Ladakh 3



The Wheel of Life, Tibetan Buddhist wall painting, Thikse Gompa. The Wheel represents the cycle of being, the various realms of existence, and the three poisons (desire, ignorance and hatred).


View of the Stok Mountains, Part of the Himalaya Range, above farms and poplars on the edge of Leh, Ladakh.

From my diary, Friday 15th April 2005:

Outside, my hosts are planting their potatoes, today. It’s been fascinating watching over the last week, as they’ve dug over the whole vegetable garden (about an acre), then divided it up into a total of about fifty smallish and four large plots, all neatly divided with earth walls, between which are carefully dug channels to the stream that runs along the side.

Then, over the last couple of days, half of the plots have had compost dug in and the channels opened one by one to flood each plot for a set time, then closed and the water allowed to soak into the earth.

The first of the large plots is now being planted with potatoes, presumably saved from last year’s crop, and some more digging is commencing at the far end of the garden, where so far there are no small plots.

I’ve just noticed what’s happening at the far end of the garden. It’s going to be one huge potato patch. Dad is digging, Mum is planting, whilst Granny is sorting the potatoes ready for planting. The little girl is happily employed in making mud-pies, like small children anywhere in the world under these circumstances!


The monastery at Thikse, Ladakh. Virtually the whole of the hill is covered in buildings belonging to the monastery, whilst the Gompa or temple crowns the top. Founded in the fifteenth century by monks of the Gelugpa, or ‘yellow hat’ school of Tibetan Buddhism, to which the Dalai Lamas belong.

Wednesday 13th April 2005:

12.45 and I’m sitting on a rock in hot sunshine at the foot of Thikse Gompa. The bus ride here was remarkable. Where else in India would you find that they don’t bother charging anyone for just going a couple of stops, or that they’d wait a few minutes whilst a passenger nipped off the bus to buy some bread? All along here, passed all this desert scenery, so similar to Oman. And so many fairy-tale castles and palaces and the like hanging precariously to the tops of cliffs. 


Building at Thikse Gompa.

If it is so beautiful now, in winter, then what must it be like in the other seasons? I’d dearly love to come back to see! And after all the heat, dust and pollution in Delhi, well, need I say more? I’ve not even been asked once for baksheesh, either. 

Mandala painted onto roof of entrance to Shanti Stupa, Leh. The Shanti Stupa, or Japanese Peace Pagoda, is one of more than 70 built around the world by the Japanese Buddhist Nipponzan Myohoji Organisation, which was run by Fujii Guruji. They were built to promote world peace.

indus at chog

The River Indus at Choglamsar . The Indus originates in Tibet, near Lake Mansarovar – a lake sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists – and after flowing through Northern Kashmir, including Ladakh, passes into, and flows the length of, Pakistan, to the Arabian Sea. So, ironically, the river that gave its name to the state of India, flows mainly through Pakistan.


Trees on the edge of Leh. Trees are highly important to Ladakhis – they provide timber for building, fuel, food in the form of walnuts and apricots, and fodder for animals. In all of Ladakh, the only trees that grow are willow, poplar, walnut and apricot.

16 thoughts on “Ladakh 3

  1. What a lovely post, Mick! Really enjoyed the virtual traveling. When I was a child in Greece, the bus going from Athens to Rafina port would stop, the driver would shout ‘Kanakis!’ (The name of a baker) and wait until everyone got off and bought bread. The bread was so good that the baker merited his own bus stop. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mick, the sense of peace and calm shines through where even a bus journey is a positve experience! Those buildings look so precarious, built into the vertical rock and the scenery is serene and beautiful. A thoroughly enjoyable and informative post.😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the three poisons (desire, ignorance and hatred).

    Allow me to speak in defense of ignorance.

    Everyone is ignorant about almost everything – but we know that, and to know that we are ignorant is wisdom. Ignorance is poison only when we refuse to acknowledge that we are ignorant – and that is arrogance, a poison far more venomous than ignorance.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The washed out look of your pictures (I suppose it’s a digital one or may be at the outset of technology) lend it a very different feel. This is stark contrast to the pictures of today. Ladakh is so very popular…you’ll amazed how many blogs are being written!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were all taken on film, Arv, and then scanned onto the computer. That probably accounts for that ‘washed out’ look at times.

      I’m sure there are plenty of blogs, now! Even when I went (2005) it was becoming a popular tourist destination, and I’m very glad I went so early in the season; I don’t remember coming across any other westerners there, although I’m sure there must have been some. It was still incredibly cold at night, and the snowline was only slightly higher than Leh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mick…Ladakh is must visit for every adventurous Indian youth…quite like the Everest for a mountaineer! which should explain the situation today! There are so many bike companies and rental agencies offering one for Leh -Manali road…so many tour operators! It’s crazy!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Mick…not just road, the flight route is also busy during tourist season. Now the tourism lobby has started promoting Ladakh in winters, too! Luckily, agitation by the local taxi union against the booming business of 2 and 4 wheeler renting has taken out some air. I feel anything that is hyped ruins a place…at least in’s true!

            Liked by 1 person

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