a pidgeon right outside my Delhi window - her name was Babette - she says “goodbye, Juley!”
Serene World Buddhist Center (entrance)
Beautiful, simple shrine & Stained glass - WBC
Entry Hall Detail of Buddhas
Main Shrine - WBC
4 AM! catching flight to Ladakh - Jeff, Joe, Jody
Yes, we woke up at 2:30 AM to get here... (Nate and Hun)
With jet lag and an awfully early morning, Jeff guards the texts from Jes, while pointing
Kirby, Sean, Nate, early morning in Dehli airport (soldiers speed by)
the daily view from the guest house front entry (Stok Kangri - 21,000 ft)
A traditional Ladakhi kitchen - huge pots ready for a feast
The founder of Drikung Kagyu lineage - Lord Jigten Sumgon
Phyang Statue of Amitayus (?) - Buddha of longevity
An ornate throne Phyang monastery
We arrived at Phyang just in time to catch the dissolution of a mandala!
Phyang monastery - 2008 but could have been 1008 - very traditional
Tormas - ritual offering cakes (made of barley flour, butter, dye - these were melting)
Monks chanting and clearing space to dissolve the mandala
Shutter snapping Westerners barely disturb Ladakhis and monks
Large drum for certain rituals - easily 2 ft across
The Mandala has been dissolved - let's go party and throw it in the river!
Seemed a little chaotic as monks scrambled to get into place
So very colorful - a victory banner and the red hats of the Drikung Kagyu - unmistakable (!)
Ladakhis, who are very kind hearted wear “interesting” Western clothing at times
Small courtyard is packed as we await the ceremony's procession to the river
Many instruments played at monasteries - cymbals, drums (all sizes), small / big horns, bells
Every monastery and affluent Ladakhi (Buddhist) home would have at least one mast with a banner on top
Banner's detail - often have a ox tail included with the fabric (for good luck?)
Here comes the mixed sand (from mandala)
Parasol - probably means there was a high Lama present or apart of the ritual
Line of Stupas seen from monastery
Striking skylines - every direction, every day
A large Buddhist prayer wheel - these have at least one million prayers in them (very heavy)
Stupas - yellow, white and blue represent protectors - Manjushri, Chenrezig and Vajrapani
A walk through stupa!
A mosque sits in the center of Leh market
Check out these guardian posts!
Ornate prayer wheel - sanskrit mantra above - Om Mani Padme Hung
A mani stone - Tibetan Om Mani Pemme Hum - over & over & over... can you imagine?!
The Deer and Dharmachakra - primary Tibetan Buddhist symbols
Beautiful mtns - but look below at the mani wall - thousands of mani stones are on walls that go for miles!
Arriving at Hemis gompa (monastery)
Most gompas are built right into the mountains and rock
Many tourists today (Hemis)
Ladakhi gompa garage...
Nearly every square inch is intricately painted, carved or sculpted - pictures of the 84 mahasiddhas
details of Mahasiddhas
Nagarjuna! he is thought to be responsible for gathering and distributing Tantric teachings
the kind root lama Vajradhara
Hemis gompa - the only large monastery not discovered by Moghuls - huge courtyard
Four foot tall prayer wheel - pull me! (clockwise please)
Gargantuan prayer wheel - may have been eight feet tall
A panoramic attempt at capturing rows of smaller prayer wheels
One of the Kings of the four directions
One of 4 Kings
Where is the jewel spitting mongoose? Squeeze it if you find it!
One of Kings of 4 cardinal directions
Wheel of Life - always present somewhere at gompas (6 realms of samsara)
At Hemis gompa - all statuary had precious stones - same with this stupa
detail of Chakrasamvara - deity representing non-dual wisdom
Monk (drakpa) at Hemis
somewhere way up this mountain is a small hermitage and retreat gompa
Kevin Lane - cheese!
Not certain if Nate wanted his mug taken...
Bily - rainbow like thoughts visible
fascinating geological formations abound
Stakna (tiger's nose) gompa - Dharmachakra railings
Stakna - exquisite detail - Dharma King (?)
