The oldest monastery in Ladakh: Lamayuru, Jammu & Kashmir

Himalayan Travels, Ladakh

Lamayuru is a village in the Ladakh region in the northern most Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Lamayuru falls on the Srinagar-Leh highway and is predominantly a Buddhist village with around 242 houses. The houses here are generally made out of mud and have prayer flags around in the compound and terraces. The significance of the prayer flags is to show ones belief in Buddhism and its teachings. The village has a certain charm about being one of the oldest settlements in Ladakh.

The most famous attractiom in Lamayuru is the monastery which was founded in the 11th century by Naropa. Other than the monastery one can explore the village and the places around it on foot. The Lamayuru or Yuru monastery as it is often called is also one of the oldest and largest monasteries in the whole of Ladakh.

The word Lamayuru means eternal in the Tibetian language and hence the monastery is known as the eternal one. Every year during the second and fifth month of the lunar Buddhist calendar the monks perform a annual mask festival. The monks perform dances with colourful robes, masks and musical instrument that depict ancient Buddhist history and mythology.

Lamayuru is situated at an altitude of about 11,250 feet above sea level. It is situated at a distance of about 108 km from Leh and 308 km from Srinagar. To reach Lamayuru, one can either hire a private vehicle or take the state transport buses from Leh or one could also stop on the way from Srinagar to Leh.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Lamayuru owing to the increase in the number of tourists visiting Ladakh, every year. Most of these accommodations are generally basic village houses which have been converted into either home stays or guest houses. There are no luxury accommodations in the village.

The food options in Lamayuru are also not very diverse. One can mostly find only local food such as Chowmein, momo, dal, chapati, rice and vegetable with very less variety in other cuisines. Considering it is a Buddhist village the consumption of alchohol and meat is almost negligible although in a few restaurants one may find non-vegetarian food.

The climate is quite harsh in Lamayuru considering the fact that it is situated in a cold desert region of Ladakh. The days during summers are generally hot although the nights are quite pleasant. During the rest of the year the village receives heavy snowfall.

The climate here is generally windy, pleasant and extremely cold. The best time to visit Lamayuru is during the summer months of mid-June to mid-September. During the remaining part of the year, the roads are open but very subjective to road and weather conditions. A day trip or a night halt is more than sufficient to explore the village. 

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