Things to do in Hemis Monastery – A comprehensive travel guide

Let’s embark on an exploration of the Hemis Monastery, a tranquil and spiritually captivating destination nestled in the stunning landscapes of Ladakh. This ancient sanctuary is a testament to the human spirit’s quest for enlightenment and the breathtaking beauty of the natural world. Discover the rich history, architectural marvels, and profound spiritual significance of the Hemis Monastery, and immerse yourself in the serenity and mystique of this sacred haven.

Hemis Monastery

Whether you’re an avid traveller, a history enthusiast, or a seeker of spiritual insight, the story of Hemis Monastery promises to captivate your senses and nourish your soul. But wait! Before you start reading the guide, make sure your travel arrangements are taken care of. Book your local travel and enjoy a comfortable journey.

Table of Contents

  1. About
  2. How to plan a trip to Hemis Monastery
  3. Hotels and restaurants
  4. Useful links

About Hemis Monastery

Things to do in Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery, a revered gem nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of Ladakh, stands as a bastion of spirituality and cultural heritage. Believed to be established in the 11th century, this ancient monastery is a harmonious fusion of Tibetan architecture and Buddhist traditions. Home to a vibrant community of monks, Hemis is renowned not only for its serene ambience but also for its annual Hemis Festival, a vibrant celebration that draws pilgrims and travellers from around the world. The monastery’s ornate prayer halls, thangka paintings, and age-old relics offer a glimpse into the profound spirituality that has thrived here for centuries. Hemis Monastery is not just a place; it’s a spiritual sanctuary that encapsulates the essence of Ladakh’s mystical charm and unwavering devotion.

History of Hemis Monastery

The history of Hemis Monastery is a tapestry woven with threads of ancient wisdom and enduring spirituality. Believed to have been founded in the 11th century by the revered Tibetan Buddhist master Naropa, the monastery has since stood as a beacon of faith and enlightenment. Over the centuries, it has weathered the tides of time, surviving invasions, conflicts, and societal shifts. The Hemis Monastery has served as a sanctuary for spiritual seekers, a centre for learning, and a custodian of precious manuscripts and artefacts. With its roots in the Drukpa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, Hemis Monastery has nurtured generations of monks who continue to carry forward its legacy of profound teachings and rituals. Its history is not just a chronicle of dates; it’s a narrative of resilience, devotion, and the timeless pursuit of inner peace.

Architecture of Hemis Monastery 

The architecture of Hemis Monastery is a captivating blend of intricate craftsmanship and spiritual symbolism. The monastery’s sprawling complex is characterized by its traditional Tibetan architectural style, featuring whitewashed walls adorned with vibrant murals, ornate woodwork, and skillfully crafted sculptures. The main prayer hall, known as the Dukhang, stands as a testament to artistic finesse, with its richly painted ceiling and intricately carved columns. The assembly hall, adorned with thangka paintings depicting Buddhist deities, exudes an aura of reverence and devotion. The monastery’s architecture is not only a feast for the eyes but also a means of facilitating a serene and contemplative atmosphere that invites visitors to immerse themselves in the teachings of Buddhism.

Lesser known facts about Hemis Monastery

Hemis Monastery

While Hemis Monastery’s grandeur and spiritual significance are widely known, there exist hidden gems that weave an even richer tapestry of its history and allure. Let’s journey beyond the obvious and explore some lesser-known facts that paint a more intricate picture of this enchanting sanctuary.

  • Naropa’s cave- The cradle of enlightenment

Few are aware that Hemis Monastery’s roots trace back to the revered Tibetan saint Naropa. His meditative cave, nestled amidst the rugged terrain nearby, is believed to be the very place where he attained enlightenment. This hidden cave stands as a testament to the profound spiritual heritage that nurtured the foundation of the monastery.

  • Thangka treasures- A glimpse of devotion

Within Hemis Monastery lies a treasure trove of thangka paintings – intricate depictions of Buddhist deities and teachings on cloth canvases. Some of these thangkas are rare masterpieces, intricately woven with gold and silver threads, each telling a story of devotion, belief, and artistry. These paintings provide a glimpse into the deep spiritual understanding that has flourished within these walls.

  • The Hidden Temple- Tucked away for centuries

Delve deeper into Hemis, and you’ll discover the hidden temple of Yungdrung Bon. Often overshadowed by the monastery’s Buddhist practices, this temple is a reminder of the region’s rich pre-Buddhist spiritual heritage. It’s a fascinating intersection of cultures and beliefs that adds layers to the monastery’s historical tapestry.

