Although it is already on the map of attractive tourist spots in the cold desert, the administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh decided to explore the full potential of the 8.5-meter-tall statue of “Chamba ( Buddha Maitreya)” at Karchey Khar in Kargil District as a tourist destination.
In addition to taking effective measures to preserve its historic statue, the UT administration has decided to popularize this site to attract maximum tourists in general and foreigners in particular.
Ladakh Lieutenant Governor RK Mathur visited the 8.5 meter tall Chamba (Buddha Maitreya) statue at Karchey Khar on Saturday. Historian Mohammad Sadiq explained the history of the statue and shared the efforts made for the preservation of the statue and the tomb.
The Lieutenant Governor stressed the need for a protective wall for the statue and to fully utilize its potential as a tourist destination.
Importance of this monastery
“Chamba (Buddha Maitreya)” or “Mulbekh Gompa” is called a main monastery in Kargil. Among the many Buddhist monasteries located in Ladakh, this monastery is very special and attracts tourists visiting Ladakh.
The statue is the 30-foot-long rock carving of the “future Buddha”, known as Mulbekh Chamba, which attracts anyone crossing the Srinagar-Leh national highway.
The statue is an amalgamation of Saivite esoteric symbolism with Buddhist artwork. The monastery and the statue are located on the road on top of a hill.
The statue is carved on a large rock by the side of the road. The statue represents a standing “Buddha Maitreya” or “Buddha of the future”. Various scholars and religious practitioners have highlighted Kashmir and Kushan influence in the designs and style of carving.
The statue predates the Tibetan cultural influence which is evident in other works created in later periods.
The monastery which is just over the highway and located on a steep rock about 650 feet above the road, actually consists of two different monasteries – one Drukpa or the Red Hat sect and another Gelugpa or the sect Yellow Hat.
The sculpture was carved probably in the first century BC during the Kushan period. The “Future Buddha” is also known as “Chamba” and for this reason the monastery is often referred to as “Mulbekh Chamba”.