The monastery of Hemis is situated on a green hill, surrounded by spectacular mountains. Hemis is situated around 45 kms in the south of Leh on the west banks of the Indus river. The Hemis monastery is the biggest and very richly endowed monastery of Ladakh. The Hemis monastery was built in 1630 and it belongs to the red sect, Brokpa. It is not visible from the road as it is located in a side valley. Impressive and intriguing, Hemis is different from the other important monasteries of Ladakh. The monastery is decorated on all the four sides by the colourful prayer flags which flutter in the breeze and send the prayers to Lord Buddha.
The main building has white walls. The entrance to the complex is through a big gate which reaches to a big courtyard. The stones of the walls are decorated and also painted with the religious figures. On the north side there are two assembly halls which are accessed by the stairs. As in most of the monasteries one can also see here the guardian deities and the Wheel of Life. Both of them are in good condition. The Hemis monastery also has an important library of Tibetan styles books and a very impressive and valuable collection of Thangkas, gold statues and Stupas embedded with precious stones.
One of the largest Thangkas is also displayed every 11 year during the festival time. The annual festival, commemorating the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, is held for two days in June-July, enlivening the courtyard of the monastery. The festival of dances, where good triumphs over evil in a colourful pageant, is also the annual 'bazaar' where Ladakhis from remote areas buy and sell wares. During the festival time, various rituals and mask dances are performed in this courtyard. Hemis can be visited from Leh comfortably in one day if one is traveling by car or jeep.