  • The Gompa and its Guardians- Protecting Hemis

Hemis Monastery has a unique tradition of appointing a “Gompa Srid” – a guardian who takes on the responsibility of ensuring the monastery’s safety. Chosen from among the local villagers, this guardian plays a vital role in preserving the spiritual and physical sanctity of Hemis.

  • A hidden festival- The sacred Tsechu

While the Hemis Festival draws crowds, there’s another festival that takes place every 12 years, known as the Tsechu. It’s a celebration of Guru Rinpoche’s birth and is marked by the unveiling of the monastery’s renowned thangka painting. This event draws devotees and curious souls alike, offering a rare glimpse into the monastery’s grandeur and cultural significance.

As we peel back the layers of Hemis Monastery’s history, we uncover a tapestry woven with devotion, artistry, and a blend of spiritual influences. These lesser-known facts add nuance to the narrative, reminding us that even the most celebrated places hold hidden stories waiting to be unearthed.

Things to do in Hemis Monastery


Stepping into the serene realm of Hemis Monastery opens the door to a world of spiritual enrichment and cultural wonder. While the monastery itself is a masterpiece of history and architecture, the surrounding landscape beckons with its allure. Here are some enriching activities that will make your visit to Hemis Monastery an unforgettable experience-

  • Embrace spiritual serenity

Start your journey with a moment of reflection in the monastery’s prayer halls. Absorb the tranquil atmosphere, listen to the rhythmic chants, and witness the monks immersed in their spiritual practices. Allow the ambience to guide you into a state of inner peace and contemplation.

  • Dive into history at the museum

Hemis Monastery boasts a museum that houses a treasure trove of artefacts, thangka paintings, and religious relics. Delve into the history and heritage of the monastery as you admire intricate artworks and artefacts that offer glimpses into the past.

  • Witness the Hemis festival

If your visit coincides with the Hemis Festival, consider yourself fortunate. This vibrant celebration, held annually in June or July, is a spectacle of colour, music, and dance. Join the locals and pilgrims as they come together to commemorate Guru Rinpoche’s birth, showcasing traditional dances and showcasing a rich cultural mosaic.

  • Explore the surrounding trails

The rugged beauty of Ladakh beckons adventurers. Embark on treks that lead you through breathtaking landscapes, connecting you with the pristine nature that envelops the monastery. The trails offer not only physical exploration but also moments of solitude and communion with the earth.

  • Attend spiritual teachings

Hemis Monastery occasionally hosts teachings and talks by esteemed lamas and monks. Attending these sessions provides an opportunity to gain insights into Buddhist philosophy, meditation practices, and the monastery’s spiritual legacy.

  • Engage with the local community

Interact with the friendly locals who call the area around Hemis Monastery their home. Engaging with them offers a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the people who have coexisted with this spiritual sanctuary for generations.

  • Capture moments of beauty

The architecture, the landscape, and the palpable sense of devotion provide ample photography opportunities. Capture the intricate details of the monastery, the play of light on its surfaces, and the expressions of those who visit.

Hemis Monastery isn’t just a place; it’s an experience that encompasses history, spirituality, culture, and nature. These activities offer a diverse and immersive way to connect with the essence of this remarkable sanctuary, leaving you with lasting memories and a sense of enrichment.

Places to visit near Hemis Monastery

While Hemis Monastery casts an enchanting spell of spirituality and history, the surrounding region is dotted with destinations that beckon with their allure. Embark on a journey to explore the treasures that lie within a stone’s throw of the monastery, each offering a unique facet of Ladakh’s beauty and culture.

