Situated at an altitude of 3600 m above sea level, the monastery of Tiksey is situated about 20 km far from the town of Leh and ranks among the most important monasteries in Ladakh. It is the seat of Tiksey Rinpoche, the main leader of the Gelug School in Ladakh and is the main and leading monastery for more than ten other famous Ladakhi monasteries such as Diskit, Spituk, Likir, and Stok. It is believed that in the early 15th century, Tsongkhapa, the founder of the reformed Gelug School, sent six of his disciples to remote regions of Tibet to spread the teachings of the new school. One of these six was known as Sherab Sangpo.
He went to Ladakh and was the founder of a small monastery at the end of a valley in the village called Stagmo. Palden Sangpo, Sherab's disciple carried on with the work of his teacher and he was the one who founded the Thiksey monastery a few miles away from Stagmo near the River Indus on a sacred hill above a village of the same name.
Housing one of the largest Buddhist statues, the 15 metre tall Champa, the Buddha of Future and located strategically, today, Thiksey is one of the most frequently visited and most photogenic monasteries in Ladakh. About a hundred monks live here. Ngawang Champa Tenzin, born in 1943, places a great emphasis on preservation of the traditional ways of running the monastery and continues to teach both monks and lay villagers. A former member of Indian Parliament, he has helped greatly towards establishing the village school called Lamsang, which is one of the prestigious Ladakhi Lamdon schools.
Thiksey is one of the finest examples of Ladakhi architecture. This Gompa is situated on the top of the hill and forms part of Gelukpa order. The 12-storey monastery complex contains numerous stupas, statues, thankas, wall paintings, swords and a large pillar engraved with the Buddha's teachings apart from the sacred shrines and other precious objects to be seen.
Flying into Leh, the cold desert land, over the magnificent Himalayas is a beautiful and scary experience at once. Leh Palace illuminated by huge halogen lamps looks like a bewitching castle on a hilltop set ablaze in the dark nights of the Leh. Drive in the city is as exciting as the wonders it has in its lap with the long isolated winding road that opens up into a sheer expanse of arid flatness in burnt sienna. There is blinding sun at the top and perhaps at the first impression, a visitor is not likely to appreciate the blessings of the land fully.
Bon and Buddhism rule the lifestyle and culture of the people here. The Chortens (Stupas) and enchanting Gompas (Monasteries) adorn the city with their presence. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful and there is an ominous beauty in the stark surroundings of Ladakh. The Hinayana Buddhist way of life lends a benevolent spirit to the very air of the region.
The days are dry and warm with cool winds blowing. The highest temperature is 25°C in summers and 10°C in winters while the nights are cool with temperatures ranging between 14°C and 8°C. There is heavy rainfall in winters. Recently, there has been increasing incidents of sporadic rainfall throughout the year.