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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

A Journey into the snow-clad mountains of Sikkim

“Will there be snow?” was the question Samhith asked us over and over again during the months, weeks and days leading to our Sikkim trip. Considering that we made the trip just after Christmas, chances of snow were high. However, also high were the chances that if there was fresh snowfall or if the weather was bad, the roads would close! Besides, there was the matter of getting our permits, a new experience for us. We had our fingers crossed! Thankfully, the skies were clear, we obtained our permits for Nathu-La, and set out on our first journey into the mountains of Sikkim!




It was a lovely day, and as we climbed higher into the mountains, the sights were more beautiful than we had imagined. Our first sight of Tsongmo Lake, or Changu Lake, is something that I shall always remember. Only a small part of the lake had frozen, and the rest reflected the beautiful blue of the sky….



Further, there were more water bodies. I don’t know whether to call them lakes or ponds… this one was completely frozen…



While this smaller one was only partly frozen….



I will not post photos of Nathu-La, since photography is prohibited there, but there was no dearth of photographic opportunities at every turn….



The clear blue sky was a sharp contrast to the black and white of the mountains…



Further, we came to another small lake, along which there was a settlement. This sight looked right out of a postcard!



And then we came to another lake, which looked very similar to the Changu Lake in shape….





And further were more snow clad peaks…



On the way back, the Changu Lake now reflected the colours of the setting sun, and the approaching clouds…



Darkening every moment…



The sky was afire with the colours of sunset, and the looming clouds by the time we left the mountains. It was clear the weather was changing.



And it did. That night, it rained, fresh snow fell over the mountains, and the roads closed. We were lucky we made the journey into the mountains, just in time! Evidently, the Gods had listened to Samhith’s prayers!



Information:
  • Location:
    • The road to Nathu-La is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. The Nathu-La pass is located on the border of India and Tibet, about 54 Km from Gangtok.
    • Tsongmo Lake is about 40 Km from Gangtok.
    • Baba Mandir is about 60 Km from Gangtok on the same route. This is the Samadhi of Baba Harbhajan Singh, a soldier of the Indian Army. More about this temple later.
  • Inner Line permits are required for visiting these sites. Permits are available at the Sikkim Tourism offices, and are also available through tour agents.
  • How to Reach:
    • Hire Vehicles from Gangtok. Permits are allotted only with vehicles.
  • Tips and Suggestions
    • A trip to these three sites takes almost the whole day, so be prepared.
    • The weather can change suddenly, so make sure you dress warm, especially in winter.  Winter wear like jackets, socks and gum boots are available for hire at Changu Lake. There is nothing of the kind available at Nathu La.
    • Photography is not allowed at Nathu La, for obvious reasons. Please follow the rules.
    • If you are travelling with children, take it easy. Avoid taking toddlers to Nathu La and places at such high altitudes, or be prepared with medications for altitude sickness.
    • For some strange reason, munching on popcorn or chips seems to help.
    • The only food available here is again, at Changu Lake. There are no stalls or restaurants here, except a small one at Nathu La, which is always crowded with tourists. Carry snacks, especially if travelling with children.
    • Once again, be prepared for altitude sickness and motion sickness. Carry your medications. We struggled in spite of carrying all medications, since it turned out that neither Samhith nor I were good at heights. 


Comments

  1. just awesome images...
    thanks for sharring with us...
    keep blogging :)

    ReplyDelete

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