  •  Thiksey Monastery – Located just a short distance from Hemis, Thiksey Monastery stands as a magnificent testament to Ladakh’s spiritual heritage. Its architecture mirrors the grandeur of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Climb to its elevated vantage point to witness panoramic views that stretch to the horizon.
    • Entry fee – ₹30 per person
    • Working hours –  7-00 AM – 7-00 PM
  • Shey Palace –Just a stone’s throw away, Shey Palace offers insight into Ladakh’s royal past. Explore its ancient halls, adorned with intricate murals and historical artefacts. The giant gold-plated Shakyamuni Buddha statue within the palace complex is a sight to behold.
    • Entry fee – ₹30 per person
    • Working hours – 6-00 AM – 6-00 PM
  • Stakna Monastery – Nestled on a hilltop, Stakna Monastery boasts stunning views of the Indus River valley. Its name translates to “tiger’s nose,” inspired by the hill’s shape. The monastery’s serene ambience and intricate frescoes offer a tranquil escape.
    • Entry fee – ₹20 per person
    • Working hours – 7-00 AM – 7-00 PM
  • Hemis National Park – Nature enthusiasts will find solace in Hemis National Park, home to elusive snow leopards, blue sheep, and a range of avian species. The rugged terrain is a sanctuary for wildlife photography and ecotourism.
    • Entry fee – ₹20 per person
    • Working hours – 6-00 AM – 6-00 PM
  • Pangong Lake – Venture a bit further to witness the mesmerizing Pangong Lake. Its ever-changing hues and reflection of the surrounding mountains create a surreal landscape. The journey itself, through rugged terrain, is an adventure worth cherishing.
    • Entry fees – Nil
    • Working hours – Open all day
  • Diskit Monastery – For a change of scenery, head to Diskit Monastery in the Nubra Valley. The giant Maitreya Buddha statue and panoramic views of the desert landscape make this visit unforgettable.
    • Entry fee – ₹30 per person
    • Working hours – 7-00 AM – 7-00 PM

These nearby destinations complement the spiritual sanctity of Hemis Monastery with their distinct flavours of culture, history, and nature. As you explore each one, you’ll find yourself immersed in Ladakh’s multifaceted charm. Book a car rental service with expert local drivers today in Leh and make sure you make the most of your trip.

Planning a trip to Hemis Monastery

Planning a trip to hemis

Planning a journey to Hemis Monastery entails weaving together history, spirituality, and breathtaking landscapes into a seamless tapestry of experience. Begin by charting your travel dates, considering the annual Hemis Festival for a vibrant immersion into Ladakh’s culture. As you pack your bags, remember that Ladakh’s high altitude calls for adequate acclimatization and warm clothing, even in summer. To reach Hemis, consider flights to Leh, followed by a scenic drive or local transport.

Once there, savour the serenity of the monastery’s prayer halls, explore the museum’s treasures, and engage with the local community. Venture into the surrounding region to discover nearby monasteries, like Thiksey and Shey, and relish the breathtaking landscapes of Pangong Lake and Hemis National Park. Research entry fees and working hours in advance to ensure a seamless experience. So, plan your pilgrimage to Hemis Monastery, where spiritual enlightenment and natural wonder converge to create a journey of a lifetime.

How to reach Hemis Monastery

The journey to Hemis Monastery is an odyssey that unfolds through various routes, each offering its unique charm. Whether you prefer the skies, the roads, or the rails, Ladakh’s spiritual sanctuary is within reach. Here’s a guide on how to reach Hemis Monastery through different modes of transportation.

By air

The quickest way to enter the realm of Ladakh is by air. The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh serves as the gateway, connecting you to major Indian cities. As you descend into Leh’s elevated embrace, you’ll witness the breathtaking panorama of the surrounding Himalayas.

By road

For those who savour the journey as much as the destination, a road trip to Hemis Monastery is a visual feast. The Leh-Manali Highway and the Leh-Srinagar Highway are the two main routes that lead to Leh. From Leh, the road to Hemis winds through dramatic landscapes, offering glimpses of monasteries perched atop hills, quaint villages, and the iconic Chang La Pass. Since the terrain is challenging, you can hire a Savaari taxi from Leh to Manali for a hassle-free ride by road.

By train

Although Leh doesn’t have a railway station, you can combine a train journey with a road trip. Board a train to Jammu Tawi Railway Station, the nearest major railhead to Leh. From Jammu, a picturesque drive through the Srinagar-Leh Highway or the Manali-Leh Highway opens up the magical world of Ladakh.

Each mode of transportation offers its adventure, allowing you to tailor your journey to your preferences and schedule. Keep in mind that Ladakh’s high altitude requires acclimatization, especially if you’re arriving by air. Give yourself a day or two to adjust to the thin mountain air before setting off on your exploration of Hemis Monastery and the enchanting Ladakh region beyond. Whether you choose to fly, drive, or combine rail and road, the path to Hemis Monastery is a passage to both spiritual enrichment and the splendour of nature.

The best time to visit Hemis Monastery

Hemis gompa

Selecting the best time to visit Hemis Monastery involves a delicate balance of weather, festivities, and personal preferences. The months of May to September mark the ideal window, as Ladakh emerges from its winter slumber to reveal its vibrant colours. During this period, the weather is relatively mild, with clear skies and comfortable temperatures. The highlight of the year is the annual Hemis Festival, celebrated in June or July. This vibrant event draws crowds from far and wide, offering a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Ladakhi culture and witness traditional dances and rituals.

