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6/28/08 – Beware eating raw food in India – even in Ladakh. As I mentioned previously, I had a bad case of Delhi Belly – I was feverish, nauseous and had digestive issues all night, such that I “slept” on the bathroom floor… Needless to say, I was a little under the weather for both of these gorgeous monasteries. However, we started our trip to Lama Yuru monastery on this day, so I guess I “picked” a good day to be ill – most of it was in the car.
Lama Yuru is a solid seven(?) hour plus drive away from Leh, so we visited a couple of monasteries and then planned to stay at a guest house mid way. The road from Leh to Lama Yuru is a little… hhmmm… how do I put this? fragile? There were some places where either A) sand had blown over the road for at least half a mile, obscuring it completely or B) there was no road and the jeep tracks through the desert were normal… Yeah. I was beginning to wonder where we were going – and why there was not a road there.
Anyway, Likir monastery is Gelugpa gompa and it has a huge seated Buddha sitting outside, actually on top of a part of it. It is a decent size monastery (by Ladakh standards) which also has a school – there are 120 monks in residence at the monastery. For a good photo of the statue, go here: <http://www.imagesofasia.com/html/indiaphoto/buddha-likir.html>
I was quite ill so I walked around part of the monastery and then went and waited in the car (near the latrine). I did not go in at all to Alchi Monastery which was next on our list. But I later read a beautiful (illustrated) book about it in Leh when I was on my own – I visited the local library and found their collection quite nice, if small. However, Alchi is presently a Gelugpa monastery. Although there are stories about it being named after the Drikung protector deity / female Buddha Achi – as in Achi Chokyi Drolma. Sometime in the past few centuries it came under the Yellow Hat influence. It is known as having some the oldest Buddhist art in Ladakh – no photography is allowed in the main hall. The influence of Kashmiri and Muslim artists can be seen in its art work. There are tall statues of Manjushri and I think Avalokitesvara – every square inch of which is painted with intricate, little depictions of the Buddha’s lifestory or the Jataka tales, etc.
I wrote a poem, I think at the guest house at which we stayed. (A very nice guest house which I will write about in my next post.)
a woman passes beneath my window, singing lilting and joyful words, foreign
a donkey brays, suddenly, piercing the valley’s calm, as if it has been stung, its cry carries on the summer breeze
men sawing away, perpetual construction during the few warm months
an ancient walnut tree, ripe with spherical pods
apricot trees, brimming with green, quarter size fruit