Category Archives: Himalayas

Leh, Ladakh Flood and Land slide Appeal Funds

Not many people know of my beloved places, Ladakh, India was deeply affected by the flash floods and landslides  early August 2010. This  has affected many villages in Leh, the major city of Ladakh. This area is not widely reported in world news compare to Pakistan and China. Please help these beautiful peaceful buddhist people who have been so kind to me while I was there.

Winter is coming soon, and here in Ladakh, winter comes harsh and punishingly cruel. The affected villagers need shelter, clothes and many basic equipment for winter. Please send cash directly, collecting clothes and others would be a logistical nightmare. So who should you send your donations to?

There are plenty of places are seeking your funds, but always make sure your donations really get to the people who needs it rather than filtered through various levels of the organisation. Needless to say it is your responsibility to ensure where your donations get received and what organisation really calls to you.

Please donate to :

Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh, Ladakh

Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre
Devachan, P.O. Box # 22, Leh – Ladakh 194101, INDIA
Ph: +91-1982-264372 Mobile: +91-9906902025, +91-9419178667
http://www.mahabodhi-ladakh.org

Name of the Bank: Citibank,NA,
Account No: 0-412501-004
Name: Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre,
Bank address: Jeevan Bharti Building, 124, Connought Circus,
New Delhi- 110 001.
Swift Code – CITIINBX
F.C.R.A. # 152710017

Donations within India
Name of account: Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre
Account No. 10942164077
Name of the bank: State Bank Of India
Bank address: State Bank of India,
P.O. Leh, Ladakh (J&K) 194 101
Branch code: 1365
RTGS Code: SBIN0001365
Swift code# : SBININBBA280

IN EUROPE
Buddha Haus Meditations-und Studienzentrum e.V.
Contact Person:
Helga Weinmann-Adam, Gerhard Adam
Ottacker 18 ,  D-87488 Sulzberg ,  GERMANY
Tel.: 08376-8498, Fax: 08376-976431, E-mail: AdamGerhard@t-online.de
http://www.buddha-haus.de

IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Mahabodhi Metta Charitable Fund
Contact Persons: Ms. Carla Montagno & Dr. Tim Moore
31147 Blue Jay Court, Coarsegold, California 93614 USA
Tel: 001-559 683 2512, Fax:001-559 229 8642 , Email: drpins@sti.net
http://www.mahabodhimettausa.org

Dr. Noor V.Gillani, President
The PYAR Fondation
466 Sussex Drive, Huntsville, AL 35824, USA
(256) 658-1101, (256) 961-7755 (Fax), Email: gillani9999@gmail.com
http://pyarfoundation.org

IN MALAYSIA
Mahabodhi Desk Ladakh, Malaysia
Contact Persons:
Sis. Siew Hua
ngshua@hotmail.com
Tel: 012 260 8190

Bro. Charlie Chia
chialuimeng@gmail.com
Tel: 0122893887
email: mimc.malaysiadesk@gmail.com
http://www.mahabodhi-ladakh.blogspot.com

———————————————–

More photos of the devasated Ladakh can be seen first hand here

Nagasena Thupstan Lundup’s album for Mahabohi Center

Drupa.org

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Some Images of the Himalayas at tumblr

Created a photo album via tumblr for some of my images of Ladakh, Himalayan India.

After going through about 8gb of images, managed to edit it down to a few. I love tumblr for its micro-blogging platform and its rather creative editable html type. It does help me to present these lovely images without going through the painstaking coding design like most other platforms

Here’s a short collection from my 1tb worth of travel images yet to be edited!

http://travellust.tumblr.com/

Dressing up for the High Lama, Korzok Village Ladakh

Korzok Village, Ladakh, Himalayan India.

The lady of my guesthouse was dressing up for the High Lama’s visit to Korzok Village.

When I was just about to leave the house in the morning for a walkabout. I spotted her from the half open room while she was just about to finish dressing up.   Had unbashingly invited myself into her bedroom and she welcomed me quite openly although she was a little amused on how excited I was seeing her dressing up.

I photographed her dressing and helped her with her coat and jewellery. Her head gear lined with precious turquoise was incredibly heavy and it was amazing how she could wear that for the whole day. The whole setup was heavy and it probably  took quite awhile to dress.

You could tell how precious every gear and every jewellery were to her as she unwrapped them after taking them out from a wooden chest. Obviously these were her only possessions from her dowry as often females were only given these, passed down from their mothers as their only financial property.

We couldn’t really communicate as I couldn’t speak Ladakhi and know only little Hindi, and she, spoke only little Hindi and no English and all Ladakhi.

In between my hand signals and non-existent hindi, I came to know that she was one of the village representatives to receive the High Lama who was coming for the blessings and she motioned that she was also going to dance for the festival.

Really did wish I could speak Ladakhi, I could have communicated with her and perhaps asked her more about her life in this remote little village.

