Thursday, September 17, 2009

Leh Diary@Day 2

September 5, Saturday: Sights and sounds

I get up early at around 6.00 am, expecting a headache but relieved to find none. I head down for a quiet walk and am joined in some time by the rest. Our plan for the day is a visit to the Shanti Stupa, the Ladakhi music festival and planning logistics for the days to come.

After a breakfast of baked beans and potato rosti washed down with glasses of honey-ginger-lemon tea (something we end up drinking the most in days to come) we head to the Shanti Stupa. Located on a hilltop, right next to our guesthouse, we climb about 560 steps (yes we counted!) to it. It was sunny and windy and we halted after about every 100 steps or so. We reached up only to find that a nice road also leads right up to it!
The Stupa: Built in 1983 by a Japanese monk, with help from the Central and State government, the Stupa is dedicated to world peace. It is white and has various depictions of Buddha. We sit here for almost an hour enjoying the view of the area spread out below us. On our way down, we relish some apricots straight from a tree. Ah! the small joys of life!

The Festival: It is 6.00 pm in the evening and we are off to the banks of river Sindhu for the Ladakhi dance festival. It is cold and the winds whip up. We huddle under huge tents set up for the audience. The festival begins with an ode to the gods- a rhythmic beating of large tablas. The performances begin by villagers of different areas each representing their own culture. The Ladakhi dances, are essentially slow, where the participants will gracefully move the feet and arms and turn around displaying the rich dresses and headgear. The themes of the song vary- from a lullaby for a young prince to an ode to a loved one in the month of spring.
We watch, sip hot tea and click lots of pictures!

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