Ladakh is known as the land of monasteries. Out of the numerous monasteries, Diskit Monastery, is the oldest and the largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley. It was founded in the 14th century and is located at an altitude of 3,142 meters. And ironically enough, it faces Pakistan!
What Is It?
The monastery is based in the Diskit village that is a 3-hour drive through rugged, harsh roads from Leh city. And while I was on my way to the monastery, I crossed the Khardung pass, which is known for being the highest motorable road of the world. But what is iconic about the monastery is that it houses the biggest and oldest Buddha statue, one that is 106 feet tall!
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The Maitreya Buddha Statue Of Diskit Monastery
The 106 feet Buddha statue is truly a handsome statue standing tall and is a reigning pride of the Nubra Valley. It is said that the statue took 6 years to be built, and is worth 3 Crores of construction cost. H.H. Dalai Lama was the one to inaugurate this beauty in 2010, and now it it not just oversees the Nubra Valley from the top, but also faces the Shyok River that flows into Pakistan.
They say that the statue was built on three parameters: Protection of Diskit village, prevention of further war with Pakistan and to promote world peace. Now that’s some cool advice to for all countries to take on, right?
Bang opposite the Maitreya Buddha statue, perched atop a hill is the Diskit monastery. I had to descend the statue elevation, and take my car that drove me to the foot of the monastery. It’s just a 10 minute drive from the Buddha statue.
Also read: Life Of A Monk In Ladakh
I wanted to visit the prayer hall mainly, and was asked to climb ‘some’ stairs, to get to it. After what seemed like a hundred stairs, I managed to climb my way to the door of the prayer hall! I took about 5 stops to breathe (and of course, get a picture!)
As I entered the prayer hall, I was awestruck by the beauty of the decoration inside. I could see all possible colors of cloth hanging as well as kept on the floor. The monastery is beautiful inside out. Within the Tibetian style Gompa, there are beautiful frescos and murals. A captivating feature of the monastery is the statue of Cho Rinpoche or the crowned Buddha, which is a part of the prayer hall. Also there are big drums and various images of the guardian deities inside. And without a doubt, the most beautiful part of the monastery is the panoramic view of Nubra Valley that one can get to see from the top of the monastery.
The monastery houses 100-150 monks and I got a chance to sit down and chat with one, who took me through the life of a Buddhist monk at Diskit. I left the monastery with some Buddhist teachings and a calm mind that made the rest of the day’s exhausting journey, much easier!