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A visit to monastery in leh is a very good experience for all travelers, life becomes dormant here in winters and many people migrate to other places or get holed in the trenches under their mud houses. After the winter passes sunshine  brightens the atmosphere. A herald of the spring lures in the air to paint this solitary town of leh with green and yellow colors of sunflower. The aura of burning oil and incense fills the halls of monasteries and deities clad in shinning robes stare in the opposite mountains visible from the broken window frame. From the myriad colors of heaven are formed the dappled prayer flags which are roped outside the monasteries and ripple there in every weather to send prayers off to the mountains.

thiksey ladakh

Looking at leh town from the edge of thiksey Monastery. photo cc. Michele

There lama’s dabbed their eyes and  bald heads with saffron water getting ready for the prayer ceremonies and the calculating lama fleeces through a rosary under his folded robe. The peaks of mountains look like jewels shining in the distance and brim the mustard fields with their shade, A rippling wind make noises as it touches their peaks, Monks marooned in their robes gather in the main hall of the monastery and begin to chant holy scriptures & drink the salt tea. the old monks beat the drum and  their eyes meet the panoramic views of the mountains and mustard fields below. In the soaking light monastery looks like a treasure house with old artifacts.

hemis monastery

Deity of guru padmasambhava at hemis monastery

Travelers attention is taken by the deity holding weapon of destruction in one hand and human skull in the other hand with thick round earrings on his ears and looking in anger as he wants to come to life and enjoy the world outside which is full with the flaring charm.  village people come with their offerings to pay tribute to the deities. In the distance i see yaks trundling in caravans on the Zig Zag trials carved on the bare mountain carrying loads of vegetables and other stuff which people bring from villages to sell in leh market. As i pass in the leh market a row of street vendors selling dried apricots, raisins & apricot oil. few cars with tourists looking for every opportunity to click the local people especially who are dressed in the local attire & jewellery of which ever westerner becomes envious. The lines of shops in leh market sell shawls, woolen clothing and jewellery from ladakh.

monks at tiksey monastery

monks having a leisure time out side the monastery photo cc. kachwaha

The cloud passes with the wind coming from mountains and striking and wrapping round the monasteries fluttering prayer flags fly like large colored butterflies make ruffing sound as a monk walks up the stairs with a smile and carries a hot tea cattle, there water soaks the mustard fields. The grey land matches with the color of mountains and the river cruises through the farming land. The lamas who has spend most of the time in monastery sped their daily chores early and then pray and do meditation. inside a monastery a table carved with the colorful dragons and thangkas displayed on monastery walls.

Monk inside the hemis monastery, hemis is one of the richest monastery in ladakh.

Monk inside the hemis monastery, hemis is one of the richest monastery in ladakh.

On a rough terrain a wind blows the dust and the outer ridges of mountains form a curving terrain. The deep sunken eyes of a monk tell the story of a devotional life which a person has spent, a prime of youth in the mountains. There a monk blows horn & trumpet, and with the beats jackdaws flutter their wings and the prayer flags whirl in the smoke coming from the monastery kitchen where hot dumplings and thukpa is being prepared. In a polo ground of leh an effigy of ravanna is burned to celebrate the dusshera by migrant laborers & people from different places of India & Nepal. The leh market with small tea shops where hordes of youth come and gossip over tea. on the pavement of the side of street vendors sell apricots,dry fruits, momo’s and spices.

monks and monasteries

Monks blowing horns outside the monastery.

In winters the temperature drops in minus and the life gets tough and boring due to the cold, electricity also is very limited. Monks go on their sojourns to faraway villages for religious teachings and ceremonies. Stark mountains get decorated with snow and the river freezes near it’s banks, willows turn into poles of icicles &  the snow leopard dances on the tune of the trumpets.

Post written by tanveer badyari. Enjoy ladakh tour under the expertise guidance of tanveer.

visit: kashmir ladakh tourism