130-km West Of Leh, Ladakh Region, J&K
Main Attraction: Lamayuru Gompa & Trekking
First Monastery Dates Back To: 10th Century
The First Monastery Of Lamayuru
The first Lamayuru monastery was built under Rinchen Zangbo at the end of
the 10th century, under orders from the king of Ladakh , who altogether
had 108 Gompas built in west Tibet. It was built on the broken mountain in
the valley and consisted of five buildings, of which only the central
building stands today. One can still see some remains of the four corner
buildings to the west.
The Gompa has an impressive 11-headed, 1,000-eyed image of Chenrezig. In its
heyday up to 400 monks lived in the monastery but today there are only 20 to
30 who belong to the yellow hat sect. Many Lamas from Lamayuru now go out to
other parts of Ladakh as teachers.
A Place For All
In the 16th century the monastery was declared a holy site in which even
criminals could seek sanctuary. For that reason even today it is known to
Ladakhis as 'Tharpa Ling', 'Place of freedom'.
Considered A Prime Attraction Since Primitive Times
A major landmark on the old silk route, the Gompa numbers among the 108 (a
spiritually significant number, probably legendary) founded by the Rinchen
Zangpo in the 10th and 11th centuries. However, its craggy seat, believed to
have sheltered Milarepa during his religious odyssey across the Himalayas,
was probably sacred long before the advent of Buddhism, when local people
followed the Shamanical 'Bon' cult.
Passage To Zanskar
The main reason visitors make the short detour from the nearby Srinagar -Leh
road is to photograph the Gompa from the valley
floor, or to pick up the trail to the Prikiti-la pass - gateway to Zanskar,
which begins here.
The footpath from the highway brings one near the main entrance to the
monastery, where one should be able to find the Lama responsible for issuing
entrance tickets and unlocking the door to the Du-khang. Lamayuru's newly
renovated prayer hall houses little of note other than a cave where Naropa,
Milarepa's teacher, is said to have meditated, and a rancid collection of
Yak-butter sculptures. If one is lucky, one will be shown through the tangle
of narrow lanes below the Gompa to a tiny chapel, whose badly damaged murals
of Mandalas and the Tathagata Buddhas are contemporary with those at Alchi.
HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Lamayuru lies too far from either Leh or Kargil, 107-km west, to be
visited in a day trip, so one either has to call in en route between the
two, or else spend the night at the monastery itself. The regular bus
service to Leh departs at 10.00 am and the one to Kargil at noon.
Places of Interest (Visit
Leh is nested in a side valley just to the north of the Indus Valley.
Until 1947 it had close trading relations with Central Asia yak trains would
set off from the Leh Bazaar to complete the stages over the Kaakoam Pass to
Yarkand and Kashgar.
Administering the Valleys of Suru , Drass, Wakha and Bodkarbu, Kargil
lies midway between the alpine valleys of Kashmir and the fertile reaches of
the Indus Valley and ladakh
Thak Thok gompa
shelters a cave in which the apostle Padmasambhava is said to have meditated
during his epic eight-century journey to Tibet.
Dhahanu is situated to the south west of Leh,
around 163 Kms. passing through the beautiful villages of Kaltsey, Domkhar,
Padum is 240 km to the south of Kargil, comes as a bit of an anticlimax
Rangdum is an elliptical expanded plateau surrounded by colourful hills on
the one side and glacier encrusted rocky mountains on the other.
Walled in by the Great Himalayan Divide, Zanskar, literally " Land of
White Copper" has for decades exrted the allure of Shangri La on visitours
Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum Strongdey Zangla Karsha
Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar.
The Suru Valley
Diving two of the world's most formidable mountain ranges, the Suru
Valley winds south from Kargil to the desolate Pensi La the main entry point
the Nubra valley - nubra means green used to be on the trading route
connection Tibet with Turkistan, Also Now as the Valley of Flowers
Drass (3230 m), 60 km west of Kargil on the road to Srinagar, is a small township lying in the centre of the valley of the same name
The Shyok River receives the waters of the Nubra and Changchenmo rivers. It rises from the Khumdang glacier, which can be approached from
Pangong Tso, 15km to the southeast of Leh, is one of the largest
saltwater lakes in Asia, a long narrow strip of water stretching from Ladakh
east into Tibet.
Tso Moriri or "Mountain Lake" is Famous for the large herds of
king, or wild ass, which graze on its shores, the lake of Tso Moriri.