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Shey Monastery


SHEY, 15 Kms upstream from Leh. The palace is belived to have been the seat of power of the pre-Tibetan kings.A 7.5 metre high copper statue of Buddha,plated with gold,and the largest of its kind,is installed in the palace.  Leh and once the capital of Ladakh, is now all but deserted, the royal family having been forced to abandon it by the Dogras midway through the nineteenth century. Only a semi- derelict palace, a small gompa and a profusion of chortens remain, clustered around a bleached spur of rock that just into the fertile floor of the Indus Valley. The ruins overlook the main highway, and can be reached on the frequent minibuses between Leh bus stand and Tikse.Alternatively; you could walk to Shey from Tikse monastery along a windy path that passes through one of Ladakh’s biggest chorten fields with hundreds of whitewashed shrines of varying size scattered across the surreal desert landscape.

The Palace, a smaller and more dilapidated version of one in Leh, sits astride the ridge below an ancient fort. Crowned by a golden chorten spire, its pride and joy is the colossal metal Shakyamuni Buddha housed in its ruined split-level temple ; if it’s closed a key-keeper will late you in for Rs20. Installed in 1633, the twelve-meter icon allegedly contains a hoard of precious stones, mandalas and powerful charms. Entering from a painted antechamber, you come face to face with the Buddha’s huge feet, soles pointing upwards. Upstairs, a balcony surrounding the statue’s torso surveys the massive Buddha in better light. Preserved for centuries by thick soot from votary butter lamps, the gold-tinted murals coating the walls are among the finest in the valley.

Five minutes’ walk from the shikhar restaurant at the base of the palace, and past an area of walled-in chortens, stands a temple, enshrining anoher massive Sakyamuni statue. Best viewed from the mezzanine veranda on the first floor, it is slightly older than its cousin up the hill. The descendants of the Nepali metalworkers who made it, brought here by Sengge Namgyal, still live and work in the isolated village of chilling (on the River Zanskar),famous for its traditional silverware.                                    

Easily missed as you whizz past on the rod is Shey’s most ancient monument. The rock carving of the five Tathagata or “Thus gone” Buddhas, distinguished by their respective vehicles and hand position, appears on a smooth slab of stone on the edge of the highway; it was probably carved soon after the eight century, before the “Second Spreading”. The large central figure with hands held in the gesture of preaching(turning the wheel of drama), is the Buddha Resplendent, Vairocana, whose image is central in many of the Alchi murals.

Shey's Festivity
In July the Metukba festival takes place in the Shey Gompa with one day of prayers for the well being of all life in the entire world. The upper chapel of the Shey Gompa is used for everyday functions; it surrounds the Buddha figure's head as a sort of balcony. The lower, somewhat larger, chapel houses a large collection of Thankas and a library. All the old Thankas bear the stamp of the 'Gompa Association, Ladakh '.

The best time to visit the Shey Gompa is between 7.00 and 9.00 am or 5.00 and 6.00pm since the monks perform their prayer devotions at these times. The Gompa is usually closed to the public at other times. Near Shey there is a field with an impressive collection of hundreds of small Stupas and Mani Walls.

The Temple Of Shakyamini
Fine minutes walk across the fields from the palace, in the centre of a Chorten strewn plain, stands a temple, enshrining another massive Shakyamuni statue (Daily 7.00 am - 9.00 am & 5.00 pm - 6.00 pm). Best viewed from the mezzanine verandah on the first floor, it is slightly older than its cousin up the hill. The descendants of the Nepali metalworkers who made it, brought here by Sengge Namgyal, still live and work in the isolated village of chilling famous for its traditional silver ware. Downstairs, the Gompa's Du-khang contains dusty old Thangkas and manuscripts.

Shey's Ancient Monument
Easily missed as one whizz past on the road is Shey's most ancient monument. The rock carving of the five 'Tathagata' or "Thus gone" Buddhas, distinguished by their respective vehicles and hand positions, appears on a smooth slab of stone on the edge of the highway; it was probably carved soon after the 8th century, before the "Second Spreading". The large central figure with hands held in the gesture of preaching (turning the wheel of Dharma), is the Buddha Resplendent, Vairocana, whose image is central in many of the Alchi murals.

Shey Oracle
As in Mulbekh, Tikse, Matho, Stok and other Ladakh villages, Shey has an oracle. During the Shey Shublas, the August harvest festival, the Shey oracle rides on a horse and stops at various places around Shey to prophesise the future. The oracle, a Shey layman, starts at the Tuba Gompa where he engages in a two or three day prayer, while in a trance, in order to be possessed and become an oracle.

The Shey oracle is held in the highest regard and viewed as a God who has achieved the highest level of existence. Other oracles, especially those in Tikse and Stok, are not so well regarded, but are at the same time feared and revered because of their spiritual state. It is said that if one asks a question of an oracle, but disbelieves the answer and goes to another oracle, no answer will be given.

HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Regular minibuses ply from Leh and Tikse.



 

Ladakh Places of Interest (Visit Ladakh)

Leh
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.

Kargil

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
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
Dhahanu is situated to the south west of Leh, around 163 Kms. passing through the beautiful villages of Kaltsey, Domkhar, Skurbuchan 


Padum
Padum is 240 km to the south of Kargil, comes as a bit of an anticlimax

Rangdum
Rangdum is an elliptical expanded plateau surrounded by colourful hills on the one side and glacier encrusted rocky mountains on the other. 


Zanskar
Walled in by the Great Himalayan Divide, Zanskar, literally " Land of White Copper" has for decades exrted the allure of Shangri La on visitours to Ladakh.

Zangla
Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum Strongdey Zangla Karsha Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar.
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Valley of Ladakh

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 for Zanskar. 

Nubra Valley
the Nubra valley  - nubra means green used to be on the trading route  connection Tibet with Turkistan, Also Now  as the Valley of Flowers more ...

Drass Valley
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 . 

Shyok Valley
The Shyok River receives the waters of the Nubra and Changchenmo rivers. It rises from the Khumdang glacier, which can be approached from Shyok. 


Pangong Tso
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
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.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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