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Top 5 Places to Visit in Hemis

World renowned for its breathtaking sights, glorious landscapes and the ancient Hemis Monastery, the region of Hemis gathers visitors from every corner of the world. A tiny and lovely village situated in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir, Hemis is also popularly known as “Hamis”. The infamous Hemis Monastery here is known to have been re-established by King Senge Nampar Gyalva in 1672 AD but the monastery itself has been extant since before the 11th century. Located in the heart of the Himalayan mountains, the varied terrain of Hemis provides home not only to humans but a variety of exotic plant and animal species. The popular Hemis festival held here every year in the month of July is the most dazzling display of colors and enlightens us about the culture of an isolated civilization. Ideal for experiencing an adventurous holiday as well, Hemis has several attractions one can visit. The five best places you must visit in Hemis are enumerated here.

1. Hemis Monastery

Photo by Madhav Pai, CC BY 2.0

The largest and wealthiest of all monasteries in Ladakh region, Hemis monastery rests close to the Indus River, 45 kilometres away from Leh. Taking us back into the past with its architecture and a meditative ambiance, Hemis Monastery’s majestic sight is captivating and strangely reassuring. Located high up on a mountain side, the monastery belongs to the Drukpa lineage. The site also hosts a number of amazing festivals and events that must be witnessed. 3 kilometres away from this gompa one will find a sacred hermitage which was founded by Gyalwa Kotsang. His footprint and handprint are known to be engraved on a rock in a nearby cave.

2. Hemis High Altitude National Park

Photo by Snow Leopard Conservancy/Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department, Public Domain

Home to the highest number of rare snow leopards in the world, this vast national park is perched at an elevation of about 3000 – 6000 metres, making it the highest national park in the world, and covers an area of more than 4000 square kilometres. Established in 1981, Hemis High Altitude National Park is the largest national park in Jammu Kashmir. Bounded on the north side by the banks of river Indus, the park provides abode to innumerable species of plant and animal lives including many rare and endangered species. While trekking through the lovely wilderness makes for a wonderful experience, motorized vehicles are not allowed inside the national park.

3. Stakna Gompa

Photo by Koshy Koshy, CC BY 2.0

Stakna Monastery or Stakna Gompa literally means ‘tiger’s nose‘, a name derived based on the shape of the hill on which it rests which is shaped like a tiger’s nose. Perched on a hilltop along the banks of river Indus, the beautiful Stakna Monastery is located 25 kilometres in Stakna in the Leh district. This 16th century monastery was founded by saint and scholar Chosje Jamyang Palkar who was of Bhutanese heritage. Presently home to about thirty monks, this monastery gives a most panoramic view of the Hemis region. With undulating rocky hills surrounding from all sides, dense coniferous trees, dazzling green grasslands, glimpses of snow-capped peaks of the majestic Himalayas and the serene blue waters of the Indus flowing through it under the expanse of the brilliant blue sky, Stakna Monastery is a paradisiacal spot.

4. Shang Gompa

In the rugged terrain of the Himalayas, the tranquil Shang Gompa is a refreshing sight. Located 39 kilometres from the city centre, the chanting of the monks, fresh and cool air of the mountains, the incredibility of the monastery will soothe your senses. The monastery also retains various intricate paintings of several deities embellished in jewels, lotus flowers, human skulls and brandishing swords and clothed in silk robes and Tiger skins. Combined with a mesmerizing view, this monastery makes for the most blissful site.

5. Gotsang Gompa

A meditative retreat, one can escape to Gotsang Gompa to find peace and tranquility. It lies a short trek from the Hemis monastery. A partially hidden site, Gotsang Gompa is rather popular among tourists as a retreat centre. Accommodation facilities are provided here and in nearby places for those who wish stay for longer duration. Monks are said to retreat within the tiny rooms of this gompa for a number of years. An activity picked up by quite a number of tourists as well, people from all over the world flock here to unburden themselves of the new world troubles and live an ascetic life for some time.

A heavenly region located deep in the Himalayan mountains, Hemis provides life to a number of magnificent living creatures in its severe and glorious land. Giving you a chance to get away from the urban life and spend a calm time amongst the pine trees and the lush valleys, Hemis is a splendid location to spend a charming holiday.

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