Gemur Monastery In Lahaul Valley

 In Places To Visit, Spiti, Travel

Amidst well-manicured gardens and picturesque hilltops in Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, lies the ancient Gemur Gompa in Spiti. Perched at an altitude of 3370 m, this monastery is 700 years old and stands as an embodiment of Buddhist culture and heritage. The monastery houses many ancient Buddhist statues, thankas, musical instruments and texts, which makes it a rich storehouse of Tibetan Buddhism and culture.

Lying just above Gemur Village between Keylong and Jispa on the Manali- Leh highway, Gemur monastery is one of the most easily accessible Monasteries in Lahaul. The main attraction of this religious shrine is the 11th-century statue of goddesses, Marichi and Vajravarahi, who are said to have their origins in Varahi, a Hindu goddess. 

It is also claimed to be the richest monastery in Lahaul Valley and has an amazing bird’s eye view of the entire valley. With brightly painted red and black windows on a white-washed facade, Gemur Monastery is a sight to behold from a distance. There is a huge chorten before the monastery and a road is being built to make it easily accessible. One can see prayer flags fluttering all around the monastery which further enhances the surreal feeling which encompasses this entire monastery.

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History of Gemur Monastery

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The Gemur Monastery is considered as the central seat of Tibetan Buddhism. In religious literature, it is also known as Dge-smon Gsam-bstan chos-gling. It is said to be founded by Tagtshang Raspa in the first half of the 17th century. As per the legends and folklore, Lama Tenzin Paldan of Gemur village constructed this monastery with the help of the Thakurs of Khangsar. Scholars have argued that the monastery was located at a higher altitude and the present structure was relocated to the lower hill in 1870. The woodwork of the temple is credited to Tashi Tamphel. The lamas here belong to the Drukpa Kagyu sect and the monastery attracts monks and nuns who seek to live here and study Tibetan Buddhism.

The main building consists of many brilliantly carved Stupas, and prayer rooms displaying relics and Tibetan art. The monastery also contains ancient Buddhist miniature paintings, wall paintings, chortens, statues and Buddhist artefacts.

It is also widely known for its Tshechu Faid which is held in June in Gemur Monastery, and especially the Cham Dance to commemorate the Fair, which is done by the lamas of the monastery, where the performers wear huge bright coloured animal or birds masks with brightly coloured costumes.

Gemur Monastery Tourism

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  •  Travellers are nowadays very environmentally friendly and look for sustainable travel options, which has led to the rise of eco-friendly accommodations and tours that have a low impact on the environment while allowing tourists to engage with the local culture.
  • Lahaul Valley, being nestled amongst the Himalayas, provides ample opportunities for trekking, mountaineering and river rafting, attracting adventure seekers to the region.
  • With the rise in the popularity of mindfulness and wellness, many tourists come to Gemur Monastery for meditation and spiritual retreats, seeking tranquillity and enlightenment.

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Best time to Visit Gemur Monastery

The best time to visit Gemur Monastery is usually during the summer months of June to September. During this period, the valley is accessible and the roads leading to Lahaul are open and safe for travel, including the Manali-Leh Highway which typically opens around mid-June. This is also the time when the weather is most pleasant with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C,which is  ideal for exploring the monastery and the surrounding valleys.

Summer and early autumn are not only the best weather conditions but it also coincides with the colourful and vibrant festivals celebrated in this region. One of the most significant is the annual festival of Gemur, held in July. This religious and cultural event known as the Tshechu Fair features the ‘Cham Dance or Devil Dance’ performed by the monks in their traditional attire, attracting visitors and scholars from across the world who are interested in the rituals and traditions of Himalayan Buddhism. 

September also brings in the harvest season and it is a time when the entire valley is bustling with agricultural activity and local festivals, offering an excellent opportunity for visitors to witness and engage with the daily life and festivities of the indigenous communities.

How To Reach Gemur Monastery

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Gemur village lies just before Jispa on the Manali-Leh highway. It is located approximately 18 kms after Keylong and 4 kms before Jispa. You can easily take a bus or a taxi to Gemur Village

Tourists can reach the monastery by road. The nearest airport is Kullu Manali Airport in Bhuntar, followed by a road journey to Lahaul Valley. During the summer months, tourists can also travel via the Manali-Leh Highway and then take a detour from the highway to Gemur.

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Stays near Gemur Monastery

There are guesthouses and homestays in the nearby towns and villages, providing basic to comfortable accommodations. During the tourist season, options might expand with seasonal camps and more guesthouses.

Are there any accommodation options near Gemur Monastery?

There are homestays and guest houses around the Monastery and the Gemur Village.

How old is Gemur Monastery?

Gemur Monastery is said to be 700 years old and the centre of Tibetan Buddhism.

How do tourists reach Gemur Monastery?

Gemur Monastery is on the Leh-Manali Highway and 14 kms from Keylong. You can either take a taxi or a car to reach the monastery which is also one of the most easily accessible monasteries in the Lahaul and Spiti region.

Are there any nearby attractions or points of interest to visit along with Gemur Monastery?

You can visit Keylong which is 14 kms from Gemur Village and Jispa which is 4 kms away from Gemur.

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