Stok Gompa Palace & Museum
Location 14 kms from Leh
Lama Lhawang Lotus in 14th Century
Stok Gompa of Ladakh is situated at a distance of approximately 15 km to the south of the Leh town. It dates back to the 14th century and was founded by Lama Lhawang Lotus. Stok is a subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa and belongs to the yellow-hat sect of Buddhism. As you enter the verandah of the monastery, you will come across bright friezes, depicting the Guardians of the Four Directions. The Dukhang of the monastery was repainted, not a long time back, and displays a rich collection of banners and thankas.
The left-side wall is adorned with the images of Vajrapani (Vajra-in-Hand) and Avalokitesvara (Lord of All He Surveys), in his four-armed manifestation. At the same time, the right-side wall stands proud with the images of Sakyamuni (the Historical Buddha) and his two disciples, Amchi (the Buddha Medicine), Tara (the Saviouress) and Nangyalma. There are two thrones inside the Dukhang. The central one has been reserved for the Dalai Lama, while the one on its right is for the head lama of Stok Monastery.
As you exit the Dukhang from the backside, you will come across a small chapel. The chapel holds the distinction of being the oldest structure inside the Stok Monastery of Leh Ladakh. The central image inside the temple is that of Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the yellow-hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. There are also images of Avalokitesvara, in his four-armed manifestation, and Maityreya, the Future Buddha or Buddha of Compassion, inside the chapel. To the right of the Dukhang is another chapel. It boasts of an array of Buddha images, depicting the eight hand gestures of Buddha.
One of the major attractions of the Stok Monastery is its own library. The library has a complete set of the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of the Buddha's teachings. A new temple, dedicated to Avalokitesvara, was added to the monastery some time back. The central image inside the temple is that of Avalokitesvara, with his 1,000 arms and 11 heads. A ritual dance-mask takes place near the gompa, on the 9th and 10th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar.