Thiksay Gompa or Thiksay Monastery is a gompa (monastery) affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located on top of a hill in Thiksey village, approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh in Ladakh, India. It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh, notably containing a separate set of buildings for female renunciates that has been the source of significant recent building and reorganisation.
The monastery is located at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) in the Indus Valley. It is a twelve-story complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. One of the main points of interest is the MaitreyaTemple installed to commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to this monastery in 1970; it contains a 15 metres (49 ft) high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, covering two stories of the building.
Steps on the right side in the main courtyard leads to the new temple that houses a huge statue of Buddha. The statue was built at the behest of His Highness, the Holy Dalai Lama, when he visited the monastery in 1980. The staue, 15 m tall, is the largest Buddha figure in the Ladakh and took around four years to build. Local craftsmen used clay and gold paint to make this image of Maitreya Buddha or the Future Buddha. Directly above this temple, there is a small room where lamas impart education to local boys. Some of these boys are later chosen to become lama
Coming back to the main courtyard, the steps directly across the new temple will lead upto a wall with murals of two Tibetan calander with Wheel of Life. To the right of this wall is the main prayer room consisting of many handwritten and painted books. A small room right behind the main prayer room houses a huge image of Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha). Two smaller image of Bodhisattava are placed on its side. To the left side is the eleven headed Avalokitesvara. The Lamokhang temple on the rooftop is the place where only males are allowed to enter. The Thiksey library, a repository of numerous volumes, including Kangyur and Stangyur, is also on the top. Currently, the monastery, home to around 80 monks, is the main monastery for atleast ten other significant monasteries of Ladakh. Prominent amongst these are Diskit, Spituk, Likir, and Stok.
The annual festival of Thiksey is celebrated in the 9th month of the Tibetan Buddhist calendar. The festival is marked by the famous as well as sacred mask dance or Chham.
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