Friday, September 18, 2009

Leh Diary@Day 3

September 6, Sunday: Monasteries and other landmarks

We have a packed day today with visits to the Hemis and Thikshey monasteries and then the Magnetic Hill, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib and confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers.

Hemis Monastery: Located about 47km from Leh and in a gorge, it takes us about an hour and a half to reach, with the scenery changing from brown to green to brown. We know we are approaching Hemis when we start seeing walls with prayers carved on each stone. Built in 1630 by the Dubka Order, Hemis is the largest and the richest monastery in Ladakh. Various valuable scripts and painting are kept here. Legend has, that it even houses a page of the holy Koran. Prayer wheels and paintings flank a large open courtyard. We go inside and bow to a statue of Padmasambhava about 2 storeys high. The inside of the monastery has ornate paintings. I am surprised to see one of Kali too!

Thiksey Monastry: We head back almost halfway towards Leh, with our next stop at Thiksey. We reach here at about lunch and so first head to its café. The monastery opens again by 2.00 PM and we are off, climbing the stairs yet again. The monastery in white, ochre and red appears to “grow” out from the hillock it stands on. It has 10 temples and many lamas. We go straight to the statue of Maitreya (Future Buddha). I make it a point to turn all the prayer bells. I find something comforting about doing so.

We were now off to “sangam”, the confluence of Zanskar and Indus.
Magnetic Hill: We cross this on the way to the confluence. Like promised in all articles, the car travels uphill by itself on neutral for a good 50m. An army person found this phenomena though many say it is simply an optical illusion. Sanjay, Rajat and Rahul get out of the car and record a video. I for one don’t think much of this.

Confluence: We see ourselves approaching the confluence from a distance and it is an amazing sight. We get out of the car and head towards the rivers. It is chilled! That does not stop us from removing our shoes and socks and dipping our feet in the water.

Gurudwara Pathar Sahib: It is time to head back. We halt at the Gurudwara. Legend goes, that when Guru Gobind Singhji was meditating here, a demon tried to kill him by pushing a boulder from a nearby hill. The boulder, however, stopped rolling as it touched the Guru. The Gurudwara houses the boulder. We folded our hands in respect and accepted the prasad closing the day on a sweet and auspicious note.

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