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Ladakh’s spiritual secrets

Indus river bridge at Alchi Gompa
Image courtesy: ©Sunil Garg/Lonely Planet

Picture-perfect gompas, colourful fluttering prayer flags and a cool mountain breeze sums up the surroundings and makes Ladakh one of the most amazing place to visit. Already known for its spiritual picture, Ladakh has a few secrets left to be discovered.

Alchi: This 11th-century monastery complex is not exactly a secret. However, not everyone knows about the common thread that binds Alchi to more than 100 other Buddhist monasteries. That thread is Rinchen Zangpo (958–1055), a noted Buddhist teacher who was sent by a Tibetan king to lay the foundations for gompas throughout Ladakh and Zanskar. Zangpo had learnt Buddhist philosophy at the feet of teachers in Kashmir. He brought with him several artists, from the Kashmir Valley, who were commissioned to complete the walls and entrances.

Chilling: The secret of the stunning Buddha statue at Shey lies in the village of Chilling in Zanskar. In 1650, King Deldan Namgyal had commissioned artisans from Nepal to build the majestic three-storey-high gold-plated statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha. The descendants of the artisans now live in Chilling where they craft metallic kettles, pots and other beautiful artifacts.

Also Read: Adventure trips in Ladakh

Also Read: Best attractions in Leh: A monastery circuit


Thiksey Gompa
Thiksey Gompa
Image courtesy: ©Monica Chi/Lonely Planet

Dawn prayers at Thiksey Monastery: Brave the cold at the break of dawn and head out to Thiksey monastery for a spiritual experience. Hear monks blow the ceremonial trumpet and call devotees for prayers in the main halls. Then allow the drums and chants to lead you into a trance-like state.

Kotsang: Perched like an eagle’s nest two thirds of the way up a 4267m mountain face is the 800-year-old Kotsang (Got-Sang), a meditation retreat for monks. Starting from the more famous Hemis Gompa, this rarely visited retreat is just over an hour’s walk through a charming forest followed by a short steep climb.