If you’re keen on witnessing the snow-covered landscape, plan a trip during the winter months, when Hemis Monastery is veiled in a serene white blanket, creating a distinct aura of tranquillity. Regardless of the season you choose, Hemis Monastery’s spiritual ambience and historical significance remain ever-present, promising an enriching experience.

Timing and entry fees for Hemis Monastery

As you step into the sacred realm of Hemis Monastery, time seems to blend with spirituality. The monastery opens its doors to seekers and curious souls, offering an opportunity to connect with its profound energy. The timing of your visit plays a significant role in experiencing its serenity. From the early hours of the morning until the gentle embrace of evening, Hemis Monastery welcomes you. The mornings usher in tranquillity, perfect for quiet introspection, while the afternoons and evenings are alive with the rhythm of prayers and the rustling of prayer flags.

Timings and working hours-

  • Opening hours – Hemis Monastery generally opens early in the morning, around 6:00 AM.
  • Closing hours- The monastery usually closes its doors around 6:00 p.m. offering ample time to explore its beauty and engage with its spiritual ambience.

Travel tips to Hemis Monastery

Embarking on a pilgrimage to Hemis Monastery involves more than just reaching the destination; it’s about embracing the entire journey with preparedness and reverence. Here are some travel tips to ensure your visit to this spiritual haven is as enriching and seamless as possible-

  • Plan for acclimatization – Ladakh’s high altitude can take a toll on the body. Arrive in Leh a day or two before your visit to Hemis Monastery to acclimatize to the thin mountain air. This will help you fully appreciate the spiritual and natural beauty that awaits you.
  • Pack wisely – Layer your clothing as temperatures can vary significantly throughout the day. Include warm clothing, sturdy footwear for exploration, a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the high-altitude sun.
  • Respect the culture – Hemis Monastery is a sacred place of worship. Dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees, and remove your shoes before entering the prayer halls out of respect for the local customs.
  • Capture the moment – Don’t forget your camera to capture the monastery’s intricate architecture, vibrant prayer flags, and stunning landscapes. However, ensure you ask for permission before taking photos of people, especially monks.
  • Time your visit – Arrive early in the morning to experience the monastery’s serene ambience before the crowds arrive. Weekdays are generally quieter than weekends. If possible, plan your visit during the annual Hemis Festival to witness the vibrant cultural celebrations.
  • Stay hydrated – Ladakh’s dry climate can lead to dehydration, especially at high altitudes. Carry a reusable water bottle and drink water frequently to stay hydrated.
  • Respect local customs – Ladakh has its unique customs and traditions. Be respectful and polite when interacting with locals. Ask for permission before taking photos, and always follow guidelines when visiting local homes or monasteries.
  • Embrace the simplicity – Hemis Monastery offers a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Embrace the simplicity, immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere, and take the time to meditate and reflect.
  • Support sustainability – Minimize your environmental impact by carrying reusable items, avoiding single-use plastics, and participating in responsible tourism practices.
  • Be open to the experience – Lastly, approach your visit with an open heart and mind. Allow the spiritual energy of Hemis Monastery to touch your soul, and be prepared for moments of awe and introspection.

By keeping these travel tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a transformative journey to Hemis Monastery, where spirituality, history, and natural beauty converge in perfect harmony.

Saavari customer verified places to eat near Hemis Monastery 

As you immerse yourself in the spiritual ambience of Hemis Monastery, your journey is further enriched by the flavours of Ladakhi cuisine waiting to be savoured. While the tranquil surroundings might seem remote, there are delightful eateries nearby where you can indulge in local specialities and international dishes alike. Here’s a guide to some of the best dining options in the vicinity of Hemis Monastery-

