You can visit Thiksey Museum and enjoy an hour browsing exhibits unfolding Buddhist perspective of life.
Thiksey Museum is a few steps away from the main gate of Thiksey Monastery in Thiksey Village, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir. The two-room museum with not much artistic merit is a good introduction to the culture that revolved around Buddhism and heavily relied on local resources. The art may not be very pleasing to eyes but is revealing. Bright color masks trigger fear. Costumes in bold colors used for religious and tantric ceremonies feature Buddhist symbols. Various special objects symbolize principles of good life and wisdom. Ordinary weapons are used to destroy negative and evil forces during rituals.
The collection comprises both secular and religious objects. All objects are encased in glass showcases. In the second room, some objects are displayed close to the ceiling, too high to view clearly and easily.
The exhibits include prayer objects, scriptures, shields, statues, traditional musical instruments, utensils, and weapons. The displays also feature masks, mantras, and musical instruments that identify with unique Buddhist practices and rituals.
Thirteen Interesting Exhibits
1. Clay and cotton molds used to sculpt more than forty feet tall Maitraya Buddha Statue during 1977-80
2. A wooden damaru (handheld drum) that is identical to the damaru used by Hindu God Shiva
3. An ornament mainly made of human bones and used in mask dances and some tantric rituals
4. A pair of glasses made of clear stone. I saw such glasses for the first time in the monastery.
5. Colorful sand mandala, a religious drawing by monks
6. A leather bag and bamboo plaited box covered with leather for storage
7. Vajra, a diamond or thunderbolt scepter, symbolizes imperturbableness that is an ability to stay calm and composed even during difficult times.
8. Twenty volumes of handwritten Prajnaparamita Prayer Texts
9. Masks such as the Mask of Goddess Palden Lhamo (Sri Devi), Mask of Lion, Mask of Durdak (lord of cremation), Mask of Hatuk, and Mask of Mahakala
10. Headgear of yellow hat sect of Buddhism
11. Tibetan aristocratic shoes
12. Costume used in Grand Empowerment Ceremony
13. Ten ritual weapons:
- Ankusha, a sacred hook that “pulls” people who question Buddhism doctrine.
- A sword combats ignorance and other root poisons.
- A battle-axe facilitates killing of mundane desires.
- Phurba, a three-edge dagger, controls demons.
- An effigy of Rudra (called Linga) on a black cloth. Rudra embodies negative forces, including sins. The effigy is used to destroy evil forces during tantric rituals. The mask (cham) dancers use the effigy of dough to destroy the forces. A chain is used to bind limbs of the Linga, whereas the dough effigy is stored in the triangular box.
- An animal horn filled with mustard seeds helps in summoning the evil forces.
- A metallic rosary for chanting incantations
- A bow and arrow represents wisdom and method required for enlightenment.
- A hammer hammers negative forces.
- A rope to catch demons
Visiting hours: 06:00 A.M. – 05:00 P.M.
Lunch Break: 12:00 – 12:30 P.M.
Tea Break: 03:00-03:15 P.M.
Entry fee: INR 30 per person
Time required browsing the exhibits: up to one hour