Ura Monastery

On the walk down from the Ura La pass, the footpath winds through pine forests and across lush pastures dotted with chortens and stands of prayer flags. Ura Monastery, or Ura Manggi Lhakhang, is the first building to appear. It stands squarely atop a low, rounded hill, the stone houses of Ura Lower Village clustered just beyond. The site of the annual Ura Yakchoe festival and the site for the villagers’ daily worship, the lhakhang took shape in 1986 to replace an older monastery that had fallen into disrepair.

An impressive clay statue of Guru Rinpoche surrounded by swirling dragons presides over the main chapel, while local painters have decorated walls in all three sanctuaries with rich, symbolic murals taken from the Nyingma Buddhist tradition. The flagstoned courtyard outside was built in 2007 by the villagers, who use it for local gatherings as well as the Yakchoe’s ritual dances.