  •  The Apricot Tree Restaurant, Hemis Village – Indulge in Ladakhi and Tibetan dishes amidst a charming garden setting. From momos to thukpa, and the renowned apricot dessert, this restaurant offers a culinary journey through Ladakh’s flavours.
  • Gurmet Restaurant, Choglamsar – Just a short drive from Hemis, Gurmet Restaurant offers a diverse menu ranging from Indian to Continental cuisine. Enjoy the warm ambience and delectable dishes after your monastery exploration.
  • Chopsticks Noodle Bar, Leh – If you’re craving Asian flavours, Chopsticks Noodle Bar in Leh serves up delicious noodles, dim sum, and other Chinese delights. It’s a perfect option if you’re seeking a change of taste.
  • Lamayuru Restaurant, Leh – Experience traditional Ladakhi hospitality at Lamayuru Restaurant. The menu features both local and international dishes, allowing you to savour diverse flavours in a cosy atmosphere.
  • Wonderland Restaurant, Hemis Road, Leh – For those seeking a fusion of global cuisines, Wonderland Restaurant is a haven. From Italian pasta to Indian curries, there’s something to please every palate.
  •  Ladakh Kitchen, Changspa Road, Leh – Dive into authentic Ladakhi flavours at Ladakh Kitchen. Sample traditional dishes like skyu and butter tea, and relish the experience of Ladakh’s culinary heritage.
  • German Bakery, Old Fort Road, Leh – A visit to Leh is incomplete without a stop at the famous German Bakery. Enjoy freshly baked goods, sandwiches, and a variety of teas, all in a cosy alpine setting.

As you explore Hemis Monastery and its surroundings, don’t miss the chance to tantalize your taste buds with Ladakhi cuisine and other culinary delights. Whether you’re craving local flavours or international favourites, these eateries cater to a range of preferences, ensuring that your gastronomic journey is as satisfying as your spiritual one.

Places to stay in Hemis Monastery

As you embark on a journey of spiritual exploration to Hemis Monastery, finding the right place to stay enhances the entire experience. The region offers a variety of accommodations that combine Ladakhi charm with modern comforts. Here’s a curated list of hotels and resorts near Hemis Monastery, each offering a unique blend of tranquillity, convenience, and scenic beauty.

Hotel Name Distance from the city centre Contact Number
The Grand Dragon Ladakh Approximately 34 km  from the city centre +91 1982 252 151
Nimmu House Approximately 32 km   from the city centre +91 9419 162 783
The Indus Valley Approximately 38 km   from the city centre +91 1982 251 209
Saboo Resorts Approximately 34 km   from the city centre +91 9829 264 349
Hotel Singge Palace Approximately 33 km   from the city centre +91 1982 250 800
Zee Continental Approximately 34 km   from the city centre +91 1982 257 938
The Auspicious Hotel Approximately 32 km   from the city centre +91 9906 014 748

Highest road trips taken from Ladakh

Nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of Ladakh, Hemis Monastery beckons travellers to embark on extraordinary journeys that lead to some of the world’s highest motorable roads. These road trips are not just about traversing distances; they’re about ascending to dizzying heights, breathing in the pure mountain air, and witnessing panoramic vistas that defy imagination. Prepare to be amazed as we explore the highest road trips you can embark on from the spiritual haven of Hemis Monastery.

Location Distance from Hemis Monastery
Khardung La Pass 121 km
Chang La Pass 138 km
Tanglang La Pass 222 KM
Wari La Pass 135 km
Marsimik La Pass 135 km
Umling La Pass 176 km

In the heart of Ladakh’s majestic landscapes, Hemis Monastery stands as a symbol of spirituality, culture, and the breathtaking beauty that defines the region. Our journey through the hallowed halls and serene courtyards of Hemis Monastery has revealed a profound connection between human aspiration and natural magnificence. From its rich history and intricate architecture to the spiritual ambience that pervades every corner, Hemis Monastery offers a transcendent experience that lingers long after the visit. 

As we close this chapter, let the serenity and wisdom of this sacred place remind us of the harmony that exists when we embrace both the inner and outer worlds. But wait, what is a journey without the right travel partner? Download the Savaari app to enjoy the best of local drivers and clean cars for a comfortable journey. May our steps continue to lead us on paths of discovery and introspection, as we carry the essence of Hemis Monastery’s tranquillity with us on our journey through life’s intricate tapestry.

Last Updated on October 18, 2023 by blogadmin

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Buddhist Bliss in the Hills - Things to do in Hemis Monastery
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Buddhist Bliss in the Hills - Things to do in Hemis Monastery
Check out the top things to do in Hemis Monastery with history, travel tips and places to visit. Read our comprehensive guide for more.
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A celebration of his love for India's cultural diversity, Pavitr's travels unfold new chapters of exploration with each destination. His stories are a vibrant collage of festivals, traditions, and human connections, reflecting the rich tapestry of India. Step into his narrative to experience the diverse heartbeat of India's cultures.

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