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Hemis Monastery: Your Complete Travel Guide to Ladakh’s Spiritual Gem

Hemis Monastery Ladakh

About Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery is a location that seems to be a portal to another universe hidden amid the untamed beauty of the Himalayan highlands. This ancient Buddhist monastery is more than a place of spiritual solace; it’s a trip through time and culture. It’s hidden away in the tranquil surroundings of Ladakh, India. Join us on an expedition as we discover the enigma and appeal of the Monastery, a location where spirituality and spectacular natural beauty meet.

Hemis Gompa is about 45km from mainland Leh and is perched at more than 12,000 feet above sea level; it is a jewel in Ladakh’s crown and is renowned for its spiritual significance and mysterious past. Hemis Monastery is home to many fascinating and inspiring secrets, from the yearly Hemis Festival, which dazzles with vibrant masks and centuries-old traditions, to the dispute surrounding claims of ancient manuscripts. This monastery has everything you could possibly want, whether you’re looking for spiritual awakening, a close relationship with nature, or a window into the diverse culture of Ladakh.

Join us on this virtual journey as we explore Hemis Monastery’s many facets and give you a complete travel manual to ensure your unforgettable trip. Prepare to embark on a journey of discovery and introspection as we explore the spiritual treasure of Ladakh.


  • A dramatic focal point in the tranquil courtyard of the monastery, the shimmering golden stupa at Hemis Monastery is a sign of spiritual devotion. It can easily seen from a distance.
  • Within the assembly hall is a magnificent collection of ancient thangkas, scroll paintings that vividly and in-depthly illustrate Buddhist teachings and legends.
  • The annual Hemis Festival, featuring colorful masked dances and vibrant rituals, offers a unique opportunity to witness Ladakh's rich cultural heritage come alive.
  • The monastery's museum is home to a wide variety of Ladakhi antiques that provide visitors an insight into the history, culture, and arts of the area.
  • The Nyingma Lhakhang Temple is a place of peaceful devotion and is home to exquisitely painted paintings that depict the stories of Buddhist deities and heighten the monastery's spiritual atmosphere.

History of Hemis Gompa

Nestled in the heart of the Himalayan mountains, Hemis Monastery is a testament to Ladakh, India’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage. This ancient Buddhist monastery, believed to have been founded in the 11th century by the renowned yogi Naropa, has a history of mysticism and devotion.

Hemis Monastery is closely associated with the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, and it played a pivotal role in spreading the teachings of the Drukpa masters across the Himalayan region. Over the centuries, the monastery has been a center for meditation, learning, and spiritual practice, attracting scholars and monks from far and wide.

One of the monastery’s most significant historical events was the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, who is credited with introducing Buddhism to the region. The monastery’s annual Hemis Festival, celebrated with vibrant masked dances and rituals, commemorates his birth and attracts pilgrims and tourists alike. 

The Unknown Secret of Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery’s history is steeped in spirituality and shrouded in a fascinating tale of controversy and intrigue. In 1894, Russian journalist Nicolas Notovitch boldly claimed that the Monastery held the origins of a mysterious gospel known as the “Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men.” According to Notovitch, this gospel suggested that Jesus had ventured to India during his ‘lost years.’ His account stated that the manuscript had been carefully preserved within the Hemis library and that the monks had shared it with him during his stay at the monastery, where he was recovering from a broken leg.

However, doubts emerged as time passed and historians scrutinized Notovitch’s story. It is widely alleged that Notovitch later confessed to having fabricated the evidence, casting a shadow of doubt over his claims. Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman unequivocally stated, “Today there is not a single recognized scholar on the planet who has any doubts about the matter. The entire story was invented by Notovitch, who earned a good deal of money and a substantial amount of notoriety for his hoax.”

