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Spitok Valley

SPITOK gompa rising incongruously from the end of the airport runway, makes a good half- day foray from Leh, 10km up the north side of the Indus valley.  A break in the monotony appears 1km before Spitok in the from of the Museum of Ladakh, Culture and military Heritage, a self-congratulatory montage of Indian military achievements in Ladakh, with tributes to the heroic road builders who risked their lived to open Ladakh to the world. There are also a couple of token rooms for 2000years of Ladakhi history.

The fifteenth century monastery, which tumbles down the sides of a steep knoll       to a tight cluster of farmhouses and well-watered fields, is altogether more picturesque. Approached by from the north, or from the south along a footpath that winds through Spitok village, its spacious rooftops command superb views. The main complex is of less interest than the Palden Lumo chapel, perched on a ridge above. Although visiting soldiers from the nearby Indian army barracks consider the deity inside the temple to be Kali Mata, the key- keeper will assure visitors that what many consider to be the black- faced and bloodthirsty Hindu goddess of death and destruction is actually Yidam Dorje Jigjet. Colored electric lights illuminate the cobwebbed chamber of veiled guardian deities whose ferocious faces are only revealed once a year. If you have a torch, check out the 600-year-old paintings on the back wall, partially hidden by eerie chaam masks used during the winter festival.

About Paldan Lumo Chapel/Temple
The Gompa has three chapels of which the highest, the Paldan Lumo temple (Kali Mater), is the most impressive. The temple Gonkhang is approximately a thousand years old.

The main complex, a typical mixture of dusty, dimly lit old prayer halls and vivid modern shrine rooms, is of less interest than the Paldan Lumo chapel, perched on a ridge above. Probably aimed at the mostly Hindu members of the Indian army posted at Leh, a sign outside warns visitors not to "deliberately mistake" the Gon-khang for a Kali temple. Offerings made to the black faced and bloodthirsty Hindu Goddess of death and destruction are, it insists, "not acceptable".

A Built In Du-Khang
From Paldan Lumo temple, on the peak of the mountain, a small path leads past a red Latho to the monastery proper. The built in Dukhang is well worth seeing.

The area around the wall paintings, with its Thankas, prayer flags, bookshelves and books, is well illuminated. Near the Dukhang there are several other chapels of which the new Chokhang is above some stairs. Here funeral ceremonies can be witnessed. Many of the small, old prayer rooms, the head Lama's room, and the rooms of the monk are, unfortunately, no longer shown to foreigners. They contain some wonderful wall paintings, Thankas, silver Chortens, Buddha figures, statues of other deities and hundreds of books but some thoughtless tourist took objects as souvenirs.

The Spitok Gostor Festival
From the level of the Dukhang 19 steps lead up to the inner courtyard with a flagpole around which, on the 28th and 29th days of the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar, the Spitok Gostor is celebrated with mask dances. At this festival the 'Jelbagh' dance masks, like those hanging on the walls of the monastery, are no longer used but rather true to life representations. The monastery has a statue of Kali whose face is only shown once a year.

Shrine Of  Vajra Bhairava
The shrine to Vajra Bhairava, a Tantric guardian deity of the Gelug-pa order, is distinctly spooky. Lit by flickering butter lamps, the cluttered and cobwebbed chamber houses a row of veiled guardian deities whose ferocious faces are only unveiled once a year. After waving incense smoke before them and muttering a few mantras, the key keeper lama will pass around handfuls of sweets newly infused with protective power. If one has a flashlight, check out the 600 year old paintings on the rear wall of the chapel, which is spitok's oldest building.

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Ladakh Places of Interest (Visit Ladakh)

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
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, Skurbuchan 

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 to Ladakh.

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

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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