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Visit Lamayuru: The Moon Land of Ladakh

Visit Lamayuru: The Moon Land of Ladakh (2021)

Lamayuru is a village located in the western ghats of Ladakh with a backdrop of the majestic Himalayas and is one of the most popular villages and an ideal stopover between the Kargil-Leh route. It has a very peculiar and beautiful landscape that will bewitch you. Lamayuru is situated around 127 kilometers from the town of Leh. Tourists who visit Ladakh halts in Lamayuru as a rule visit Lamayuru monastery in this region. It dates back to the 11th century, Lamayuru monastery was founded by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa. Lamayuru is also known as the Moonland of Ladakh. This place is also very popular for one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh. Lamayuru Village in LadakhImage Source

Lamayuru has become more popular these days because of the breathtaking views of the beautiful moon land. The place is famously known as moon land because the landscape of the place is said to appear like that of the moon. People from all over the world come to this beautiful and exceptional landscape. It appears even more beautiful on a full moon. The legend says that a large lake long ago dried up that created this village and especially the unique landscape of Lamayuru. A famous age-old monastery is also located here that is famous by the name Lamayuru monastery.

Tourists from various places visit this relatively serene destination to immerse themselves in this scenic beauty. It has also been said often, that on a full moon night, the area is an extraordinary sight to behold, something one does not get to see every day. It is an ideal stopover between the Kargil-Leh route. You will be able to enjoy the beautiful moonscapes, scenic Himalayan lakes, highlands freckled greenery in the middle of the cold dessert. The place is said to be blessed, nourished, and thriving by the prayers at the thousand years old monasteries located here. This is a perfect place where you can enjoy adventure activities, relax in the lap of nature. There cannot be a perfect getaway than Spiti if you want to enjoy nature in its purest form and calm your body, mind, and soul to live in the lap of nature for a few days away from the chaotic life.

Places to See and Things to Do in Lamayuru

Following are the Places to See and Things to Do in Lamayuru

1. Moonland

The place has been given the name moon land because it is said that the land resembles that of the moon. The land has many unique geographical features that make it look like that of the moon. Thousands of tourists visit Moonland in Lamayuru to look at this exquisite piece of land. There is also a saying that during the full moon, the land appears exceptional and is a sight to behold. It is a place you would like to visit once in a lifetime. To watch the glimpses of the beautiful Moon land clearly and closely, you can climb up to the Meditation Hill in Lamayuru. The monks from Lamayuru gompa are living on this hill, at a greater height. This is a rough, uneven landscape of Moon land that will be not a very usual sight but amusing. If you are an adventure seeker, you got to make sure, you get to meditation hill and enjoy the view of the moon land. The entire Lamayuru becomes visible from the top of the hill. You will come to know why Lamayuru and Moonland are heard as synonyms for each other, and the natives here find Moon land as an inevitable part of their lives also. The moon land is located on the NH 1-D or the popular Leh-Srinagar Highway. You can reach the destination by bus or jeep. Bikers would get some exciting sightseeing options throughout the journey.

2. Lamayuru Monastery

Lamayuru Monastery is also known as Yuru Monastery. It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Lamayuru, Leh district, Ladakh, India. You can reach the destination by bus or jeep from the main town. It is a famous site for adventure seekers. There are thousands of people coming to visit this monastery every year. The place is especially famous among the bike riders who specifically enjoy riding to this beautiful place. You can enjoy the beautiful and exceptional landscapes of this beautiful land on your way to this place. The monastery is situated on the Srinagar-Leh highway 15 kilometers east of the Fotu La at a height of 3,510 meters. The name Lamayuru means sauwastika and is a popular symbol in Bon for “eternity”. Yungdrung is the name of the most popular school of Bon.

It is currently affiliated with the Drikung Kagyu school of Buddhism. The Drikung history states that there was an Indian scholar named Naropa during 956-1041 CE who caused the lake which filled the valley to dry up and founded Lamayuru Monastery. There are many old buildings in the monastery and one of the oldest surviving buildings at Lamayuru is a temple called Seng-ge-sgang, at the southern end of the Lamayuru rock, which is dedicated to the famous builder-monk Rinchen Zangpo between 958-1055 CE. Rinchen Zangpo was charged by the king of Ladakh to build 108 gompas in Ladakh and around Spiti Valley and the surrounding regions during the time mentioned above.