Yet, intrigue remains. Indian Pandit Swami Abhedananda also asserted that he had encountered the same manuscript during his visit to Hemis in 1921. He claimed to have read it with the assistance of a “local Lama interpreter.” However, after Abhedananda’s passing, it was revealed that the documents had mysteriously disappeared from the monastery, echoing the enigmatic nature of Hemis Monastery’s history. The story of the disputed manuscript continues to captivate scholars and enthusiasts alike, adding a layer of mystique to the monastery’s already complex narrative.

Architectural Marvel: Unveiling the Splendors of Hemis Monastery

As you step into the sacred precincts of Hemis Monastery Ladakh, one of the first things that captivate your senses is its remarkable architecture. This ancient Buddhist haven, nestled within the rugged Himalayan terrain, boasts a design reflecting spiritual reverence and historical significance.

Traditional Tibetan Influence

The Monastery’s architectural style is deeply rooted in Tibetan traditions. Its whitewashed walls intricately carved wooden windows, and colorful prayer flags fluttering in the mountain breeze create an enchanting visual harmony. The monastery’s structure seems almost like a natural landscape extension, blending seamlessly with the majestic mountains surrounding it.

The Courtyard and Assembly Hall

At the heart of the monastery lies a spacious courtyard, a serene oasis where monks engage in meditation and rituals. The monastery’s key buildings encircle the courtyard, including the grand assembly hall known as the Dukhang. The Dukhang is a magnificent structure adorned with traditional Tibetan motifs, elaborate frescoes, and a vibrant array of Buddhist thangkas (scroll paintings).

Hemis Gompa Assembly Hall

Intricate Details

Take a closer look at the architecture, and you’ll be amazed by the level of detail. The wooden beams and columns are often adorned with intricate carvings, each telling its own story from Buddhist scriptures. The windows, too, are not mere openings to let in light but are elaborately designed with geometric patterns and mythical symbols.

The Golden Stupa

One of the most striking features of Hemis Gompais is its golden stupa, or chorten, which stands tall and gleaming in the courtyard. This iconic structure symbolizes the monastery’s spiritual significance and devotion to the Buddha’s teachings.

The Hemis Monastery Golden Stupa

Monastic Cells

As you explore further, you’ll encounter the monks’ living quarters, known as monastic cells. These simple yet functional rooms provide a glimpse into the daily life of the resident monks and their commitment to a life of spiritual practice.

Hemis Monastery’s architecture isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of Tibetan Buddhism and the cultural heritage of Ladakh. The intricate craftsmanship, serene ambiance, and natural beauty make this monastery a true architectural marvel, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in its visual and spiritual splendor.

So, as you walk through the labyrinthine corridors and courtyards of Hemis Gompa, don’t forget to pause and admire the architectural wonders that have stood the test of time, serving as a bridge between the earthly and the divine.

How to reach Hemis Monastery Leh

Ladakh’s closest airport to Hemis Monastery is Leh’s Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, around 60 kilometers away. Frequent flights connect Leh from key Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Srinagar.

Upon your arrival in Leh via air, it’s advisable to take a day for acclimatization before embarking on your journey to the Monastery.

You may click here to learn more about how to get acclimatized in Leh. 

Visit by Car

The Monastery can be visited by hiring a car from the Local Taxi Union or via Road Expeditions. We will guide you for the complete tour along with other nearby places to visit. 

Visit by Bike

You can hire a local bike from Leh or we can deliver the bike to your hotel. You may then Manali Leh Highway to reach the Monastery. 

Best time to Visit Hemis Monastery

The ideal time to explore Hemis Monastery is from May to October, spanning the warmer months when Ladakh enjoys its most favorable weather conditions. The roads leading to Ladakh are open during this time, making it the perfect window to visit this captivating region.

Essential Information

A few essential pieces of information when you are planning a visit to the monastery in Nubra Valley. 

Best time to Visit Hemis Monastery

You can plan your visit to the monastery between May and October when the weather is warmer, and the roads are accessible.

Entry Fee for Hemis Monastery

The entry ticket for the Monastery is Rs 50 Per Person for both Indian and foreign nations. 

