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Sani Monastery, Kargil

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Sani Monastery, also known as Turtot Gyat, located in the vicinity of the village of Sani, is one of the most popular religious centres for Buddhists in the world. This Gompa or monastery is one of the 8 sacred monasteries in the world. It is said the in older times, Buddhist luminaries such as Naropa, Padmasambhava, and Marpa visited this monastery. Built in the 1st century by the well-known Kushan King, Kanishka, this monastery belongs to the Drukpa Kargyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. This gompa is also counted among the oldest gompas in the regions of Ladakh and Zanskar.

The monastery is home to one of the 108 chortens or stupas, a domed structure serving as a Buddhist shrine, constructed during the 1st century by King Kanishka. The chorten, popular as the Kanika Chorten, measures 20 ft in height and is placed in the backyard of the monastery. The compound of the monastery is rectangular in shape. The dukhand or the assembly hall contains pictures of Chamba, Chenren, and Padmasambhava. A small room, which has a bookshelf having sacred volumes of the Kangyur, the Tibetan Buddhist canon consisting of a list of sacred texts that the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism recognise, is placed inside the monastery. The monastery also has a small Naropa shrine.Every year in the months of July and August, a mask dance is organised at the monastery. Other popular festivals include the Sani Naro-Nasjal and Great Prayer.

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