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Sankar Monastery
About Sankar Monastery

Sankar Monastery, or Sankar Gompa is a Buddhist monastery within an easy half-hour walk from Leh in Ladakh, northern India. It is a daughter-establishment of Spituk Monastery and the residence of the Abbot of Spituk, the honored Kushok Bakula, who is the senior personified lama of Ladakh due to his ancient lineage and personal authority.

Sankar Monastery is a quite modern, attractive cluster of buildings set amongst trees above the town, in the lee of Khardung La, a 5,359 m (17,582 ft) pass behind Leh leading to the Shyok and Nubra Valleys.

There are about 20 monks living at this place. Visiting hours are limited to early morning and evening. The place is well lit, so an evening visit is worthwhile. Climbing the steps one reaches the double doors leading into the dukang ('du khang) or assembly hall. Three green drums are on the right of the door under which is the place of the Gyeskos. The wall and entry door are richly painted. Upstairs is the Dukar Lhakang ("residence of the deity") or inner sanctuary. There is an imposing figure here of Avalokiteśvara (Tibetan: Chenrezig) with 1,000 arms (all holding weapons) and 1,000 heads. The walls are painted with a Tibetan calendar, mandalas and rules for the monks. Above the wooden stairs can be seen the rooms of the Abbot, guest rooms and the library.

A lama from Sankar Monastery visits the mid-sixteenth century fort built by Tashi Namgyal at Namgyal Tsemo, the peak above Leh every morning and evening to maintain the temples associated with the fort and light the butter-lamps.

Location of Sankar Monastery

Sankar Gompa is located about 3 km from the main city and is famous for its traditional architectural style. Inside the gompa, there is a figure of Avalokitesvara having 1,000 heads and arms. Sankar Monastery can be reached from Leh on foot. The visit time is limited to morning and evening.

Sankar Gompa is an ancillary of the Spituk Gompa monastery of Ladakh., it belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect. The monastery also serves as the official residence of the Ladakh's head of Gelukpa Sect, known as the Kushok Bakul. There are time restrictions for visiting the Sankar Monastery of Leh Ladakh. One can also go either between 7:00 am and 10:00 am, or between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. These restrictions have been placed because a few of the monks, of the yellow-hat sect, attached to the monastery reside here permanently.

Sankar Gompa is also an official residence of the Kushok Bakul, Ladakh’s head of this sect. The paintings of the Guardian of Four Directions are displayed on the entrance of the Dukhang on both sides of the door. The inside walls of the Dukhang are adorned with beautiful paintings of various Buddhas with guardian divine powers. A throne is also reserved for lama, the head of the monastery.

The steps at this monastery lead to double doors that are the means to reach 'Dukhang' or the assembly hall. On the right of the doors, there are three green drums along with a place of the Gyeskos. The walls of this monastery are painted completely with mandalas and a Tibetan calendar. Tourists can also visit library, guest rooms, and the rooms of Abbot that are located upstairs.

Dukhang (assembly hall) is to the right of the front yard of the monastery is the. Both the sides of its entrance are decorated with the paintings of the Guardian of the Four Directions. On the left wall of the entrance verandah is a "Wheel of Life", held by Yama. On entering the Dukhang, one will come across some relatively new paintings of various Buddhas, along with guardian deities. There is also a throne inside the Dukhang which is reserved for the head lama of the monastery. On the right-hand side of the throne there is an image of Avalokitesvara (Lord of All He Surveys), with 1000 arms and 11 heads.

The central image inside the Sankar Monastery is that Tsong-kha-pa who is the founder of the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism, along with his two chief followers. To the left of this image is another image of Avalokitesvara, again with 1,000 arms and 11 heads. And to its right is a case full of Tibetan bronzes. There are a number of other images also, like those of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha), The Present Buddha, Maitreya (the Future Buddha), White Guardian and Amchi (the Buddha of Medicine).

Dukar Lokhang, a temple devoted to the deity Dukar is diagonally opposite to the door, leading to the small inner courtyard of the monastery. The main image inside Dukar Lokhang is that of Dukar, inset with turquoise and shown with 1,000 arms, 1,000 feet, 1,000 heads, and 100,000 eyes. To the right of the image is a statue of Maitreya (the Buddha of the Future). Sankar Gompa also has the possession of Kandshur, the 108 volumes of Buddha's teachings.


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