Shey monastery or Gompa is located near Leh, Ladakh. Shey was the summer capital of the region.
The monastery has two floors. The main hall of the monastery has a large Shakyamuni Buddha that scales the two floors in height. On the walls facing the Buddha, you can find paintings of different sages. You can find many paintings throughout the monastery. When you enter the monastery, you can spot only the soles of the Buddha statue, which will be facing upwards. There are mural paintings in the ground floor. In the first floor, you can find murals of Buddha in many positions. The upper floor is always dark and it is brightened using butter lamp. On the upper floor, there is a large library with many rare manuscripts. You can find many murals of Buddha in different hand gestures here. The monastery and palace are found inside the same complex. There is also a small shrine near the monastery, which holds a Buddha statue.
If you walk close to the edges of the valley, you can spot the official residence of the Lama and photogenic scenic view of the place. From the top of the monastery, you can get a complete view of the valley, Stok, Thikse, Stakna, Matho and Leh.
The butter lamps inside the monastery is said to be left to burn throughout the year. Monks replace the wick and butter to keep it burning continuously. You can find people offering food, jewels and other items to the Buddha and chanting mantras.
The best time to visit is from June to September. The climate will be pleasant and you can also enjoy many rituals and festivals during this season. The route from Leh to the monastery will be clear during this festival. The route becomes dangerous during winter season, which starts in November and ends in May.
The monastery is located on the Upper Indus Valley, which is 15 km away from Leh. This region is located on the way from Leh to Thikse Monastery. From Thikse monastery, Shey is just 4 km away. Tourists need to receive permission to enter the monastery. The inner sanctum of the monastery is usually closed to visitors.
Shey Palace festival or Shey Doo Loo is celebrated inside the palace. This festival falls on July or August. This festival is celebrated to mark the beginning of sowing season. This festival is celebrated for two days and you can find many interesting rituals during this festival. An oracle reader visits the monastery on a horse to conduct rituals and give prophesies.
Shey Rupla is the harvest festival. During this festival, you can find people offering their first crop to the God. Rhupla dance is performed during this festival. This dance is performed by men in tiger outfits. You ca also find oracles, folk dance, music and others. During this festival, women who wish to beget children perform special rituals.
There is a funeral ground near the palace. The dead will be brought on a sedan chair and rituals will be performed before burning the dead and scattering the ash in the river. If you happen to witness such a ceremony, do not try to photograph or join them to learn about the ritual.