Visiting Hours of the Hemis Monastery

The Hemis monastery is open from 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Distance from Leh to Hemis Monastery

The Monastery is just about 40 km from Leh town. 

Altitude of the Hemis Monastery Ladakh

The monastery is located at situated at an altitude of 11,800 ft (3600 meters).

Network Coverage at the Hemis Monastery

Airtel, Jio, and BNSL Postpaid mobile network work here in Hemis. 

Inner Line Permit for Hemis Monastery

  • The Monastery is Located about 40 km from Leh.
  • YES, the inner line permit is required to visit the monastery.

Best Itinerary for Hemis Monastery

The monastery is located about 20km from Leh city and can be combined in either of the itineraries of your choice based on your tour. 

Itinerary 1

Visit the Monastery in Local Sightseeing

  • Enjoy a hearty breakfast at your hotel to kickstart your day.
  • Depart for Hemis Monastery, located about 40 kilometres from Leh.
    Explore the monastery’s architecture, art, and spiritual ambience.
    Immerse yourself in the history and culture of this ancient site.
  • Depart from the Gompa and continue your journey towards Leh. 
  • En route, Visit Thiksey Monastery, often called “Mini Potala” due to its architectural resemblance to the Potala Palace in Tibet.
  • Explore Shey Palace, known for its historical significance and a large golden Buddha statue.
  • Discover the lovely Druk White Lotus School, made famous by the Bollywood film “3 Idiots.” 3 Idiots School.
  • Enjoy a delicious lunch at Leh Market, a bustling Ladakhi food and regional goods marketplace.
  • Visit the Shanti Stupa, a Buddhist stupa offering a peaceful atmosphere and panoramic views of Leh Valley.
  • Explore the Leh Palace, an architectural gem that offers insights into Ladakh’s royal history.
  • After a fulfilling day of exploration, return to your hotel in Leh.


Itinerary 2

Visit Hemis Gompa with Pangong Lake

  • Following a refreshing breakfast, embark on your journey towards Leh.
  • As you descend from the Chang La Pass on your way to Leh, visit the Hemis Gompa. 
  • You may also stop at Shey Palace, Thiksey Monastery, and the famous 3 idiot Raancho School. 

NOTE: Please start from Pangong by 9:00 AM to complete the tour. 


Accommodations Near Hemis Monastery

The following are a few known places to stay near the Monastery. 

However, we recommend you stay in Leh as the monastery is just 40km away, and one can have more options of Guest houses, Budget hotels, Luxury Hotels, and Resorts. 


What is Hemis Monastery, and where is it located?

Hemis Monastery is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries located in Ladakh, India. It sits nestled in the Himalayan mountains, approximately 40 kilometers southeast of Leh. 

When is the best time to visit Hemis Monastery?

he best time to visit Hemis Monastery is during the summer months, from June to September when the weather is pleasant, and the Hemis Festival usually takes place.

What is the significance of Hemis Monastery?

  • Hemis Monastery is of great spiritual and cultural significance.
  • It is the largest and wealthiest monastery in Ladakh and is associated with the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The monastery is known for its annual Hemis Festival, celebrating the birth of Guru Padmasambhava.

Are there photography limitations in the monastery?

Photography is not prohibited. Obtaining permission before snapping photos within the monastery or of the monks is polite. Some locations forbid photography, especially during celebrations.

Can I join the monastery's daily prayers?

Tourists can observe daily rites and prayers, but only monks and dedicated Buddhists can participate. Visitors should watch quietly and politely.

Are there any accommodations near Hemis Gompa?

  • Yes, there are a few guest houses nearby for a night stay near the monastery. 
  • Also, Accommodation is available within the monastery itself. 

What are the major attractions near Hemis Monastery?

Ladakh is home to several stunning attractions. You can explore the nearby Thiksey Monastery, Shey Palace, Hemis National Park, and many other natural and cultural wonders.

What is the ideal time of day to visit the monastery?

Early in the morning or post, 4:00 PM in the evening is the best time to visit the monastery. 

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