Glorious Thiksey Gompa is one of Ladakh’s biggest and most recognisable monasteries, photogenically cascading its assorted Tibetan-style buildings down a raised rocky promontory. At its heart, the main dukhang (prayer hall) oozes atmosphere, and a Maitreya temple contains a giant 'future' Buddha whose expression is simultaneously peaceful, smirking and vaguely menacing. Smaller but much more obviously ancient is the gonkhang and the tiny old library up on the rooftop (often closed).
The Thiksey entrance ticket includes entry to a fascinating museum – if anyone's there to open it; it's hidden away beneath the monastery restaurant.
Virtually any Ladakhi monastery will start the day with chanted prayers, and respectful visitors are usually welcome to join or watch. Thiksey's impressive prayer hall and the large number of monks who participate make the experience particularly memorable here. However, it has become so popular that tourists often outnumber monks. Prayers take place between 6am and 7.30am most days.