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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

Badami Cave Temples Part 4

The fourth cave at Badami is the only Jain cave among the four. This is also by far the simplest cave, though there are quite a lot of renditions of the Jain Tirthankars. This was also the only cave which the school students gave a miss, so it was practically empty! Unfortunately, this cave seems to get less than its rightful share of eyeballs, so it was dark and dank. The inner sanctum was so dark that I could see nothing! Our guide didn’t have a torch, and since it was late in the evening, I managed to get a decent capture of the sanctum with my camera in the ‘night’ mode!

The sanctum houses an image of Mahavira….



Outside are many interesting carvings of Jain Tirthankars….. My knowledge of these is rudimentary, so let me just take you on a photo-tour…

Tirthankars inside the sanctum

More.... look at the remnants of painting inside the sanctum

These three look almost identical, but when you look close, there are plenty of differences. Sorry, I dont know enough to identify them!



Gomateshwara - see the vines climbing up his legs
Parshwanath - with the snake hood

Mahavira - with a devotee



Our guide attempted to explain some of these sculptures to us, but without much knowledge of Jainism, much of it went right over our heads. Samhith especially was completely lost, unsurprisingly, and he had just one question – Why were none of the Tirthankars wearing anything? He seemed a bit embarrassed, which is when it struck me why the cave was empty – the teachers had obviously deemed this cave ‘unsuitable’ for  the students!

What hypocrisy we practice in the name of ‘moral standards’! We allow kids to see programmes and movies which are much more explicit, yet we fail to allow them to see something which talks of a higher goal – of being free of all attachments, even to cloth! This was where our guide came to our rescue, and beautifully explained about the two sects of Jainism – Digambars, who believed in letting go of all attachments, and wearing nothing; and Shwetambars – who also let go of all attachments, but wear only white, unstitched cloth. Explaining the difference and the greatness of the saints depicted in the cave seemed to take off some of the embarrassment, and he wondered how they managed to live like that, wearing nothing, eating very little and meditating all the time! The sculptures had at last managed to make him understand how difficult it was to do penance, to meditate, to let go of attachments and think only of God. He listens to these things in stories all the time, but I think it was here that he actually got a glimpse of what it really was like! There is a long way to go before he really understands, but I believe we just started our journey towards true spirituality!

The fourth cave at Badami was the last we visited on this trip, but I think it reinforced my belief that nothing is too great to be explained to children, that there is nothing they can’t really understand, if explained at their level. But most of all, it reinforced my belief that if we want to preserve our heritage for our descendants, we need to make our children aware of it first, and that it is never too early to begin! 


Badami Factfile
  • Location: Badami is located in Karnataka, 30 Kms from Bagalkot and 589 Km from Bangalore
  • Nearest Airport: Belgaum, 190 Km
  • Nearest Railway station: Hubli, 100 Km
  • Accomodation: There are plenty of options for staying in Badami, but most of them are lodges and low to medium end hotels. The best is certainly the Karnataka Tourism hotel Maurya Chalukya
  • Around Badami
    • Bijapur – 125 Km
    • Aihole – 46 Km
    • Pattadakkal – 29 Km
    • Hospet – 190 Km


Related Badami Posts


Comments

  1. Very interesting series of posts. This is definitely a must visit place.

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  2. It was really a wonderful journey as I have not seen ancient sites in Karnataka barring some in and around Bangaluru. I endorse your views contained in the concluding para. Have a nice week end.

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  3. I believe Badami can be a world class destination if they spruce up the place, it is worth staying at Badami.  We preferred to stay at Aihole which really serene, only one guest house is available there.  It is like taking a chance. Jainism was subject to more vandalism in parts of south India unfortunately.  I happened to meet Digamber priests at Kanheri caves some years back, and surprisingly they were talking Kannada, we exchanged good wishes.  Admire their living philosophy

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  4. There must be more around waiting to be discovered.
    Great pics.

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  5. Awesome historical art! awesome pictures and presentation too! nice one's again.

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  6. Just came from Badami and agree with you that school children should be handled more sensibly as both they and monkeys harassed us there. What we did not understand there, your photos and descriptions have done that , and now I feel my trip is actually completed after reading your 4 parts, thanks a TON !

    ReplyDelete

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