Published On: Wed, Nov 27th, 2019

The Buddhist Murals in Alchi, Ladakh

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The small Himalayan village of Alchi in Ladakh, India’s northernmost area, is known for unique Buddhist murals that date back to the 11th century. The murals are said to be the last few surviving specimens of Gandhara or Kashmiri Buddhist art, and they are amongst the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh. Sadly, the famous murals are being slowly destroyed by the harsh Himalayan mountain climate and lack of care.

Rare Kashmiri Buddhist Art in Alchi

The Alchi Gompa, or monastery, was founded in the 11th century by Ringchen Zangpo, “the great translator”, known for building several Buddhist monasteries in the area. In the village of Alchi, Ringchen Zangpo brought in dozens of artists from Kashmir to create Buddhist murals that adorn the walls of the temples here and depict Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, goddesses and demons.

At the time of Ringchen Zangpo, the areas of Kashmir and Ladakh were both Buddhist. When Islamic armies entered the Indian subcontinent, several Buddhist buildings and monuments were destroyed. Alchi escaped destruction, but its famous murals are now slowly vanishing for other reasons.

The Alchi Monastery in Ladakh

The Alchi monastery complex has two main temples: Alchi Du-khang and the Sum-tsek, as well as several smaller structures. The Alchi monastery is managed by monks from the nearby Likir monastery.

It is already clear that some of the murals in these temples will not survive much longer. Harsh mountain climate has had an effect on these paintings that have been neglected too long. Some of the murals have been restored, but the newer ones cannot be compared to the originals.

The Buddhist Murals in Alchi, Ladakh

Photography is not allowed inside the temples because it can damage the murals. Small donations are asked from temple visitors. As always, shoes must be removed before entering Buddhist temples.

How to Get to Alchi from Leh, Ladakh

Alchi is a small and pretty Ladakhi village at 3500 metres altitude in an Indus river valley. There are several nice guesthouses in the village, as well as restaurants and bakeries with cosy gardens surrounded by stunning mountain views. Alchi is about 60 km from Ladakh’s capital Leh on the road towards Kargil and Srinagar, and can also make an interesting daytrip from Leh by public bus or by a shared taxi. The mountain views on the way from Leh to Alchi are naturally gorgeous.

About the Author

- I am an internet marketing expert with an experience of 8 years.My hobbies are SEO,Content services and reading ebooks.I am founder of SRJ News,Tech Preview and Daily Posts.

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