around a lumpy outcrop of eroded rocks, 4-km up the valley from
Chemrey, the small Gompa of Thak Thok (pronounced Tak Tak and
meaning "top of the rocks") is the sole representative in Ladakh
of the ancient Nyingmapa order.
The Main Temple
The main shrine here is a cave in which the apostle
Padmasambhava is said to have meditated during his epic 8th
century journey to Tibet. Blackened over the years by sticky but
ter-lamp and incense smoke, the dark and mysterious grotto is
now somewhat upstaged by the monastery's more modern wings
nearby. As well as some spectacular thirty-year-old wall
paintings, the Urgyan Photan Du-khang harbours a collection of
multicoloured yak butter candle sculptures made by the head
For a glimpse of "State of the art" Buddhist iconography, head
to the top of Thak Thok village, where a shiny new temple houses
a row of huge gleaming Buddhas, decked out in silk robes and
surrounded by garish modern murals.
Apart from during the annual festivals of Thak Thok Tse Chu
(9-11 of the sixth Tibetan month) and viz Thak Thok Manchog
(20-29 of the ninth Tibetan month), the village itself is a
tranquil place, blessed with serene views south over the snowy
mountains behind Hemis.
Three buses a day leave Leh for Thak Thok: the first and
most convenient at 10.30 am, and the last at 4.00 pm, returning
at 7.00 pm.
Accommodation is available in the J&KTDC tourist bungalow. There
are also plenty of ideal camping spots beside the river,
although as ever one should seek permission before putting up a
tent on someone's field.