Karsha Monastery

Karsha Monastery (Karsha Gompa) is a Buddhist monastery in the Padum Valley of the Zanskar region of the state of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh in northern India. The Zanskar River flows past the monastery from its source at the Drang Drung glacier of the Pensi La (14,500 feet (4,400 m)). It was founded by the translator, Phagspa Shesrab. The Karsha monastery, also known by the name "Karsha Chamspaling, was founded by Phagspa Shesrab, under the Gelugpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.


Karsha Monastery is the largest and most important monastery in Zanskar. It is attributed to Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), and there are ancient rock-carvings at the site. The oldest remaining structure, an Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig in Tibetan) Chuk-shik-jal, contains wall paintings which seem to associate it with the era of Lo-tsa-wa Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055)

Inside the Monastery

The Karsha monastery is under the control of the younger brother of His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama. Behind his seat in the chapel is a statue of Lhasay Cho Rinpoche, which was brought from Lhasa in the 1960s and has a golden crown with carnelian and turquoise decorations. The monastery also has bone relics of Dorje Rinchen and serves as the residence of approximately 100 monks The most important festival is Karsha Gustor, is held with mask dance also known as (Cham) dance is performed by the Lamas of the Monastery to energetically express the superiority of good over evil forces on the 26th to the 29th day of the 11th Tibetan of month. Mons of the Khesa race were powerful in the past in the region of western Himalayas. The Mons have been Buddhist in the region from the time of the Kushan dynasty, established by Emperor Kanishka. Mons are the dominant population in the village in the Zanskar valley and said to belong to an Aryan race linked to Kanishka's period as their features do not match with the local tribes or with the Mongolians. The Mons built 30 chortens, monasteries and temples, including the Kursha Monastery in the main Zanskar valley; some of the other monasteries built by them are the: Teta, Muni, Phugtal, Pune, Burdal, Togrimo, Padum, Pipting, Tondhe, Zangla, Linshot and Sumda. Gelugpa monastery is another important monastery that is located in Khursha village, which has an excellent display of mural arts