Thursday, 15 November 2007

Monasteries of the Indus Valley

Unknown monastry, Indus Valley.

After a couple of days I felt it was time to get out of Leh and see some of the surrounding areas in the Indus River Valley, which are richly endowed with Buddhist monasteries like this one. Lasse still wasn't feeling too good, so I went on my own.

The largest monastery of Ladakh is that of Hemis, which is perched inside a canyon. It is home to about 500 monks.

The main building of Hemis.

Inside one of the prayer rooms (or whatever it is). Rich in colours and dark wood monastery interiors tend to be very atmospheric.

The hall has a three story atrium in the middle. Very cool.

Local painter restoring the old paintings.

Another cool monastery: Thiksey Gompa.

The view of the surrounding landscape from the monastery.

Decorations carved in wood at Thiksey.

One of the main chambers at Thiksey with a centrally placed picture of Dalai Lama.

Statues in the inner chamber.

Offerings, or other items of ceremonial value.

Every year in winter the monasteries hold amazing masked dances to celebrate the victory of Buddhism over evil. Normally this would never happen in September when we visited. But as luck would have it, they were shooting an "Incredible India" for the Ministry of Tourism, with the masks and dancers in all their glory.

A monk with a mask.

Dancers in action.

The local band accompanying the dancers with music.

Young monks following the spectacle.

Dancers taking a well earned break with a cup of chai (Indian tea).

Outside Thiksey monastery purple flowers on a grey-brown background.

White stupas in the landscape. According to my guide they are erected in remembrance of different people, but I don't know if that's true.

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