Sankar Monastery

For this one, surprise, surprise, we’re not sending you uphill! And if you walk to this shrine, you will see a charming part of Leh that tourists usually miss. The excursion is soothing and definitely worthwhile.

Sankar Monastery is the only monastery built on flat land in Leh, and a subsidiary of the Spituk Monastery. It is the seat of the Yellow Hat Sect of Buddhists as the head of the sect resides here. The building is modern in style and its inner sanctuary has two images – one of Tsong-kha-pa, founder of the sect, and the other of Avalokitesvara, with 1,000 arms and 11 heads.

To get here, stroll north of Leh along Sankar Road, and leave behind the higgledy-piggledy structures of daily living in the town. Walk further and you come upon charming pavements that follow an amazing network of canals while pretty farmhouses compete for your attention. Sankar Gompa is located on a small road that turns left off the main road and is a quiet place to rest after you visit the monastery.

Next, walk a kilometre uphill to the Donkey Sanctuary, a retirement home for ageng and injured donkeys! Not far from here, check out the 11th-century Tisuru Stupa, a bulky, partly restored mud-brick ruin that looks more like a step pyramid. Your outing will take only a couple of hours, or more if you want to further slow the pace. Recommended if you’re not on a tight schedule.