A couple of our days in Ladakh were spent touring the monasteries within a two hour radius of Leh. These striking structures can be seen for miles away, perched up on rocky outcroppings throughout the Indus Valley. They all shared the same color scheme: white walls with red and black trim. Inside they were mostly spartan except for the temples themselves, which were full of richly colored murals and figurines of various Buddhist deities. There were usually some shelves of holy writings as well.
I can’t say I understood what any of it meant, unfortunately. It would have been nice to understand the significance of the things we were seeing. The smell inside the temples was incomparable, though. Maybe it’s the dry, ancient wood, but it reminded me of cleaning out the Abbey several years back.
At the Chemde monastery we were invited in to the tea room to have chai and conversation with several of the lamas (monks). There were a couple scruffy looking ones who, apart from their red robes, could have been any twenty-something Ladakhis and there was a middle-aged lama who seemed to be in charge and used a cell phone. Surprised by this level of technological engagement, we asked if he was on Facebook too. “No, no, no,” the younger monks quickly assured us.
Then there was this 92 year old gem: