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  • Exploring the historical Alchi and Likir Monastery, Ladakh

    Minna Bansal
    424  Likes 6727  Views
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  • Alchi Road
    Alchi Road
    Beautiful drive Changing terrainGentle slopes
    Having been busy at work for a while now, it was time for another road trip. We hadn't yet travelled in the direction of Alchi, bit having heard a lot about it, started off. The ride was not strenuous, over gentle slopes, and we soon reached the famous horse shoe bend!
  • Alchi Road
    Alchi Road
    Beautiful colours of mountains
    We cruised along the road, riding was so easy. As the pillion rider I was able to fully enjoy the beautiful scenery, and I watched the colours change one by one. We crossed Basgo, which is famous for its purple soil. Yaks and dzo grazed in green meadows and I was in bliss!
  • Alchi Road
    Alchi Road
    Taking a short rest, we let no photo opportunity go missed. Our prized vehicles of course were prime subjects for the photos! I was just amazed by the diversity of the mountains of Ladakh - no two places I had been to had been the same !
  • Zanskar River
    Zanskar River
    Indus Zanskar Confluence!
    Even though I was aware that we were going to pass this, when I actually saw the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers, I couldn't stop staring in awe. The stark difference in the colours of their water, their merging just seemed like a very sacred occurrence. Mesmerising!
  • Alchi
    Alchi
    Blend of architectural stylesIntricate wooden carvingsPeaceful atmosphere
    We soon arrived at our first destination , the Alchi Monastery. It is the oldest monastery in Ladakh, dating back to the 10th century. What is most interesting about this is that Kashmiri craftsman were brought in to work on its construction, and so it has a very unique style.
  • Alchi
    Alchi
    Unique Kashmiri paintings insideIntricate wooden carvings
    The Manjushri or Assembly Hall is at the heart of the monastery, and it is where monks perform workshop and ceremonies. The ancient wooden door is still intact. Inside, frescoes of Buddhas are painted on the walls, in a manner very typical and unique of the Kashmiri artists.
  • Alchi
    Alchi
    Fusion of Ladakhi and Kashmiri art
    Chortens or stupas are white structures that are dotted around the monastery complex. I walked into one and was completely surprised when I looked up and saw this beautifully painted ceiling! I hadn't seen this in other chortens before. Again, it's uniqueness was due to fusion !
  • Alchi
    Alchi
    Rustic colour pallettePosition aura of spinning wheel
    We explore every nook and cranny of this very unique piece of architecture, and once our curiosity was satisfied, we decided to head on to our next stop - but not before spinning the holy wheels at the exit, spreading love, good energy and warmth into the air around us!
  • Likir
    Likir
    Back on our bikes, we continued on the road to Likir Monastery. We crossed a bridge with hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind and this happy sight took away any tiredness we had due to the journey.
  • Likir
    Likir
    We approached the grand entrance gate signifying the entrance to the town of Likir. It was interesting to see how this was just a stand alone gate and nothing else in the middle of the desert!
  • Likir Gompa
    Likir Gompa
    Isolated location of monasteryRoad leading up to it
    The Likir Monastery was visible to us in the horizon, rising up from the mountain, yet very much a part of it. This relatively isolated monastery was built in 1065 and is quite close to the banks of the Indus River.
  • Likir Gompa
    Likir Gompa
    We approached the main entrance, and with the typical Gompa colours of white, maroon and black, the wooden entrance invited us to explore the insides. It was cool how the approach to the monastery itself was like a little Ladakhi street!
  • Likir Gompa
    Likir Gompa
    We approached the main assembly hall through the beautiful courtyard that preceded it. There were Thangka paintings of the Guardians of the Four Directions and The Wheel of Life Mandala on the walls of the court and beautifully carved wooden pillars.
  • Likir Gompa
    Likir Gompa
    Inside, there were statues of the Bodhisattvas and Maitreyi Buddha, as well as ancient manuscripts, books and precious items like earthen ware and Thangka paintings. These were well preserved behind glass cases. The serenity of the place almost called for a small mediation sit!
  • Likir Gompa
    Likir Gompa
    The view from Likir Monastery is also very very beautiful. Even after spending a few months in Ladakh, I could never get used to the actual moment when you look outside at the landscape. My breath always catches in my throat and it did even in this instance. 😱😱
  • Likir Gompa
    Likir Gompa
    As we climbed onto the roof, we saw an enormous statue of the Buddha. We learned from one of the monks that this 23 m tall statue of the Maitreyi Buddha is gilded in gold and was built in 1999. It's sheer size made it seem like its very own mountain!
  • Likir Gompa
    Likir Gompa
    Playing with the monk kids!
    Soon, it was time for us to leave this beautiful place. We spent some time playing with the kids at the Likir Monastery school, and like promised, we were served black tea. Refreshed, we once again got onto our trusty bikes and were off on another adventure!

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    Minna Bansal
    @minnabee
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