The gompa consisted originally of five buildings. However, only one oldest building has survived the test of time but some remains of the four corner buildings can still be seen. Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks resident. It has, in the past, housed up to 400 monks, many of which are now based in gompas in surrounding villages. Lamayuru is host to two annual masked dance festivals in the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar when all the monks from these surrounding gompas gather together to pray. This monastery has a big historical importance in Tibetan culture. Make sure you visit the monastery during your stay at this place.

3. Uleytokpo

Uleytokpo is one of the hidden and most beautiful places in Ladakh. There are not many people who even know about this place and hence are still not disturbed by human intervention. This place has managed to remain unspoiled, and the beauty of this place is exceptional and cannot be compared with any other place. It is also a trekking base in Ladakh, and people stay there for some rest during their treks in the great Himalayas. You can reach Ulleytokpo by road from Stok which is a well-connected district in Ladakh. En route, you can enjoy the pleasure of visiting the great statue of Maitreya Buddha at Likir. The 11th Century Likir Monastery is on the site gifted by the fifth king of Ladakh and presently serves as the residence of approximately 120 Buddhist monks.

Uletokpo is an enchanting village located 70 km west of Leh on the Leh Srinagar Highway. Uleytokpo is located at an altitude of 3040m above sea level. Uleytokpo is an ideal stopover to enjoy the food and get some rest while getting acquainted with the local climate in the area. Uleytokpo is a central hub in the city, and you will find more people in this city compared to the other nearby areas.

As mentioned above, Uleytokpo is one of the beautiful secrets of Ladakh. It is well-known as the base for treks and camping in the beautiful city of Ladakh. You will be able to enjoy the most beautiful experiences surrounded by snowcapped mountains and the beautiful landscapes of the Himalayas. The landscapes attract tourists to this piece of land, and it does not disappoint anyone. The beautiful landscapes bewitch all visitors and craving them for more. Ulleytokpo is the paradise you are looking to escape the hustle-bustle of cities. Mae sure you visit this beautiful town while you are on your Ladakh adventure and enjoy what the city has to offer.

4. Wanla Gompa

Wanla Gompa is a historic Buddhist monastery on the ridge that crowns Wanla village in Ladakh, India. The monastery has a beautiful temple that has been preserved and has successfully passed the test of time. It is small but impressively preserved. The three-storied Avalokitesvara temple is one of the earliest known Drigung Kagyu prayer chambers to have survived in Ladakh. Wanla is a sub-monastery of the Lamayuru monastery. Wanla Gompa provides a caretaker monk, responsible for daily rituals and for granting access to the temple. The main image features Avalokitesvara in 11-headed Chuchigzhel form.

The monastery sits within the sparse remnants of a medieval castle. The construction of this castle is mentioned in Ladakhi chronicles as being by the Ladakhi King Lhachen Ngaglug. The temple is currently being restored by the Achi Association.

5. Maitreya Buddha

Maitreya Buddha is a bodhisattva residing in Tushita heaven. This is also known as the future Buddha by the Buddhists. The legend says that Maitreya Buddha will descend from heaven to preach the dharma after the teachings of Gautama buddha have completely decayed from the world. Maitreya is one of the earliest bodhisattvas around whom a cult developed. The details are also mentioned in scriptures from the 3rd century CE. Maitreya Buddha was accepted by all schools of Buddhism and is still the only bodhisattva generally honored by the Theravada tradition. The word Maitreya is derived from the Sanskrit word “Maitri” which means “Friendliness”. He is represented in painting and sculpture both as a bodhisattva and as a buddha. He is depicted seated in European fashion or with his ankles loosely crossed. It is located near the Diskit monastery. It is a 32-meter-tall statue that is facing towards the Shyok river. It is said that this statue was built to protect the village from wars and to promote world peace.

