Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

Alchi Monastery

Alchi Monastery

The Alchi monastery was probably founded in the 11th century.

Alchi is a village in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is located on the bank of Indus River 45 miles / 70 km downstream from the capital in Leh. Unlike the other gompas in Ladakh, Alchi is situated on lowland, not on a hilltop. The Alchi Monastery is located in this village.

Already since the 8th century it came in the wake of the Muslim invasion in India, to the destruction of individual Buddhist villages. During the Mughal invasion in 1197 the Buddhist University of Nalanda and almost all Buddhist monasteries in India were destroyed. In the immediate aftermath, Buddhism almost completely disappeared from the Indian heartland.

Only the monasteries of Alchi in Ladakh and Tabo in Spiti inn India were not destroyed. In contrast to most Buddhist monasteries, Alchi is not prominently visible on mountain slopes. Since also north of Alchi in the Industal monasteries were destroyed it was probably simply overlooked by the invaders. The style of the numerous murals is therefore unique today. In other later monasteries one looks for comparable paintings today in vain.

The second monastery Tabo that originated from this time is located in the Indian region Spiti far away in the Indian West Himalaya to which the Moghul invaders did not advance. The Tabo Monastery has numerous architectural and iconographic features. However, there are no wall paintings comparable with Alchi.