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Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Kalady - Adi Shankara Janmabhoomi Kshetram

5 Kms from the bustling Cochin International Airport is the picturesque town of Kalady, situated on the banks of the Periyar River, here known as the Poorna. In this small village lived a pious Namboothiri couple, who prayed to Lord Shiva for a child. Pleased with their devotion, the lord gave them a choice – they could either have a long lived, but stupid son, or choose an intelligent one, who would walk on this earth for a scant 16 years. The couple unanimously and unwaveringly chose the latter – the son whom they named after the lord as ‘Shankara’, who would make his parents proud, and grow to be the teacher of all teachers – the Adi Shankaracharya .       When Shankara was a child , his old mother found it difficult to walk to the river for her daily ablutions. Shankara prayed to Krishna, his family deity to help his mother, who blessed him and decreed that the river would follow on the footsteps of Shankara. This not only changed the course of the river here, but also gave a

Thekkady - Periyar Tiger Reserve

The Periyar is the longest river in Kerala, and is thus the lifeline of the state. The Periyar Lake is an artificial one created by the building of the MullaPeriyar Dam in 1895. What was started as a game reserve by the British, after independence became a wildlife sanctuary, and later, the Periyar Tiger Reserve. While the area where the reserve is located is well known as Thekkady, the town is named Kumily, and is located on the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu. Kumily is about 250 Kms from Trivandrum and 110 Kms from Kottayam. On the Tamilnadu side, it is easily approachable from Madurai, which is also 110Kms away. There are lots of regular KSRTC (Kerala State transport Corporation) buses available to Kumily from Kottayam, and the 3 ½ hour journey takes us through picturesque mountains covered with rubber and tea/coffee and spice plantations. Though it was the month of May, and the period of the Agni Nakshatram (the hottest period of the season), as we approached Thekkady, there wa