Hemis Gompa is the biggest and the most famous Gompa
. It is situated 49 km from Leh
on the Leh-Manali
road. Hemis was built during the reign of Sengge Namgyal in 1630. It flourished under the Namgyal dynasty, as the royalty favored the Drukpa sect which managed the monastery.
The monastery is divided into two parts, the assembly hall and main temple. The hall is known as Dukhang and the temple is known as Tshogkhang. During the festival the dancers use the hall as their green room. The verandahs have several wall paintings, among are them the Buddhist 'Wheel of life' (Kalachakra) and the 'Lords of the Four Quarters', besides rows of prayer wheels. Hemis Chheshu is celebrated with great pomp and show commemorating the birthday of Guru Padmasambhav. It is celebrated in late June or early July.
Once every 12 years, the Hemis festival hosts the ritual unrolling of a giant tangka, the Gompa's prized possession, which covers the entire facade of the building. It's decorated with pearls, precious stones and embroidered by women, whose hands are now revered as holy relics. Among the treasures on display is an exquisite idol of Buddha (Sakyamuni), also inlaid with jewels. The serene faced colossus sits in the Cho-khang at the far end of the courtyard along with a couple of richly inlaid chortens.