Our original plan was to take a bus to Kargil from Leh and go directly to Srinagar in Amritsar. But a Spanish friend that we met in Kibber told us to also visit the small towns in Ladakh since we're already in Leh. After hearing his stories, we immediately changed our plans and decided to spend a few days ( 3-4 days) in every small town of Ladakh.
After spending almost two weeks in the capital of Leh we decided to move again, and our next stop was in Alchi which is just 70 km downstream from the capital. The ride to Alchi was so short but fun because of the amazing scenery (which I find very common in this side of India).
About a few minutes before reaching the village, the Indus river came into view as we are passing by a road along its right bank. The water in the river came from Tibet then flows across the entire northern part of India all the way to Pakistan then to the Arabian Sea. After crossing the river over a quaint bridge, a road led us from the banks to the village.
Alchi is a very small village and a monastery located in the Leh district of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir of India. It is situated on the bank of Indus River ans was built in the early 12th and 13th centuries by Hindu Kashmiri artisans.
According to some Ladakhis that I've talked to, Alchi is popularly known as monastic complex of temples called Chos Kor Monastery instead of a village. Unlike the other gompas in Ladakh, The monastery in Alchi is situated on lowland and not on a hilltop. The monastery is consists of numerous Chortens (small stupa) and three major shrines: the Sumtseg, Manjushri temple and the Dukhang (assembly hall).
Since Alchi is a very small town, most visitors come here and spend only a few hours and go back to the capital. We arrived in the village around 9-10 in the morning. After we found a room to settle, we rested for a while and wandered around the town. I noticed that most of the houses are surrounded by vast fields of wheat grass that seemed to go go all the way to the base of the surrounding mountains. The scenery was so beautiful and very calm.
When we entered the monastery complex, we were greeted by an old man wearing traditional dress sitting in front of the complex entrance. The old man spoke to us in their native language perhaps but when he realized that we can't understand him, he just handed us the ticket for the temple (INR50 / person). I told my friend that the old man might want to check if we can understand him because the ticket for Indian national only cost INR20 per head.
The temple is made of wood and most of the parts are still in good shapes including the door frames and the carvings considering that it was built in the early 12th century. The complex has huge Buddha statues, elaborate wood carvings and probably some of the oldest painting in Ladakh which decorates the wall of every temple.
We're glad that we decided to visit this small town of Ladakh. Although short, we really enjoyed our stay here and love the serene atmosphere of the town.