June 2012
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Alchi – a village and monastery in Leh district of Ladakh region In J&K.

Alchi is a village and monastery in the Leh district of Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. This village is situated on the bank of Indus River 70 km downstream from the capital in Leh. Unlike the other gompas in Ladakh, Alchi is situated on lowland and not on a hilltop.
The village is famous for the existence of one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh (a national heritage) Alchi Monastery. This monastery is mainly known for its magnificent and well-preserved 11th or 12th century wall paintings which are all in an Indian style.
Alchi is a small village with all modern facilities for overnight stays. Alchi is a comfortable place which is situated in the heart of the Himalayas.
Chos-khor, or “religious enclave”is at Alchi which is 70-km west of Leh houses an extraordinary wealth of ancient wall paintings and wood sculpture. This is miraculously preserved for over nine centuries inside five tiny mud walled temples.

Art historians rave about the site as its earliest murals are the finest surviving examples of a unique style. This style flourished in Kashmir during the “Second Spreading”.
Alchi is the most impressive and the least remote and the only place where one doesn’t need a special permit to visit.
It is nestled beside a bend in the milky blue river Indus. The Chos-khor consists of five separate temples, various residential buildings and a scattering of large Chortens.
There are two oldest buildings, the Du-khang and the Sumtsek, both in the middle of the enclosure. Entrance tickets are issued by a caretaker lama from nearby Likkir Gompa.

Must Visit Places in and around Alchi

1. The Du-Khang
• An inscription records that Alchi’s oldest structure is the Du-Khang.
• It was erected late in the 11th century by Kaldan Shesrab.
• This has a walled courtyard and a path that runs under a hollow Chorten.
• This is a square temple’s wooden doorway is richly carved with meditating Bodhisattvas.
• Check out the niche in the rear wall where Vairocana, the “Buddha Resplendent”.
• The four main Buddha manifestations that appear all over Alchi’s temple walls are presented in their associated colors.
• The colors are: Akshobya (“Unshakable”; Blue), Ratnasambhava (“”Jewel Born”; Yellow), Amitabha (“Boundless Radiance”; Red) and Amoghasiddhi (“Unfailing Success”; Green).
• The other walls are decorated with six elaborate Mandalas.

2. The Sumtsek
• This temple stands to the left of the Du-khang.
• It is the Alchi’s most celebrated temple.
• It is also the highest achievement of early medieval Indian Buddhist art.
• Its woodcarvings and paintings are dominated by rich reds and blues.
• These colors are almost as fresh and vibrant today as they were 900 years ago.
• The squat triple storeyed structure was built.

3. Other Temples
• The Manjushri La-khang is noteworthy only for its relatively recent “Thousand Buddha” paintings and gilded four-faced icon of Manjushri.
• Next door, there is Lotsawa La-khang, with its central image.
• Mural of Shakyamuni, is one of a handful of temples dedicated to Rinchen Zangpo, the “Great Translator”.
• The La-khang Soma, the small square shrine south of the Sumtsek, which is decorated with three large Mandalas and various figures including an accomplished Yab Yum.

Places to visit around Alchi

• Shey
• Thikse
• Hemis
• Images, murals, and carvings of Buddha

Other cities of Ladakh that one can visit

– Kargil
– Leh
– Turtuk
– Ladakh

Must visit places in Ladakh

• Monasteries
• Polyandry
• Primogeniture
• Khangbu
• Sculpture at Drass
• Rock Cut Sculpture at Mulbekh.
• Lamayuru Monastery.
• Likir Monastery.
• Alchi Monastery
• Phyang Monastery.
• Hemis Monastery.
• Leh Palace.
• Old Castle Tsemo Hill.
• Stupa at T- Suru.
• Shey Palace
• Nubra Valley
• glacial himalaya
• Changthang (Nyoma Division)
• Pangong Lake
• Tsomo Riri Lake
• 9-storey Leh Palace
• Stok Palace Museum
• Central Institute of Buddhist Studies Choglamsar
• Mosque and Moravian Church at Leh
• Trekking

Flora and Fauna

A total of 225 species have been recorded.
• Brown-headed Gull
• Brahimini duck
• Ruddy Sheldrake
• Barhead goose
• Black Necked Crane
• Tibetan Raven
• Red-Billed Chough
• Snow-cock
• Chukor
• Lammergeier
• Golden Eagle
• Bharal, or Blue Sheep
• Shapo, or Urial, is a goat
• The Argali or Nayan
• The Chiru, or Tibetan Antelope
• The Kyang, or Tibetan Wild Ass
• The Snow Leopard
• Lynx
• Tibetan Wolf
• Brown Bears
• Marmots
• Voles
• Hares
• Several types of Pika

Sights and Activities

1. Monasteries and other Architecture
• Many monasteries celebrate their annual festivals in winter.
• Monasteries have a wealth of artifacts.
• Lamayuru is the oldest religious center of Ladakh.
• Wood carving, statues and frescoes are unique.
• The wealth of its possession and its annual summer festival make Hemis the most popular.
• Thiksay rates high in terms of architectural impact.
• The beauty of the festival performances at Likir and Phyang should not be missed.
• Shey, Spituk and the Sankar monasteries are very beautiful.

