In our quest of exploring the cultural aspects of Ladakh, we set out meet and interact with local organizations and NGOs of Ladakh that worked in restoration and awareness of Ladakhi heritage, culture, art and architecture. That is when we heard about Dr. Sonam Wangchok, a key individual who has researched and studied the heritage and culture of Ladakh.
Dr. Sonam Wangchok is a historian and a native of Khardong village in Ladakh. He is the Founder of Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation and the president of International Association for Ladakh Studies. It was wonderful getting insights about the heritage of Ladakh and the hearing of the village lifestyle from him. He introduced us to a monk who manages the Chemdey Monastery. Upon his recommendation we set out on the motorbike to visit Chemdey monastery.
The picturesque location of the monastery makes it an absolute must for anyone who visits Ladakh. At the monastery, we met a very warm and welcoming monk who greeted us with some tea and cookies. He gave us a tour of the of the monastery as we accessed the various sections that depicted the philosophy of Buddhism.
Dedicated to the Drugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism, Chemrey Monastery is situated 40 km from Leh in Ladakh region and is an important center of Buddhist learning. The monastery was founded in 1664 AD by Lama Tagsang Raschen who also founded Hemis monastery. The monastery is also dedicated to King Sengge Namgyal who was instrumental in the spread of Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh.