Matho Monastery is a beautiful monastery located at a distance of 22 kilometers from Leh. The monastery is best known for its scenic location, colorful paintings, and Shakyamuni Buddha statues painted in gold.
It also houses a number of very beautiful old thangkas, some of which are thought to have been brought from Tibet in the first half of the 15th century when the monastery was founded.
Matho is one of the lesser visited monasteries of Ladakh that does not receive as many tourists as monasteries like Thiksey or Hemis do. But it is no lesser in beauty and also offers a panoramic view of the valley around.
We visited Matho Monastery during my recent two-month-long road trip to Leh Ladakh. The post below provides a brief narration of our visit and several other necessary details about the monastery that can be of help if you are planning to visit there. To read the previous parts of this travelogue, you can follow the links below.
Journey So Far:
- Thiksey Monastery – Day 16
- Shanti Stupa – Day 16
- Sindhu Ghat – Day 17
- Magnetic Hill – Day 17
- Leh Palace – Day 19
- Leh to Tso Moriri – Day 21
- Yaye Tso Lake & Hor La Pass – Day 21
- Sightseeing in Karzok Village – Day 22
- Tso Kar Lake – Day 22
- Hemis Monastery – Day 23
- Stakna Monastery – Day 23
Below is a short video of our visit to the monastery. You can take a look at it and it can help you decide whether you should include it in your itinerary or not.
Day 23: Ladakh Monastery Tour
Monasteries in Ladakh are not only religiously important but also an integral part of the tourism industry here. Some of these colorful monasteries date back to the 7th century and are known for their teachings, traditions, festivals, and even architecture.
These ancient and hundreds of years old structures attract a fair share of visitors each year. Some people even keep a day in their itineraries for the monastery tour in and around Leh.
A trip to Ladakh is incomplete unless you have been to its grand and magnificent monasteries. I will still strongly recommend that you visit at least one monastery during your trip.
Some people even keep a day in their itineraries for the monastery tour in and around Leh. We were also among those people. It was the 23rd day of our trip and we decided to dedicate this day to seeing the monasteries near Leh.
The first monastery that we visited on this day was the Hemis Monastery. After spending an hour there, we then went to Stakna Monastery and spent some time there as well.
The third monastery on our list was Matho Monastery. It is located only about 13 kilometers from Stakna. The condition of the road was excellent and we covered the distance in about 20-25 minutes, with a couple of photography breaks in between.
For any other information on visiting Ladakh including itinerary planning, places to visit, and safety tips, you can also take a look at How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh – A Complete Travel Guide.
There are a few things about visiting Matho Monastery that are worth a note. The first one is that the drive is very scenic and you will just love the views.
The second is the color of the monastery. I think this is a thing with all the monasteries in Ladakh. They all have a certain vibrant color theme that looks very beautiful.
For example, Thiksey Monastery is mostly Yellow from the outside. It is actually Okrah color but it looks more yellow in my opinion.
Hemis Monastery has a blue color on the outside of its walls. There are other colors as well but blue is the dominating one. Stakna Monastery is all white on the outside.
Following the same pattern, Matho Monastery has vibrant blue and dark brown colors on its walls. Against the backdrop of blue sky and barren brown mountains, it really makes the building stand out and look pretty.
There are a total of 3 temples inside the monastery. The first one is the old temple and the other two were recently constructed.
All three temples have a grand statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. The statue in the newest temple is the largest one as compared to the ones in the other two temples.
The walls of the monastery have very colorful paintings. There is a small chapel on the top story containing images of Sakya Pandita and other Sakya lamas.
The monastery also has a museum adjoining it with a number of very beautiful old thangkas, some of which are thought to have been brought from Tibet in the first half of the 15th century when the monastery was founded.
Matho Monastery Festival
Also known as the festival of the Oracles, it takes place around the Buddhist new year, usually in the first half of March.
Two monks are chosen every three years to get ready as potential receptacles. During this festival, two oracles, known as “Rongtsan”, are said to inhabit for a few hours the body of these two monks.
