Tag Archives: buddha
The #Shanti #stupa in #Leh #India holds the relics of the #Buddha and stands tall at 12000 ft above sea level
Leh is simply awesome! It has been a couple of days and I am now getting into the groove here. It is a very laid back city. People seem to have all the modern comforts, and still life is very unlike that of a big city. People seem happy and so are we.
We decide to head to the Shanti Stupa. It is perched on the top of a small hill just west of Leh. the hill is actually over at around 11000 ft, but looks tiny when compared to the rest of the surroundings. It affords a panoramic view of the city. The stupa was built in 1980s through Japanese contributions and is a beautiful monument decorated with colourful paintings and enshrines large statues of Buddha, depicting various stages of his life: birth, enlightenment, meditation and death.
The view of the Leh valley from the Shanti Stupa is beautiful. The desert looks like a scene straight of the middle east rather than of a place in hte Himalayas. I guess, thats the stark and naked beauty of Ladakh that cannot be appreciated without a visit. A patch of greenland coexists with a patch of the most barren land that I would have ever seen. On the right is such a desert picture as seen from the Shanti Stupa.
We return to the city for lunch at the World Garden Cafe. It serves great Margharitas. Since the weather is very good, we decide to rent some bikes and move into Shey, the ancient capital of Leh, visit the Thiksey monastery and cool off our heels at the banks of the Indus.
Shey is located about 15 kms south of Leh. It was once the former summer capital of the kings of Ladakh. Thiksey monastery is a stone’s throw from the Shey palace. The monastery was built in the 14th century, and consists of about 12 floors. The incarnate lama’s private abode lies at the top of the monastery. There are about 100 monks of the yellow- hat sect of Buddhism. A new temple was constructed recently in the main courtyard, and contains a large statue of a compassionate Buddha. The H.H. Dalai Lama constructed this Buddha, 15 meters tall, in 1980 to commemorate a visit to Thiksey. The statue is the largest Buddha figure in Ladakh and it took four years to construct. It is made up of clay and covered with gold paint.
I am informed that traditionally, Ladakhi families donated one son to become a lama in a monastery, but this practise is gradually disappearing. I did encounter a young Lama at the Gompa.Tags: ArtefactScapes, buddha, CitiScapes, CulturalScapes, gompa, india, kashmir, ladakh, LadakhScapes, Landscapes, leh, thiksey, yak
Its been a slow start to getting Leh’d. The AMS (acute muntain sickness) has not withered away fully, though I feel much better with the aid of Dismox. A quite breakfast at the guest house with a cuppa chai ensures a slow morning. I venture out into the Moti bazar for a small walk. I like the bazaar, for the shopkeepers do not try to wrestle your attention to sell something. A couple of them advise me to rest for a while before making any ambitious plans for the trip. A short walk down the small roads leads us into the Tibetan Bazaar and into the hubris of the Bus Station. A large crowd has gathered in the vicinity.
There is a street play being enacted and the crowd is enthusiastically cheering both the director and the actor. In the good old days the director was a “madari” and the actor used to be a monkey. I guess animals have rights in Ladakh these days.
We return to the guest house for a hearty lunch and take a nap. Although the time could have been utilized much better, the nap sure did save us from some sunburns. The days are not hot, but the direct rays of the sun coupled with the thin air makes it a little uncomfortable. It is said that a person with his hands in the sun and his feet in the shade can simultaneously suffer from sunburn and frostbite in Ladakh. This may be an exaggeration, but I guess it makes the point clear. Do not mess with the weather in Ladakh.
Later in the afternoon, we decide to scale the peaks of the old palace. Locals reveal a route that passes through the alleys next to the Jama Masjid. It is a decent climb for about 25-30 minutes and provides spectacular views of the city below.
The palace is an old monument (under renovation these days). It provides a glimpse into the mountain architecture of the early 1600s. The building is made in the Tibetian style using stone, mud and wood. It stands tall at 9 stories.
What strikes me immediately is the great difficulty of hauling up tones of stone and building materials to erect the strcture in the 1600s. The alleys in the palace are dark and we just while some time away in its luxurious balconies that offer a great view of the Ladakh skyline. The sun is about to set and a myriad colors are seen over the ledge.
A portrait of the Buddha on a steep mountain slope catches my eye. It is hard to imagine artists making these giant paintings on such unforgiving surfaces. It is a beautiful sunset as seen from the Tsemu monastery. We head down after dark and get some authentic Chinese food for dinner and call it a day.Tags: buddha, CitiScapes, CulturalScapes, gompa, india, kashmir, ladakh, LadakhScapes, Landscapes, leh