Dharma Kings guarding the entrance
A crisp wheel of life
Dharma King - Where's mongoose?
The Drukpa Kagyu lineage
An ancient chamber
Silk Katah(g)s - offering scarves (typically all over gonpas)
Vajrayogini in a deity house behind glass
Young monks far below Stakna
How'd you like to meet me? a wrathful(ly compassionate) deity
Namgyal - trip organizer and guide - Terry and Hun look on
Either a huge wall or something wonderful is on ceiling
We had the priviledge of sitting and practicing in some gonpas (Sean's either happy or...)
Six Members of the 21 Taras
Green Tara (Drolma)
This prayer wheel was in the middle of nowhere - and yet, there it is
The Ladakhis only gained the use of power equipment in the 1970's
Footbridge turned small vehicle bridge - prayer flags adorn
Historical Buddha with his 2 attendants
A weathered Wheel of Life
A Butter Lamp - most of these were kept covered and well vented - in the past they caused extreme soot build up on the murals and walls
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The stones were incredibly worn smooth and glassy from countless monks and visitors
12 meter tall statue of Maitreya - the future Buddha
Maitreya Buddha - each image in the crown is life size!
Gate to Thiksey - golden and extravagant
A high Lama's stupa
A field of stupas - reliquaries and burial ground
Michael amidst stupa field - keep an eye on those far dunes
Kevin - runner extraordinaire ran off into the dunes - here is returning - phew!
Large 12 meter Shakyamuni Buddha at Shey Palace
Well stocked shrine at Shey Palace
The crown of this stupa is pure gold (Shey palace)
Buddhist carvings from the 11th century
5 Buddha families (?) from the 11th century
Jeff - mtn goat, climber, posing
Chemray gompa from distance
Tak Thog (stone ceiling) gompa
Tak Thog gompa
Guru Rinpoche painting at Tak Thog
Shakyamuni (Tak Thog)
See why it is named Rock Ceiling!
Money is pasted to the stone in this shrine room
Huge mani stone in gompa
Most buildings were built right around, over, under the stone
Guru Rinpoche - subjugator of demons in Tibet - very intense portrayal
A remote Ladakhi school - near Tak Thog
We stopped for lunch and were investigated by cute Ladakhi children!
This long concrete trough is apart of Ladakh's extensive irrigation system
Me! at Chemray gompa
Buddha Amitabha with attendants
Guru Rinpoche - (Padmasambhava) at Chemray
Colorful shrine at Chemray
Chakrasamvara at Chemray
This shrine at Chemray had 20 ft ceilings and every sq inch was painted (Vajrasattva Buddha of purification)
Wanna dance? I'll share my skull cup with you...
Drukpa Kagyu is the dominate lineage of Ladakhi monasteries
Tall ceilings and murals!
Most gompas are busy little Buddhist cities
We found a traditional Ladakhi wedding to crash! Bily and Jes - can we have some chang (barley wine)?
We are the only white people, complete strangers and we are treated like honored guests! Juley!
After some time, our novelty wore off and the Ladakhis went back to dancing
Huge wedding party!
The mothers of the bride / groom greet us with warmth
There was a mountain of gifts in the middle of it all
Michael is the first brave dancer
Kevin, Jes and Joe join Michael on the dance floor
The bride wore the ceremonial hood of turquoise
We were served trolma draisi (sweet rice), so cha (butter tea), and chang (beer)
Looking down on Leh as we rise toward the Kardung La pass
Hun with Leh and Stok Kangri background
<Joe's picture> a narrow encounter!
Air, what air?
Some of us climbed to the ridge on the right
Some of the mighty Karakoram giants far on the horizon
Perhaps one of K2's brothers and sisters
Kardung La has thousands of prayer flags and a tiny gompa!
Smoke offering for a safe passage (at 18400 ft)
One of the many glaciers around Ladakh
Jes and Sean - Kardung La
Joe, Jody, Michael, Dav and Laura
The Darjeeling brothers hiked way up and celebrated their triumph (Nate and Jeff)
On the way into Nubra valley
kinda dry eh?
