Located around 70 km from the town of Leh on the Sham side is the pretty village of Alchi which is nestled on the banks of the mighty Indus river. The village of Alchi is situated at an altitude of around 10,200 feet above sea level and has a Buddhist Monastery which is regarded as one of the most important Gompas in Ladakh.
There are multiple ways of getting to the village of Alchi from the town of Leh. The first option is to hire a private taxi or bike. The second option is slightly tricky. The bus from Leh to Kargil stops at the bridge where the road turns off, from this point it’s a 4 km walk to the village.
One of the first things about this Buddhist village that travellers will notice is that the village is full of lush greenery something of a rarity in the barren high altitude trans-Himalayan region. The soil in the village is very fertile and provides good and relatively extensive agricultural land. The main road at both side is covered by apricot trees. It is a normal sight to see donkeys (mules) laden with wares and building material during the summers when all the farming and construction activities are in full swing.
While the main attraction is the monastery which is situated on the banks of the Indus river. Alchi is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist centers in Ladakh and also as the monastic jewels of Ladakh. The Alchi monastery dates back to nearly one thousand years and so the effect of the Tibetan influence can be seen in the local culture. There are five shrines in the Choskor temple complex which have some splendid wall paintings.
One of its walls features thousands of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. Three large sized images made of clay painted brightly are its focal attraction. No longer an active religious center, it is looked after by monks from the Likir monastery. Since the last 500 years, the religion is not practiced in the Alchi monastery. Over a period of time the Yellow hat sect (Gelugpa) shifted the religious activities to another place which is 30 kms away, known as Likir.
The village has a small Tibetan handicraft flee market which is located around the monastery complex. A lot of unique handicrafts can be found in the flea market. Bargaining is a skill which will come in very handy while shopping in the market.
Accommodation in Alchi is in plenty and to cater to all kinds of travellers ranging from backpacker home stays and guest houses to luxury hotels. The village has accommodation to meet the needs of every traveller.
Alchi also has plenty of restaurants and eateries that serve very tasty Tibetan, Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The milkshakes and momos are a must-have while in this pretty village.
While in the village Alchi it is a must to feast on the apricots that are grown in the village. The apricots are very sweet and tasty. Though the ride is long, it is worth it as the aura of Alchi makes it the best monastery in Ladakh.
The best time to visit the village of Alchi is during the summer months from mid-May to mid-September. While travelling to Alchi it is advisable to carry light woolens even in the summer months since the temperature in the nights dips well below 10°C.
Alchi is the place to be for travellers who are interested in the history and culture of both Buddhism and Ladakh. A night halt in the village is more than enough to explore the place but one can spend weeks staying in Alchi such is the beauty of the place.
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