Lamayuru, a tiny village on the Leh-Kargil road located amidst mountain-backed badlands, is popularly known as the Moonland of Ladakh due to its unusual landscape. Lamayuru is well-known for housing one of Ladakh’s oldest and largest monasteries. However, its claim to fame is the surreal and breathtaking view of moonlike landscapes carved into the mountains.
It is at an elevation of 3510 meters and approximately 127 kilometers from the town of Leh. Tourists who visit Ladakh usually stop in Lamayuru to visit the Lamayuru monastery. Lamayuru monastery was founded in the 11th century by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa and belonged to the Red-Hat sect of Buddhism. The monastery is well-known for its fascinating history and the Yuru Kabgyat festival.
A large lake had long since dried up, and the protrusions resembled the moon’s surface. The Indian scholar Mahasiddhacharya Naropa caused a lake to dry up, which fed the entire valley, and laid the foundation stone of the Lamayuru monastery in the 10th century. Seng-ge-sgang, the monastery’s oldest surviving temple, is located at the monastery’s southern end.
Tourists from different cities and countries visit this peaceful destination, and it’s also been said that the area is a spectacular sight to behold on a full moon night, something that doesn’t happen every day. It is an ideal stopover between Kargil and Leh. Near the monastery, there are several mid-range hotels. You can also stay in the monastery.
At times, the monastery is also known as “The Place of Freedom” or “Tharpa Ling” at times. Lamayuru has become a popular tourist destination over the years, not only for its rich historical and spiritual significance but also for its stunning scenic beauty. The altitude of the Lamayuru monastery also serves as a viewing platform for the surrounding mountains, lakes, and villages.
This region is well-known for two annual festivals, both of which are celebrated on a grand scale. Yuru Kab Gyat and Hemis Tse Chu are observed in the 2nd and 5th months of the Tibetan lunar calendar, respectively. Hemis Tse Chu is Ladakh’s largest monastic festival, lasting 2 days. Yuru Kab Gyat is also a 2-day festival during which monks perform sacred rituals and dances.
Summers in Lamayuru is pleasant and the best time to visit. Slight rains during the monsoons make the season almost ideal. However, there is a risk of landslides and cloudbursts during the monsoons. Winters can be quite cold, with temperatures as low as 5 degrees Celsius, due to which it remains closed for at least 6 months.
Aside from spending time at the monastery, you can take a stroll through the village. Ladakhis are warm people with exuberant smiles, and you can break the ice by simply greeting them and saying “Julley” (Hello in Ladakhi). You can even put your fitness to the test by hiking through these moonlike craters.
To reach Lamayuru, one must travel 107 kilometers west of Leh. You can either take a short bypass from the nearby Srinagar-Leh road or hike to the Prikiti-La pass, the gateway to Zanskar.
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