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The surreal Gompas perched atop the mountains in Ladakh are hidden from the world. Yet all of them have a great spiritual significance for Buddhists. They are home to the various avatars of Buddha…

By Mukesh Khosla 

As the plane begins its descent in Leh, one sees three things simultaneously - a scattered township, the gurgling River Indus and the snow capped peaks. Leh the capital of Ladakh is now on the tourist map and a plane flying over inhospitable and unforgiving Himalayan ranges takes you on this rooftop of the world in less than an hour from Delhi.

The temperature outside is nine degrees Celsius with a nippy breeze. For a person going from the plains to Leh, the recipe is simple and strict: Take It Easy, lest you find yourself out of breath and panting. After all, breathing doesn't come easy at 12,000 feet above sea level. It is not for nothing that the locals call this the land of the moon with fairy tale castle-like Gompas (monasteries) perched precariously on rocky crags.

Monasteries, in fact, are the main point of interest in Leh where people follow the Tibetan form of Buddhism. Ladakh has, for centuries, owed spiritual allegiance to Tibet, and the Dalai Lama is considered the re-incarnation of Lord Buddha. Thiksey, Shey, Sankar, Hemis, Lamayaru, Likir and Alchi are the best known monasteries of the region and revered by locals and visited by tourists.


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The South Asian Life & Times

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