Best Time to Visit Lamayuru

You will experience some extreme weather conditions in Lamayuru. The best time to visit this beautiful place and enjoy every bit of the adventure it has to offer is between the summer months which are short from June to September. The temperature in Lamayuru goes down to almost minus 5 degrees Celsius. During monsoon, there is a light shower to heavy snowfall, and it is also common to have landslides and cloudbursts. So, monsoons should be avoided to visit Lamayuru. Summer is a nice time for the tourists to get around and to enjoy the wilderness in the surrounding areas. The weather is pleasantly cold and is considered a good time to spend in Lamayuru.

Winters start in October and lasts up to May. It is comparatively colder than many other hill stations in Himachal. Winters in Lamayuru are long and freezing. The temperature during winters drops to extreme levels and becomes intolerable for people not accustomed to living in extreme weather conditions. It is not inadvisable to go during winters, but it becomes a little difficult for tourists going from warm areas to stay in cold. The road leading to Lamayuru sometimes gets blocked when the temperatures drop below zero degrees and there is snow around. At the end of April or at the beginning of May is the best time to visit Lamayuru. You can choose the best time for your visit depending on your choice to enjoy the summer sun or winter snow.

How to Reach Lamayuru?

Lamayuru is located in a corner of the country. But you can reach the valley via different means of transport and the details of which are mentioned in the details below. You can choose from air travel, trains, buses, or taxis to reach this heavenly town in this beautiful valley.

Air Travel to Lamayuru: The Nearest airport is Kushok Bakula Rinpoche airport at Leh at a distance of approximately 125 km from Lamayuru. It is connected to most of the major cities in India. The local airlines and carriers like Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, and others have direct flights from Delhi. You can take a taxi to Lamayuru or jeeps are also available for hire at the airport. To reach Leh, you can also take connecting flights from other local airports in India if a direct flight is not available from your nearest airport. You can hire a taxi from the airport to reach go to your destination in Lamayuru or the nearby cities if you are planning to go anywhere else.

Rail Travel to Lamayuru: The Nearest railway stations are the Jammu railway station which is around 700 km from Lamayuru. If you are coming from different and farther areas of the country or outside, you can reach Jammu Station and hire a taxi from here. The railhead is connected to most of the major cities in India. Jammu railway station is directly connected to prime cities of the country, including Delhi, Bhatinda, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Jodhpur via several superfast, express, and mail trains. You can take a taxi or take a shared cab from outside the railway station to reach your destination.

The road travels to Lamayuru: Lamayuru is connected via road to all places. Frequent buses are plying on this route. There are regular buses from cities like Udhampur, Jammu, Srinagar, and Leh. You can also hire a taxi from these destinations. Generally, tourists reach Leh via public transport like planes, buses, etc., and hire a taxi from Leh to reach Lamayuru. Bus services also ply to and from the city of Lamayuru from nearby places like Jammu Tawi, Srinagar, Leh. However, there are no regular buses that travel on this route and it is very risky to rely on public transport.

Places to Stay in Lamayuru

It is located in a farther part of the country and one should not keep big expectations if you are accustomed to staying at 5-star properties. It is located in a remote area and you will not find many let alone fancy places to stay during your visit. Often known as the cold desert of India, you will see brown mountains without any vegetation and majestic views of the valleys you have ever seen. There are only a few guest houses or homestays to stay at Lamayuru and you can choose a place based on your budget. You can also choose from several homestays at this place that you will enjoy which will give you a comfortable vibe and homely feeling. Make sure you book the place before visiting during the season because it gets really difficult to find accommodation if you land in the town without any arrangement to stay in summer. You will also find places a little far from the main town so be careful and check all the details and confirm when booking the accommodation.

Things to Eat in Lamayuru

Lamayuru is a lesser-known and even lesser visited place in the middle of the majestic Himalayas. Most of the places here north Indian food with limited options and snacks are available all day. A few eating joints in the main town are serving lip-smacking food in the area. Most of the guesthouses and homestays have their in-house kitchens where they prepare food and serve it to their guests. You can always try local food which in this area are majorly small stalls with Maggi and other quick snacks for you to munch on. If you are going for hikes in the nearby areas, it is advisable to carry food on your journey here so that so you can eat something when you feel hungry during your treks in the area. There are also few street vendors offering some of the best Tibetan dishes for you to enjoy. If you do not worry about eating outside local food is a must-try. Many small places are serving Thukpa, Momos, and meat. This place promises to please all your senses while your visit to Lamayuru.