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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

Ladakh Diaries Part 2 - Jispa to Leh

We made an early start  from Jispa, at 7 am, after a breakfast of hot, buttered alu parathas, toast, and tea.  All signs of habitation disappeared by the time we reached Sarchu, where we crossed into Ladakh from Himachal Pradesh. Today, it is a Union Territory, but then, this was still part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Borders, I believe , are simply lines drawn by man, over land, and geographically, there are usually few differences on either side of any border. However, here, the difference was stark. While in Himachal, we could still see scattered habitations, within Ladakh, we went miles before seeing signs of any, and when we did, they were usually military, or small shacks built for the convenience of visitors. The nature of every such settlement was temporary – to be dismantled with the arrival of winter. Nature itself felt harsher, more primal, both in the landscape and in the weather. We drove through endless roads meandering through the mountains, the landscapes unl

Ladakh Diaries Part 1 - The Beginning: Manali to Jispa

Our journey to Ladakh  began with a flight to Chandigarh, and a drive to Manali, our first halt.  My earliest diary entries are all about what I would like to do, not on this trip, but on the next! Speaks volumes, doesn’t it, that I would be planning the next trip, even as I was setting off on one? Right on top of the list are the Chandigarh Museum, Naggar Castle and the Bijli Mahadev Temple…. Landscape en route to Manali A light rain accompanied us to Manali, and we reached our destination late in the evening - the Club Mahindra White Meadows resort. We had a lovely room with a small backyard, filled with blooming roses. We would have loved to spend more time relaxing and enjoying the place, but we had other plans for the day, which began with an unplanned breakfast by the road, in pouring rain! On the back porch of our room at Club Mahindra White Meadows Resort The rain reminded us of our honeymoon in Kodaikanal, when the mountains were awash with rain for our entire trip! Everywh

Introducing the Ladakh Diaries

4 years ago , Shankar and I went on a trip to Ladakh and Srinagar. It was a special trip… Samhith was off in Germany, attending a German language summer camp, and the two of us were travelling by ourselves the first time in almost 13 years! We had been planning the trip for months, and the choice of destination wasn’t our first, or our second, or even our tenth! We had first planned an international trip, and selected and rejected destinations galore. Eventually, I realized I wasn’t getting excited about any of them, and that is when we decided that we would visit the part of our country we had never visited – Ladakh. After all, the timing was perfect… the roads would be open, the weather wouldn’t be too harsh, and we had almost 2 weeks, enough to get a glimpse of the region we had only seen photographs of. And so it was that in the first week of August, 2017, the two of us set off on one of our most memorable trips, ever. I had intended to write about this trip immediately after ret