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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

Navaratri Preparations

Its time for yet another festival - one which gives me the maximum opportunity to use my creativity - Navaratri - the festival of nine nights. 

These nine nights (and days) are dedicated to the goddess in her myriad forms, and this festival is a celebration of not just the mother goddess, but also her creations. For us, South-Indians, Navaratri is a time for the Bommai Kolu (or Golu), a series of steps with dolls placed on them, and also a time for socialization. The kolu represents the different stages and aspects of life. The bottom steps represent life as we know it - as humans. We therefore use them to depict scenes from life. The higher steps are meant to represent our quest for divinity - which is represented by dolls showing stories from mythology involving gods and demigods. The highest steps are used to show the Gods, who are, after all, believed to be above us all! Apart from the dolls placed on the steps, we also decorate an area around the steps, usually based on some theme. This is mainly meant for children, to give a free rein to their creativity. For me, this is Samhith's area, where he chooses the theme, and then I help him set it up! Yes, I do have to do bulk of the work at present, but he contributes in more ways than you can imagine! As usual, since the theme is of his choosing, our kolu revolves around Samhith's favourite train set! The last few days have been really hectic, preparing for the festival, so no wonder this blog hasnt seen any new posts since Ganesh Chaturthi! 

Over the next ten days, I hope to write everyday, and take you along with me as I enjoy different aspects of the celebrations around me. Meanwhile, here is a sneak peek at our preparations for the kolu!


  1. Oh! the preparations are in full swing. In the olden days we used to have wooden sculptures made of red sandalwood.(Marapacchi) which wewre kept to sleep after the Kolu. It would be interesting to go through your posts which I look forward t.

  2. Oh wow, looks like quite a preparation :D

    look fwd to your Golu..

  3. Thanks to your idea last year, this year we got a paper modelling kit of was fun doing it...waiting to see your golu this year

  4. Anu, I love your posts about festivals, I learn so much! I borrowed this one for this week's contributors' roundup.

  5. How nice. I am liking it to know about the festival, particularly how it is celebrated in other parts of the country. 

  6. wow! look forward to the posts ahead!

  7. We keep marapachi too.... and make them sleep on the last day....

  8. Yes, aarti! wait till u see the next one!

  9. Thanks so much, Ana! have been so busy havent had time to check out the site since the last few days! will head over asap!

  10. Such an elaborate preparation Anu! I am sure Samhith is enjoying the most.

  11. THanks Nisha! Samhith is having a blast! u shd come home for navaratri once!

  12. May this navratri bring happiness and Prosperity to all..Happy Navratri..Thanks for sharing.


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