The purpose of these oracles is to attempt to predict the fortunes of the local village communities for the coming year. When possessed they are said to be able to perform many astounding feats and answer questions about the prospects for Matho and Ladakh for the coming year.
When we arrived at the monastery, there was a lot of construction and repair work going on in its courtyard. There were a lot of carpenters and artists working on the paintings and the woodwork in the monastery.
The Lamas were mostly busy overseeing the work but they still took time out to open the temple gates for us. It was only me and my friend there at the time, no other tourists at all.
We paid respect in the temple, clicked some pictures, and shot some videos. We wanted to spend some more time at the monastery but did not wish to bother the Lamas attending us. So in about 30 minutes, we decided to move on to our next destination.
While we were there, due to the construction work and the laborers, there was a lot of noise around. But I am sure that at other times, this monastery will be a very peaceful place and it will be great to spend some time here.
The snow-capped peaks, visible from the monastery complex, just add to an already beautiful sight and experience. I am sure that at the time of sunset, all of this would look even more charming.
How to reach Matho Monastery
For this part, I am assuming you are already in Leh town. I will explain how you can get to Matho Monastery from Leh or the best way to plan a visit here but in case you were wondering how to get to Ladakh first, then I will recommend reading How to reach Ladakh by Bike, Car, Bus, Train, and Flight.
Once you have reached Leh town, visiting Matho Gompa is fairly easy. The village and the monastery are located about 22 kilometers from Leh towards Karu, on Manali to Leh route.
As you travel from Leh towards Karu, turn right from the main chown in Choglamsar. After that, you will travel through the small village of Chushoot to arrive in Matho.
The condition of the road is good and by your own vehicle, it will not take you more than 30 – 40 minutes to reach the monastery. A return trip here from Leh will take about 2-3 hours.
Some other nearby places that you can include with your trip are the monasteries of Thiksey, Stakna, Hemis, Shey, and Druk White Lotus School (Rancho School). Yes, I am talking about the same school from the movie 3 Idiots.
Where to Stay
There is no option of staying overnight at the monastery which a lot of people plan for. The best thing to do would be to stay in Leh and plan a day visit to Matho.
Start early from Leh and you can also cover Thiksey, Stakna, and Shey monasteries and Rancho school as well on the same day. If you would, however, stay somewhere closer, then you can also look for an option in Karu and Upshi.
Best time to visit Matho Monastery
The best time to visit the monastery will be the same as the best time to visit Ladakh. The ideal time will be anywhere between May to September.
In these months, the weather is favorable, roads are all open and accommodation is easily available. If you were traveling in the winter months, you will have to board a flight to Leh and then reach Matho from there.
BSNL, Jio, and Airtel have coverage at Matho Monastery as long as you have a postpaid phone. Prepaid phones do not work here or anywhere else in Ladakh.
Matho Monastery Timings
The monastery is open for visitors from 6 AM to 6 PM every day, including Sundays. It is open even on all public holidays but remains closed from 1 pm to 2 pm during lunch hours.
Matho Monastery Entry Fee
There is an entry fee of Rs. 30 per person for visiting the monastery.
No, you do not need to obtain a permit for visiting the monastery. You can just reach there, buy the ticket and enter. Inner Line Permit is in fact not required to visit anywhere in Leh City.
It is only needed when you travel from Leh to other areas of Ladakh like Nubra or Pangong. You can just reach Matho and visit the monastery without needing to get any permit at all.
- Journey Ahead: Stok Palace – A Heritage Hotel
After Matho Gompa, our next destination was Stok Palace which was located at a distance of about 18 kilometers. That actually turned out to be a disappointment and I regretted going that way. Please click on the link above to continue reading the next part of this travelogue.
I hope the travelogue, pictures, and information above on the Matho Monastery were of help. If you have any questions, you can contact me on Instagram and I will be happy to answer. You can also consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and asking a question there.
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