The Karsha Monastery near Padum in Zanskar in Ladakh

Karsha Monastery near Padum in Zanskar in Ladakh

I am sure I have been present at monasteries around lunch time, but only at Karsha monastery did I hear a conch being blown informing all the resident lamas, about 120 in all, it was time for the meals.

The 11th century monastery was built by Buddhist master Zanskar Lotsawa Phakpa Sherab who introduced Buddhism to this valley. Its thirty building, constructed in a cascade style along a hill face, have come up over the centuries and not all at one go. He was followed by other masters like Tungpa gyaltsa Pa, Thapuwa Dhamcheu Gyaltsen and Dupkhang Guelek Gyatso who established Karsha a major scholastic centre of Buddhist studies.

When the Panchen Lama could not go to the Amdo and Kham regions to impart some of his teachings in person, he designated some of his brightest followers to represent him. According to some sources, the ones who made the greatest impression on the villagers came from Karsha and were called Alaks meaning precious Lamas. The villagers, to ensure their good fortune of getting such teachers continued, offered precious gifts to the latter. Many of still in Karsha, not very well maintained, and some NGOs are trying to raise funds to preserve and display them appropriately.

I met a French woman who was painting gold leaves on a door to be installed later someplace in the monastery. She was in one of the lower buildings, with the kitchen and the guest rooms. A lama pointed out to a room designated for the Dalai Lama to stay when he comes visiting. The lady also said it would be time for lunch and I would be offered some too; unfortunately, I was not invited when the conch blew. Would have been nice to share the lunch lamas have.



  1. I just watched on the TV, «Hymalayas, the road to heaven» at the Karsha monastery. I have no words. I would not be supprised to have been a monk in a previous life! It remembered my trip to Ladakh in 1997. I met S. Dhondup at a Monastery in Leh and I lost his address. May be I don’t write his name the right way. At that time, he told me that he was going to Nepal. Is it possible to find his e-mail add.? Thank you. Marvelous souvenirs.

    In 1997, I hold on my knees for an hour, the little one Gyatse Lama, he was around nine months. I met his mother and his brother. But, again, I cannot find his mother, the address or courriel. Can you?


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