FACTS & FIGURES
May to September
A busy village in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, Alchi is
tucked away in the Himalayan region of Ladakh at an altitude of around
3,500 m above sea level. Alchi is nestled in the valley of the Indus River
along the ancient trade route and is famous for its gompas. It is
connected to Leh with a road network.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Alchi has an extreme climate with icy winters and normal summers.
In summer, the maximum temperature can rise to 25°C and go down to a
minimum of around 12°C. Protection against sunburn is necessary in this
time of the year. In winters, the maximum temperature hovers around 15°C
and minimum temperature can drop to -30°C. The best season to visit this
place is from May to September.
The region around Alchi was once vital for trade and cultural
contact with the rest of India. When Islamic armies entered the
subcontinent, what first captured their attention were the Buddhist
monuments. Islam disallows idol worship and their word for idol was, in
fact, the term Buddha. It was, therefore, the Buddhist monuments and
monasteries that suffered most under the hand of iconoclasm. However,
Alchi, set amidst the barren gorges of the Indus River and desolate
mountains, escaped destruction and some of the 900-year-old paintings and
murals are so well preserved that they appear to have been painted just
The shrines at Alchi, some of which date back to the late eleventh
century, are considered by scholars to be among the most extensive
examples of Buddhist art in Kashmir. Du-Khang is the earliest temple at
Alchi, founded by Kal-dan Shes-rab around the 11th century AD. There is an
elaborately carved doorway with panels of tiny Bodhisattvas and guardian
figures. The walls are adorned with mandalas and sacred forms that
illustrate the structure of Buddhist cosmology.
Sum-tsek is a triple-storied temple with a carved wooden façade consisting
of pillars, carved brackets, and capitals. The walls of the halls are
covered with mandalas in vibrant colors, standing figures of Bodhisattvas,
Manjushri (the embodiment of wisdom), Avalokiteshvara, and Maitreya
Lotsawa Lha-Khang and Manjushri Lha-Khang are two adjoining shrines that
share a similar plan. The square shrine has four central columns that hold
up the raised roof. Within the shrine of Manjushri are four large plaster
images of the Bodhisattva. The murals of the temple follow the theme of
the thousand Buddha while gods and goddesses dominate the wall space.
Lha-Khang Soma is a structure constructed later in comparison to other
shrines of Alchi. Within the small square room is a chorten or votive
stupa. Columns that support the roof have wonderful carved brackets with
lion faces. Walls of the shrine are painted with the images of Vairochana,
Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and guardian figures. The doorway is decorated and
protected as usual with the image of Mahakala.
PLACES AROUND ALCHI
The region has several spectacular monasteries that seem to grow
out of the rugged escarpments and mountain ridges. There are monasteries
at Shey, Thikse, and Hemis, which have a wealth of Buddhist images,
murals, and carvings.
Leh is the capital of Ladakh Autonomous Council and the most convenient
gateway to Ladakh. The sites to visit include Leh Palace, Leh Mosque, and
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
Hemis festival is celebrated at Hemis monastery every year in the
month of June. This three-day festival provides a spectacle of Ladakhi
culture and living traditions.
Ladakh Festival is celebrated all over the region for 15 days every year.
Many cultural and sports events are held during this festival. Major
attractions include the masked dances and polo and archery competitions.
HOW TO REACH
BY AIR - Leh is the nearest airport from Alchi,
which can be reached by either bus or taxi. Alliance Air flights connect
Leh with Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu, and Srinagar through regular flights.
BY ROAD - Alchi is connected to Leh through regular buses. Taxis are also
available on hire to reach Alchi. The Alchi-Manali road is one of the two
major road networks that connect this place with the rest of India. This
is the world's second highest motorable road, reaching 5328 m at Taglang
La. The road is usually open between the months of June and mid-October.
Tourism-of-India.com provides complete information about tourism in Alchi.
Tourism-of-India.com offers various tour packages to make your visit
comfortable. You can pick the one that suits you most.