Sani Monastery

Sani Monastery of Ladakh belongs to the southern branch of the Drukpa Kagyupa School. It is situated on the road to Kargil, at a distance of approximately 6 km to the west of Padum. The entire Sani Monastery of Ladakh has been built in parts, each dating back to a different century. The chorten inside the oldest part of Sani Monastery is believed to be erected in the 2nd century AD. On the other hand, the Dukhang (assembly hall) of the monastery is said to be constructed in the early 17th century.

The monastery is built in the form of a castle and has the Kanika Stupa in the backyard of its walled complex. Because of the existence of this stupa, it is believed that the monastery was associated with Kanishka, Kushan ruler of 2nd century AD. The central praying hall is situated in the main building of the monastery and stands ornamented with a rich collection of the statues of popular Buddhist divinities and Kargud-pa high lamas. Even the walls of the praying hall are adorned with frescoes and thangkas.

As you exit the main building from the backside, you will come across a small, neglected chapel. Although not in a very good condition, still the chapel stands adorned with some of the most beautiful stucco murals depicting landscapes and floral designs, based on the life of Guru Padmasambhava. Outside the complex of the monastery is one of the eight most important cremation grounds of Tibetan Buddhists. The cemetery stands encircled by a ring of ancient rock-carvings, which reveal a touch of the Indian art.

The Sani Gompa of Leh Ladakh is also alleged to be connected with the famous Indian Yogi Naropa. It is believed that the Yogi meditated under the Kanika Stupa, situated in the backyard of the monastery. The same spot, where the Yogi sat in meditation, now houses a small room with a veiled bronze statue of the Yogi. Every year the statue is unveiled in late July, i.e. on the eve of the Naro-Nasjal Festival. In this festival, the lamas from Bardan Monastery perform masked dances as ritual offering.


Approximately 6 km to the west of Padum.

Belongs To: Southern branch of the Drukpa Kagyupa School.
Attractions: Kanika Stupa.
Festival: Naro-Nasjal Festival.