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6/29/08 – What a day! The guest house we stayed at is nice! Like wow! Out in the middle of nowhere, in a small village is this guest house that seems like a Marriot. There was golden buffet service in the dining room, a reception desk, 16 rooms total, exquisite pictures of Buddhist iconography in the dining room (which is large and spacious). The village is below a monastery – which we went up to visit. The village is at least 15 minutes off the main road, in a lush valley. Its name is Temisgam (along with the monastery).
There is a bird in Ladakh that makes a static noise. Like scraping paint off an old house with a wire brush. I have only heard it once so far. In looking and listening for it in this lush valley, I only hear typical chirrups and peeps. There are large magpies – a little bigger than East Coast blue jays but much more aggressive if that is possible. They chase away these large black ravens. There are also many sparrows, pigeons, bees and butterflies and moths.
We got to explore the house of the owners of the guest house (next door). It was interesting – a large house with several bed rooms on two floors. They had their own cow outside for milking (and yogurt). Simple bare walls, dirty carpets in a sitting room, dusty dirt floors on the first floor and the walls of the kitchen are covered in soot (they are darker than the other walls of the house). But then we came to the shrine room – whoa! It is golden and shiny and sparkly. Brilliant, clean, colorful rugs, small statues, elevated seating areas, a local lama is sitting in a corner chatting with a couple of family members, and the windows were large and spacious allowing a lot of light into the room. There were three stupas representing the three lords – Chenrezig (white), Manjushri (yellow) and Vajrapani (blue). Aside from their shrine room, it was obvious most of the family’s money was tied up in the guest house.
Last night, there was a loud clap – like a thunderbolt. But there was no storm. In the morning someone asked what it was and the guide said it was a dragon. Someone retorts that after seeing the oracle, anything was possible. Hmmm…
[Revised May 2021: (this is esoteric, bear with me – there are stories of this happening in Tibet) the loud clap may have been the activities of the Dharma protectors clearing away obstacles – or defeating the demons. I don’t know, more speculation.]
The monastery above the village was interesting. It is basically a museum – there is only one monk there to keep things going. He said they take shifts taking care of the place – doing practice and prayers, collecting the suggested donations when tourists visit and scheduling maintenance work. It was a beautiful monastery – too bad it is not still in operation. We spent quite a bit of time here as it had some of the most precious artwork we had seen yet – especially considering it’s size. Plus we had a little bit of time to kill as we had ample time to get to Lama Yuru that afternoon.
In my next post, I will detail this fascinating monastery (Tamisgam).