Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Monasteries and Palaces on the Roof of the World

On our third day in Ladakh we felt ready to take a taxi out to some of the more remote regions in order to visit monasteries.  Our trip took us to Hemis and Thiksey Monasteries and Shey Palace.

Stakna Gompa
Hemis Monastery is the largest monastic institution in Ladakh and dates from 1630. This monastery has more than 200 branches throughout the Himalayas and more than 1,000 monks.

Hemis is situated in a craggy, red-rock canyon and is home to Ladakh's Drukpa Buddhists.  It has a superb central courtyard full of colourful timbers and tall masts with prayer flags.

After Hemis we drove to Thiksey Monastery.  Thiksey is on top of a large rocky outcrop and is comprised of layered, whitewashed Tibetan-style buildings.  It's one of Ladakh's biggest monasteries and includes a restaurant where we ate our lunch.  

The main gompa contains a prayer chamber with a 14 metre high Buddha in an ornately detailed headdress.  This temple was consecrated by the Dalai Lama.

Our final stop of the day was at Shey Palace.  This was once Ladakh's summer capital, though it is now abandoned.

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