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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

Khecheopalri Lake - One Lake, Many Legends!

It is a small lake, nestled amidst the mountains, surrounded by forests. The shape is slightly elongated, though not a regular oval. But then, you wouldn’t expect a natural lake to have a perfect shape, would you? At first glance, it appears like any other mountain lake. Why then is this one special? Because, it is associated with the divine, by Buddhists, as well as Hindus!




There are many legends and myths related to the lake at Khecheopalri, near Pelling in West Sikkim. It is said that these mountains are the abode of the Goddess Tara, and that the lake is her footprint! Another legend states that this is the site where the Guru Padmasambhava preached to the 64 Yoginis. Yet another speaks of the locals witnessing two conches falling from the skies, the ground shaking violently, and water emerging from the earth, forming the lake.



In Hindu mythology, the lake is Shiva’s footprint, and the Lord himself meditates in one of the caves in the mountains here.



It is also said that no leaf ever floats on the lake, despite being surrounded by trees. As soon as leaf falls, a bird picks it up and flies away!

Blue Fronted Redstart


The legends and myths have, to a great extent, helped preserve the sanctity and the peace here. The lake and its surroundings are home to a number of birds, and even in the short time that we spent there, we saw quite a few. The ducks swimming in the lake were especially a wonderful sight!



The only sore point of the trip was a bunch of visitors having a jolly time ringing the temple bell, enjoying the echoes, and laughing raucously. It made me wonder if we would ever learn to be responsible tourists.



Among all the sites we visited near Pelling, this is one I would love to go back to, someday, and spend some leisurely time just sitting by the lake. Is it the divinity that beckons me, the stories, or the birds? It doesn’t really matter. What does, is being drawn to it.

Information:
  • Location: Khecheopalri or Khacheodpalri Lake is located 34 Km from Pelling in West Sikkim.
  • How to Reach: There are a few share jeeps which bring you here from Pelling, but relying on them can be dicey. It is best to hire a vehicle and combine a visit to the lake with Rabdentse ruins, Pemayangtse Monastery, and Kanchenjunga waterfalls.
  • Where to Stay: There are just a few houses in the village here, and a couple of them accept guests, but accommodation is extremely basic. It is best to stay  at Pelling and make a day trip.
  • Tips:
    • The village is a small one and there are a few shops which double up as restaurants offering basic food like momos and Maggi noodles. Even they shut down around 3 in the afternoon, so if you plan a visit, don’t plan on eating here.
    • The lake is beautiful and peaceful. Try to keep it so. Avoid throwing plastic here, and please, the temple bell is meant to rung once or twice. Not incessantly.
    • The best time to watch birds would be mornings and early evenings. In the winters, it starts getting dark here before 4, so plan accordingly.




Comments

  1. Beautiful shots. Looks like a very calm and serene place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Chaitali. It is indeed a very serene and calm place.

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  2. those are beautiful shots a beautiful place ..


    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Bikram. It is indeed a beautiful place and my photos don't really do justice to it!

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  3. What an interesting set of legends. Shiva or Padmasambhava or Tara, it is definitely a holy place.

    As for the tourists, having encounterd such types, everywhere, I'm actually surprised when I don't come across them. Sad state of affairs, really. :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sudha! It certainly felt divine! and the stories simply added to the mystique. As to the people, well, I agree. I am surprised when such people arent around, but cant help wondering how they can be so loud in a place like this.

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  4. Lovely shots and such a serene and divine place!

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  5. There should be some law banning such tourists going to such heavenly places.

    I met some similar samples at Gurudongmar Lake to whom I advised to go to Digha and Mandarmani and sip beer with chilli chicken. For some enjoyment is only shouting at the top of their voice..

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting stories! How did you hear such!! Wonderful !

    ReplyDelete

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