangla and Linshot.Gelugpa monastery is another important monastery that is situated in Khursha village, which has a superb display of mural arts.

Structure of Karsha Monastery

Karsha monastery, the largest monastery of Zanskar, has lot of shrines and has been decorated with beautiful paintings done by the Lama Dzadpa Dorje.It also houses the relics of Dorje Rinchen. 100 monks live in this monastery. The popular festival held in the monastery grounds is called the Gustor festival, which is celebrated between the 26th and 29th day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar, when events such as the sacred masked cham dance take place. The monastery also has bone relics of Dorje Rinchen and serves as the residence of approximately 100 monks.

Other temples built close to the monastery are Thugsjechhenpoi Lhakhang and the Lhakhang Karpo. Other Monasteries in the vicinity are the Phagspa Monastery , Purang Monastery and Khagsar Monastery. A nunnery known as 'Dorjezong', is situated at the top of the valley. In the nunnery, a holy image of 11-headed Avaloketeshvara is deified. 

In the Karsha monastery there is a cloth painting, unfolded by the Lamas, which is intricately decorated in gold and colourful threads on an orange cloth, which depicts Buddha surrounded by his tutelary deities.

"Karsha was built against the craggy hillside like a massive white fortress, with deep-set, black-edged windows. From a distance, village, gompa and mountainside were merged together,It was a medieval world. Lamas of all ages gossiped and giggled, lounging on the steps in front of heavy wooden doors with iron studs. In the evening sun the angles of the roof and squared lintels cast black-and-white shadows in geometrical patterns. Mastiffs still sheltering from the day's heat stretched out in shady corners squalid with gompa debris - old bones, pieces of cloth, and the odd tattered boot. Despite the midsummer warmth the old lamas' maroon cloaks were of heavy tweed. The cheeky, shaven-headed boys wear their cotton cloaks slipped off one shoulder and their yellow hats at a rakish angle.

Lamas wearing red and yellow robes and brocade hats sat in lines to sing the evening prayers. Serving lamas, two to each heavy copper kettle, moved up and down pouring salt tea. Ibex heads looked down from the ceiling, and there was a banner which depicts  running deer, yaks and a leopard, partially hidden by dust and cobwebs. Murals illuminating scenes from the life of the Buddha glowed with rich pigments, and multicoloured tsampa and ghi offerings were displayed.The last rays of the sun glinted off the gold brocade in the altar cloth and off the rows of thankas. Images of the Buddha, three times the size of man, stood above the altar, dominating the theatrical scene. Trumpets blasted, cymbals clashed and conch shells were blown through cupped hands, the sound escaped through the closed windows and curtained doorways into the courtyards and out across the valley."


A Chorten in the grounds of the Kursha monastery houses the mummified body of an incarnate lama called the Rinchen Zangpo and sealed in a wooden box with silver lining. Chortens represent not only various stages of the spiritual attainments of Sakyamuni Buddha, as a memorial structure but also interns the physical body of Buddha kapala. In the dome of the chorten, in addition to confining the mortal remains of lamas and saints, it is also said that their spiritual elements are infused in them. Chorten is identified with a wonderful human body.


Karsha is at the confluence of the Lungtsi river, which raises from the Lingti peak of Doda basin that forms the Zanskar River. Zanskar takes a turn at Karsha and flows in a northwesterly direction to join the Indus River at Nyemo. Below the Khlangpu peak (5,160 metres (16,930 ft)) of the Zanskar hill range, the river flows in deep ravines near Karsha monastery. It is in this stretch of the Zanskar river in the Lungti and the Doda valleys that there is a maximum awareness of villages.

Visitor information

It is a highly honored monastery in Khurshan village, which is 14 kilometres from Padum village. The village has a market, a dispensary ,school, and post and telegraph offices. Interesting information for visitors to the village is of the facilities available for river rafting in the Zanskar river; it is a five hours ride on a very rough river, in the gorge portion of the Zanskar river called the "Grand Canyon" of Asia, in freezing cold conditions. The rafting starts from Remala and ends in Karsha village near Padum (30 kilometres (19 mi)) rafting in the river in ‘Rapids of Class II category’ considered appropriate for beginners); after completing the rafting, a short walk from the camp would lead to the Karsha monastery for an evening prayer. Zanskar valley is closed from November to May due to heavy snow conditions.

Leh is the nearest airport; while Srinagar is also another airport that could be used. Kargil (6 kilometres (3.7 mi)) from Pakistan border) is at a distance of a 240 kilometres (150 mi)) from Padum, which is a further 14 kilometres (8.7 mi)) away from the monastery.



Tours all over India – Nepal and Bhutan Home Mail to tourism expert of India e-mail  Online chat regarding travel and tours to India Chat Get contact information to Indian Tour Operator and Travel Agent Contact  Send your enquiry or tour request. Enquiry  Tour and Travel experts for India and Indian sub-continent About Us

Your feedback about travel and tours to India and Indian sub-continentFeedback


Visit the site map of Indo Vacations Site Map India related and other useful links Links

Copyright © Indo Vacations. All Rights Reserved.