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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

Bhartruhari Caves, Ujjain

Bhartruhari was the elder brother of the legendary Vikramaditya (probably a step brother). He was unduly attached to his wife, Pingala, who conspired to get Vikramaditya thrown out of Ujjain. Once, it is believed, a Brahmin gave Bhartruhari a fruit which would enable him to live longer. The infatuated Bhartruhari gave his wife the fruit, who, in turn gave the fruit to the horse-keeper of whom she was enamoured. The horse-keeper gave the fruit to a prostitute whom he used to frequent, and this lady felt that the king was the one who should eat such a fruit and went to court and gave it to him. This episode opened Bhartruhari’s eyes to the infidelity of the world around him, and giving the kingdom to Vikramaditya, turned into an ascetic. He is believed to have joined the Nath sect and spent his life in meditation on the outskirts of Ujjain in company with his nephew, Gopichand, who had also renounced the world. The pair of uncle-nephew (mama-bhanja in Hindi) is apparently a legend in the Nath cult. 




The Bhartruhari caves are situated on the banks of the Shipra in what is, even today, an idyllic spot. The caves themselves don’t have much today in terms of sculptures, but entering them is a wonderful experience, well worth the effort, for they are deep below the ground, and are, in fact, a series of caves, and it is even difficult to breathe once we are inside.

Here is a look at some photos of the caves –

On the way down...



The view from the path...




Approaching the cave temples..






Here we are...



Sculptures line the walls... all of them have fallen down.....






A linga inside a depression... wonder if it was always there...



Entering the cave....






Inside.....
















Out at last!



Samhith finds something of interest!



Ah! cows! Samhith's favourite animals....... but this one kicked him!!!



Back up the steps...







Comments

  1. your pictorial travelogues are great!
    I love the way yu always finish with Samhith and his antics....

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  2. @ssstoryteller : thanks a lot! I have been travelling with samhith since he was barely 5-6 months old, and travelling with him makes me look at things from a different angle....

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  3. Is there sufficient lighting inside that cave ?
    Have read a lot of these stories. nice to see the monuments related to it.

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  4. I'd read Vikramadithya stories as a kid. After reading this post, I feel like reading them again.
    Appreciate you for travelling with Samhith even when he was a few months old. Very few mothers take the effort to expose their kids to such delights. Most of my friends (home makers) hold the kids' responsible for their lack of social life and tight schedules.
    Samhith is lucky! :)

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  5. @Chitra:'sufficient'lighting, no... there isnt, but there is a bit of light... and i think it is better that way.. makes you appreciate the kind of meditation he must have done!

    @Bindhu: thanks a lot!! as to social life, well, when we are bombay. it is truly nil. it is only when we travel that we are together as a family, and thus try to travel as much as possible. also, i wanted him to get used to travelling and learn to adjust to whatever conditions are like ( u know what most temples in india are like), so we started when he was small... thankfully, i can say that today, he;s 6 and enjoys 2nd class train travel and ST bus travel too.... unlike most kids his age,,, he knows that if he wants to get somewhere, he has to make do with whats available- transport, room and food!!!

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  6. Excellent and delightful travelogue. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. Hello madam,
    I just visited Ujjain and had Bhasma aarti and also these caves. It is really good to see
    that you had given many details about these
    caves and added as many pictures as possible.
    It's great. Our blessings to Samhith.
    with regards - Suma

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  8. nice pictures. I like reading your blog :)

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  9. nice to read this... any photos or details of throne of Vikramaditya. It is called as simhasan Bathiese. I think it is in Rudra sagar lake, ujjain..

    Thank u
    gopi from Hyderabad

    ReplyDelete
  10. I had read a neethi sloka of bahrtruhari in high school relating to the above episode of the fruit given to him by a brahmana
    The sloka started as " Yaam Chinthaymi satatam, mayi saa viraktha II, Saa anyam chinthayathi......"
    I havent come accross this shloka afterwards.

    Thanks for posting photos of Ujjin
    Vijayakumar
    Bangalore

    ReplyDelete

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