Sartok (?) gompa in Nubra valley
Unbelievable irrigation systems crisscrossed the greenery
Thinley - our guide for Nubra valley
The Dalai Lama's teaching Hall at Diskit gompa
Seated Buddha under construction - may it be completed swiftly
Buddha at Diskit
Huge drum at Diskit
1000 Arm Chenrezig behind Gelugpa statues
Most wrathful protector statues were covered (thankfully)
Covered protectors at Diskit
There is a story here
We were treated like royalty - here our makeshift kitchen and staff are fixing lunch in Nubra Valley
Dhri - cross breeds of yak and cattle, light on their feet go frollicking by
At the headwaters of Nubra
Likir gompa images
Lunch at Alchi
Mtn view from our Temisgam guest house
We saw blue sheep on this ridge - tiny specks
Looking down on our guest house from Temisgam gompa
The house of one of our taxi drivers
An ancient cave-like shrine room
We sat at Temisgam to practice (with the solitary monastic care-taker)
Carving of the elephant, monkey, rabbit, bird (Buddhist story)
This is just the trim! Image the rest of the gonpa...
Temisgam shrine panorama
a surprising little gonpa - Temisgam - had unusually elaborate shrines
Nate drifts across the panorama
Kevin could run 85 miles in one day, and OH MY WORD! could he eat!
The Lunar, sandy approach to Lama Yuru
No need to waste billions going to the Moon - Lama Yuru is right here!
One of the many colorful cargo trucks - this one in the traffic jam at Lama Yuru
Army truck is stuck - Everybody, come watch them wrestle with trucks on the side of a cliff!
Joe peacefully at Lama Yuru
we were served tea in our tents, bright and early (Dav, Jody, Eliza)
One of the jokers at Lama Yuru's Cham dance festival
Very colorful at Lama Yuru
A lake supposedly filled this valley at the time of Buddha - can you see it?
Prayer wheels and beads - how many 10 million counters do you have?
Lama Sonam Jorphel helped to have this hotel built at Lama Yuru (overlooking dance courtyard)
Many high Lamas at Lama Yuru - ornate thrones - Lord Jigten Sumgon above
sometimes music graced the courtyard - monks enjoying the ceremony
Many masked dancers over two days
Dancing, embodying deities and characters
some conversations just can't wait
There were several hundred people gathered for the festival
These horns were deep and twice the size of their porters
Dancing amidst unfinished balconies
A part of the Achi Chokyi Drolma (grandmother) protector dance
one of the organizer monks (no mask) ran around adjusting and conversing with the dancers
Go beyond boredom, to an imperturbable calm...
Dancers, crowd, monastery, set in the rocky mtn (Dav, Laura, Michael)
Some Ladakhis were wearing huge robes and many layers!
This is a little mtn some of us climbed - note the lack of prayer flags (at least 1000 ft above our campsite)
Young monks wrestled nearby our campsite
Same little mtn - note the prayer flags! success! hope it was an auspicious day for them...
This was a huge torma - several feet tall - those are pictures of protector deities on dowels
There is a garuda at the top
GARUDA!!! (a mythical flying bird-like guardian spirit)
I am scary!
A protector torma - note the tube-like material around the base
See the yellow Vajra near the base? it looks like a royal scepter
That tube from earlier - intestines! Yay!
This was a torma lover's dream come true...
Various Buddhas, Deities and Bodhisattvas
The Sixteen Arhats (?)
Naropa - a Mahasiddha, highly realized being, a lineage holder of the Kagyupa sect
Naropa's cave - with Marpa and Milarepa (disciples and teachers)
A Ladakhi at Lama Yuru
Drupon Sonam Kunga - Khenchen Rinpoche's retreat “classmate” and Bakula Nyima Rinpoche's tutor
turquoise is in!
Westerners and indigenous Ladakhis
A large torma was brought onto the dance courtyard
a deer with a sword...
