Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Travelogue - The Gompas of Leh
Hemis is among the oldest gompas in the region - dates back to 1630 AD and is built on the site of a 12th century cave monastary. When I was there, they were celebrating the Hemis Festival. Like most Gompas, it's on top of a hill. Outside is a big courtyard which is where the festivities take place. Inside is a 17th century heritage frozen in time. Cramped in the small space are monks and commoners alike. Golden statues and old cloth paintings stare at them.
The most beautiful of all monastaries. Little cubes stacked up, taper heavenwards. From atop the monastary behold a barren desert-land, and patches of green. In their midst hides the city of Leh.
Shey Palace -
The old palace of the kings of Ladakh. It looks good from the outside. But the insides are eaten up by a parasite called time. The Gompa here, is a simple one. If you can brave the heat, the scorching sun and the unsteady steps, climb up to the top of the structure - Shey offers you a view, you won't forget.
The new palace. And a little a museum that adjoins this palace. Couldn't get a glimpse of the queen.
Shanti Stupa -
A gift from the Japanese. It is the highest point in the city and you can spend hours out here, staring at the cityscape.
A buddhist monastary like any other. Except the Hindus believe, that the deity is Goddess Kali. A rich Hindu patronage has had even the Buddhist Lamas encourage this belief. The 'Kali' temple, is on a hill above the traditional Gompa - looks great at sunset.
The Lonely Flame
The wind sneaks in,
Through the yawning door,
To tease a lonely flame.
In the eternal night of this place,
Red monks chant prayers,
In an earthy voice.
The trembling shadow of a hand,
Rings a bell,
In the mind of the transfixed listener.
All sounds will die within.
Yet, somehow, through the sleepy gate escapes,
The musty smell of hope,
Soft sighs of tranquility,
And the simple smile of a face,
Made alive by a timeless, flickering flame.