2. Events and Festivals
• Hemis, which falls in late June or the first half of July, and is dedicated to Padmasambhava.
• Festivals at Lamayuru (also early July).
• Phyang (Late July or early August).
• Tak-thok (about tend days after Phyang).
• Karsha in Zanskar (11 days after Phyang).
• Spituk, Stok, Thiksay, Chemrey Matho all have their festivals in winter, between November and March.
• Likir and Deskit (Nubra) time their festivals to coincide with Dosmochey, the festival of the scapegoat.
• Falling in the second half of February, Dosmoche is one of the two New Year festivals, the other being Losar.

Best time to visit / climate

• The best time for a visit is from June to September.
• For snowboard joys, December to March is the best time.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get there?

• One bus per day leaves Leh for Alchi in summer.
• It takes three hours to cover the 70-km and returning early the next day.
• Other buses heading in that direction leave Leh at 6.30 am (for Kargil) and 9.00 am (for Dah-Hanoo).

1. By Air
• Leh is the nearest airport from Alchi, which can be reached by either bus or taxi.
• Alliance Air flights connect Leh with Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu, and Srinagar through regular flights.

2. By Road
• Alchi is connected to Leh through regular buses.
• Taxis are also available on hire to reach Alchi.
• The Alchi-Manali road is one of the two major road networks that connect this place with the rest of India.
• This is the world’s second highest motorable road, reaching 5328 m at Taglang La.
• The road is usually open between the months of June and mid-October.

3. To reach Ladakh
• Buses run directly to Leh from either Manali or Srinagar.
• Daily flights to Leh are run by Indian, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Red from Delhi, Srinagar, Jammu and elsewhere.
• You can ride in to Leh between June and mid-October (when the roads are open) on a motorcyle too.
• Bikers usually follow either of the 2 routes:
Delhi -> Chandigarh -> Patni Top -> Srinagar -> Kargil -> Leh
Delhi -> Chandigarh -> Manali -> Sarchu -> Pang -> Leh

4. To reach Ladakh by bus
• Ladakhi buses run from Leh to the surrounding villages.
• Daily buses or mini buses run to Alchi, Basgo, Dha-Hanu, Likir, Nimmu, and Saspul.
• Twice daily to Chemray, Hemis, Matho, Stok, and Tak Tok.
• Hourly or more often to Choglamsar, Phyang, Shey, Spituk, Stakna, Thiksay.

The other route is from Srinagar.

1. Srinagar by Air
• Srinagar domestic airport is connected with many airports of the major cities in India.
• Regular flights are operated between Srinagar and Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Shimla.
• International travelers get the connecting flights from Delhi International airport.
• This is at a distance of 876 km from Srinagar.

2. Srinagar by Train
• Jammu is the nearest railway station to Srinagar.
• This is at a distance of 290 km.
• Jammu railway station is well connected to all major cities in India by rail.
• Direct train services are available from Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Trivandrum.
• Taxi services are available from Jammu to Srinagar.
• The fare is about Rs 6000.

3. Srinagar by Bus
• Many tourist bus service providers arrange deluxe luxurious bus package tours from many neighboring cities to Srinagar.
Srinagar is well connected by tourist bus services to
• Chandigarh (630 km)
• Jammu (290 km)
• Delhi (876 km)
• Leh (434 km)
• Phalgan (96 km)
Packaged tours charge about Rs 4 – Rs 5 per km.

4. By plane
• Sheikh ul Alam Airport is commonly known as Srinagar Airport.
• It is an international airport.
• Flights are operated by Jet Airways, Air Deccan, Spice Jet, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, Jet Lite and Indian Airlines from Delhi and Mumbai to Srinagar.
• The frequency is once or twice a day by each airline.
• The cost is approximately Rs 2,500 from Jammu, Rs 2,500-5,000 from Delhi one way and higher from Mumbai.

5. By taxi from Jammu to Srinagar
• Hiring a TATA Sumo SUV from Jammu costs approximately Rs 1,900-2,700 depending on time of year or even time of day.
• The journey takes around 8 hrs.

6. By bus from Jammu
• J&K State Road Transport Corporation (J&KSRTC) operates fairly comfortable buses from Jammu costing around Rs 350 and does the journey in around 12 hrs.
• 2 day buses run between Srinagar and Leh staying overnight in Kargil.
• There are also direct buses from Delhi taking almost 24 hrs to reach Srinagar.

Some travel books from Amazon about Alchi

A Journey in Ladakh Ancient Futures Trekking in Ladakh

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

Hotels at makemytrip.com
Hotels at toursnorthindia.com
Hotels at tripadvisor.in

Blogs/Sites about Alchi

Blogs and reviews at kashmir-tourism.com
Blogs and reviews at tripadvisor.in
Blogs and reviews at tourism-of-india.com

Images and photos of Alchi

Images at google.com
Images at tripadvisor.in
Images at mustseeindia.com

Videos of Alchi

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