Hackey Sack! One of the young males' favority past times - with a couple of cooks
Bakula Randrol Nyima Rinpoche as a Black Hat dancer
One of the Black Hat's imposing aprons
What is that on the ground behind the dancer?!
The effigy representing the old / evil energy of the past year, it will be ritually destroyed
Bakula Nyima Rinpoche was the first to place a ritual knife in the effigy
“Is my hat as big as yours?”
Some of the weapons and ritual purification tools of the Black Hat ceremony
Owww... It has been sprinkled with the Dharma (red and yellow) colored sand and stabbed
Our base camp at Lama Yuru
Yellow dining tent with kitchen tent behind it - some of the best food I have ever eaten while camping!
our dining table - for 16 (tuk3 is juice)
Cover your eyes - this skeleton is from a protector shrine
The Singye Lhakhang of Lama Yuru - ancient shrine from the 11th century
A Garuda above one of the Five Buddha families
On to Basgo - one of the lower palaces
Basgo had two impressive shrine rooms - this is a 12 meter Maitreya statue
Terry, under Avalokitesvara (white - 4 arms)
check out the ceilings!
Tsongkhapa (?) and Shakyamuni Buddha
Vajradhara - the inseparability of appearance and emptiness
The difference between maintained and weathering was drastic!
Couldn't get a clear picture of the whiskey known as Old Monk - ironic eh?
Bily found some huge glasses and donned the Mississippi nerd / grandmother look (not that there is anything wrong with that)
Our dining room at the Kidar guest house in Leh
There is a tiny ledge outside this winder - was Kevin meditating or....
Once a week the family of the guest house would utilize their extensive irrigation system
They had a large, well stocked and well planned garden
See the Hackey Sack? (hint: it's on the left)
Sonam Chonjore - porter, waiter, gardener, friend (he's 13, a relative who helped around the guest house A LOT)
We took Sonam and his family out to dinner on our last night as a group
Saying goodbyes - aawwww (Brianna, Kevin, Kirby)
Bily and Kirby - with a flash used!
Asses make funny loud noises - even the helpless ones
The Women's Alliance is a great organizing group - they make it happen
MANY dogs - seeming dead asleep during the day, constantly barking by night
Ecology Center in Leh - neat use of cement
a solar cooker - these work!
The Dalai Lama's birthday commemoration - Ladakh
When the Dalai Lama is in Ladakh, he gives teachings here
there were very few pets - here's one
large field of the Dalai Lama's Podrang (palace)
I feel like I am on the cover of a Tibetan language textbook...
Tibetan refugees whom I befriended - Tamding (left) and Chorpha
the cutest puppy who was sooo hungry... very compassion inspiring =^ (
We can't have a trip to India without at least one cow picture
flowers at the guest house
many roses at the guest house
Spituk gonpa looked out over the airport and air force base
Guru Rinpoche is about to jump over the railing and join us! (do you mind?)
White Tara (Drolkar)
Here come the Eight Auspicious Symbols - the parasol
The Fist - looks like Pisces eh?
The Lotus - perhaps one bud, one blooming and one wilted flower - Buddhas of past, present and future
The Clockwise turning Conch Shell
The Eternal Knot
The Victory Banner
The Dharma Chakra - the wheel of teachings
A mural symbolizing the 12 steps of Shamatha meditation (calm abiding)
The Wheel of Life at Spituk
1000 Arm Chenrezig
The monks of Spituk are commencing the Yamantaka sand mandala
Shakyamuni with attendants
Bakula Rinpoche (the Gelugpa tulku) and his unbelievable throne
Even in the gonpa, the walls were topped with broken glass - keep off!
Heading up toward the gonkhang - the protector shrine
The Lushness of the Indus river valley was a rare sight
Yes, the military has quite a presence in Ladakh - right next to the prayer wheels
Leh palace (9 stories tall) with a gonpa on the ridge top
Stok Kangri was often shrouded in snowy clouds
it rains 4 mm on average in Leh - that does not count the mtns around it
we stayed here
More Kidar flowers!
Kidar upper garden