The monastery complex at Alchi is one of Ladakh's leading tourist attractions and is famous for its ancient religious paintings. The complex's oldest building - known as the Du-Khang dates to the 11th century and has paintings of the Buddha as well as intricate friezes and mandalas. Standing next to the Du-Khang is the Sumstek temple which contains well-preserved carvings and paintings which are more than 900 years old. Elsewhere in the complex, visitors will find more temples decorated with paintings, carvings and other handicrafts.
Visitors should take care to dress respectfully, refrain from smoking or shouting and should be aware that taking photos of the oldest and most precious paintings is forbidden.
The temple complex was added to the 'tentative list' of UNESCO's world heritage sites in 1998.
Basgo Fortress and Temples
The once great citadel of Basgo now stands in ruins on a clifftop overlooking the main route from Leh to Srinagar. The site was once a royal residence in the 15th to 17th centuries and was considered to be impregnable after it survived a 3 years siege by the Mongol and Tibetan armies in the 17th Century. Two temples remain at the site and these are undergoing painstaking restoration work which has been going on for many years and will take many more to complete. Photography inside the temples is forbidden and lucky visitors may be able to witness the highly skilled craftsmen at work restoring the frescos. Visitors can drive up to the fortress and park just a short (but slightly scary) walk from the site. If a site guardian finds you there may be a small fee - otherwise, feel free to wander around.