Ladakh- The City of Monks and Saints


Ladakh – an Eden shrouded in the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. It is the largest plateau of INDIA. With the Kunlun Mountains to the north and Jammu and Kashmir to the west, it is heaven present out there. Ladakh sits on a centuries-old silk route. The wonderland has unmarked territories that invite adventure seekers to come and explore its different phases. Ladakh not only offers a beautiful natural view but also a rich heritage and culture. The cold desert inhabitant is the Indo- Arya tribe. The mighty Indus that flows down the valley was once a guardian to the great Indus Valley civilization. 

Ladakh offers a lot of monasteries to its visitors. These are often present in remote locations on rocky cliffs, across high mountain passes. Exploring those feels like you are in a magical world that time has forgotten about. Ladakh the city of monks has many ‘gompas’ that are still inhabited, while others lay in ruin. Every monastery features Tibetan-style architecture, which is unique. Walls engraved with wooden carvings, spiritual paintings, and ancient relics tell the history of Tibetan Buddhism. There is an endless number of monasteries that Ladakh offer to have a visit on a Ladakh road trip.

Ø Gelupka monks and the Thiksey monastery- 

Gelupka monks built the Tibetan Buddhist monastery ‘Thiksey’ around the 1400s. It is one of the largest monasteries in central Ladakh which is also known as ‘Mini Potala’. It houses the most photographed Buddha statue in INDIA the ‘Maitreya Buddha’ which is 15mt (49Ft) long. Thiksey monastery houses around one hundred monks and a ground for the young’s. Travelers could closely explore this by staying here. 

Monks who have been or will ordinate in the Holy orders as priests are referred to as choir monks. Those monks who are not involved in Holy Orders are known as lay brothers. Even before sunrise monks blow horns from the rooftops. You can enjoy a Tibetan butter tea while listening to monks reciting their morning prayers. The valley of Ladakh is all about peace and wonders. It would take you to the world of silence and peace. A world, where all-mighty buddha attained enlightenment. The wonderland is a complete package, which offers a lot to visitors that one could barely grasp. Many private tour companies offer Ladakh tour packages to the tourists that include visits to monasteries, mountain biking, trekking, rock climbing, etc. 

Ø The great Hemis-         

Hemis Monastery out here in Ladakh is one of the largest and most popular. The walls of the monastery are filled with paintings and sculptures. These walkthroughs would tell you stories that date back centuries. The rich Buddhist culture that once influenced the whole world can be seen here still alive and fresh. The Hemis monastery is located very near to the Nubra valley.

Ø The Mahanaya Buddhists-

The Mahayana Buddhism which is a Tibetan form of Buddhism considers Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader. They play a central role in Ladakh Buddhism. They also follow the concept of emptiness. The basics of Buddhist teachings are the holiness of the Dalai Lama. The Mahayana teachings are rooted back to the teaching that Buddha gave primarily at Vulture Peak, in Bihar, India. The concept of emptiness has now prevailed for years. The radical, complex Buddhist philosophy is self-exploration. According to Mahanaya tradition, the key to the Buddhist path is practice and meditation. 

These are some terms related to monks and Buddhism –

·        Gompas-

The mythology of monks has various tales of spirits and demons which the travelers could explore. The city of monks is full of surprises at every turn. Ladakh has many Gompas which are a spiritual community where the monks live and practice their religion. The annual monks’ festivals are celebrated here which is a must to watch view. The monks fill the city with color and happiness throughout the year. Gompas also play a major role in the economy of the wonderland by attracting tourists and pilgrims.

·        Mandala-

It is a symbolic representation of the universe according to monks. Made of sands on the floors of monasteries or carved out on walls, it is supposed to have magical powers. Mandala is considered to aid in meditation, concentration, and prayers. It depicts four gates which represent the four directions of Earth. The design follows ancient architecture and consists of concentric circles and lines.

·        Thangka-

 These are monk’s religious painting that depicts episodes from the life of Buddha. These are religious art facts, that teach the art of painting. It has historic importance, but most of the tourists are attracted to the beauty of Thangka.

Ø The great Phutkal Monastery- 

The Phutkal monastery in the Zanskar Valley is beautifully carved out on a hill cliff made of beautiful white blocks. This is an important place for monks as they spend their initial years of life here. Tourists visit here in search of peace which is followed by adventure as the legendary Chadar Trek or the frost river walk, is just an hour away. This trek is a major attraction for tourists, who come to visit the Phutkal monastery.

Ø A heaven on earth-

Ladakh is heaven that cannot be described in words. The place feels like something from another world. The beautiful terrains, high mountains, mighty rivers will give you memories that you cannot forget. The cultural side of Ladakh is a wonder on its own. Monks all around, followed by prayers and chanting will make your soul pure and happy. It is a perfect hideout from the rush of today’s world. The unmarked land will fill you with love and kindness. You will get to learn a lot from the monks and saints. A Ladakh bike trip is the perfect thing that you can do to explore each aspect of the wonderland. Conquering the high terrains and passages of Ladakh on a bike is a must to visit. This place would let you all for it.

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