Korzok Village Ladakh

Korzok Village Ladakh

Korzok Village Ladakh

Korzok Village Ladakh

Korzok Village Ladakh

Lakdahi Toilet

Ladahi toilets are one of the cleanest toilets I have ever been to, even though its just a hole in a shack. There is no water, just mud and soil. The odour is bearable, there isn’t any really horrid smell compared to those water sewage septic toilets.

In other places in the Himalayas, instead of mud, they use millet husk or wheat husk to cover up your daily soils. and the pigs will feast under the shack. Just in case you are wondering, yes people do eat those pigs during festival times.

Enroute to Tsokar, I saw these horses

Enroute to Tsokar, Changthang District, Ladakh, Himalayan India

Tourist treks and horses

These horses were returning to Leh after a week’s trek guiding tourists around, popular trekking routes consist of treks around Changthang plateau doing the popular Tsokar to Tsomoriri route.

Not many travellers know that their trekking horses usually come from around Leh instead of around Changthang plateau. The horsemen would bring their horses to Tsokar, meeting the tourists who usually commute there with the jeeps.  There are not enough trekking horses around Tsokar or Tsomoriri to cater for the large number of tourist treks during the peak season. Horses are expensive and not many villages around the Changthang plateau can afford to have that many horses living in their property. Only those around Leh would be able to possess four or more horses especially if they are connected to the tourist trade.

They usually take 5 days to reach their trekking destination before embarking on the  trek. A typical tourist trek takes a further 7 days from Tsokar to Tsomoriri Lake. After which the horses return to Leh 5 days later.

Arduous work for these horses and for their owners, still better compared to the people around the much poorer region of Changthang plateau who live on subsistence farming and breeding pashmina goats. In my previous post, I did mention that Pashmina goats are usually bred around Changthang region and not in Kashimir.

Likir Village view from Gompa

Likir Village view from Likir Gompa, Ladakh Himalayan India

Likir Village is about 60km from Leh, Ladakh and accessible via the daily public buses from Leh’s bus station, then its a fairly easy sandy 3 – 5km walk into the village. Most tourists probably would take the day tour which combines a few gompa visits especially if they are only in Leh for a few short days.

To get there on your own, its possible but buses from Leh to Likir starts from noon as the buses originate from Likir village ferrying the villagers to the Leh town in the morning before returning at noon.

On return, I hitched a ride back via a jeep. It was getting dark and feeling a little anxious, I didn’t want to wait. There might have been buses on the main road if I had waited long enough. I took a chance coming here, tt was either miss the rides back to Leh, or stay overnight at the village, like what I did for other gompa visits.

I arrived to Likir in later part of the afternoon, and so had to wait for the attending monk to open the doors to the main gompa for quite awhile. It was fairly a hit and miss affair but with a little wait and luck, a small group of local Ladakhis arrived for some pilgrimage trip, the monk  appeared, (for the locals knew where to look for him) and open all the rooms including prayer rooms which usually would’nt have been opened for tourists.


Likir Gompa, Likir Village, Leh, Ladakh, Himalayan India

It wasn’t particularly a memorable gompa despite it being one of the oldest gompas around Leh. The rooms were fairly dark and there were no photography in the chambers belonging to the darker guardians usually called wrathful deities. There were no photography, the rules’ reason being that it was for the respect of these wrathful deities and for the safety of this photographer who might offend these powerful beings. Personally for me, I refrained from taking any photos out of the respect of the Lakdahi pilgrims I was following around.

The view of the wheat colored millet fields of the Likir village was kinda pretty and that was my highlight for this place. Many other gompas I had been to, didn’t have this gorgeous view overlooking the millet fields and the the village.

Likir Gompa or Monastery belongs to the Yellow Hat of Tibetan Buddhist Sect. It is more popular for its large Maitreya statue situated out in the open, behind the gompa. I failed to get any decent shots of it for you to see, as a light shower descended upon me when I was there. Besides that I was suffering from an overdose of gompas and buddhist statues for the week and so was immuned and jaded to all the beauty around me. Such is life!

In the interiors of the main gompa, you might be interested in the ghostly yellow sect robes that the monks use for their cold early morning prayers. Will post those photos up when I find them.

Korzok Village Dance Preparations

Korzok  Village, Tsomoriri, Changthang district plateau, Lakdah , Himalayan India

-continued from the last post.

The lady of my guesthouse was dressing up as I left the house in the morning for a walkabout. I photographed her dressing up and helped her with her costumes and jewellery. I had unbashingly invited myself into her bedroom and she welcomed me quite openly although she was a little amused how excited I was seeing her dressing up. Her head gear lined with precious turquoise was incredibly heavy and it was amazing how she could wear that for the whole day. The whole setup was heavy and took quite awhile to dress.

You could tell how precious every gear and every jewellery were to her as she unwrapped them after taking them out from a wooden chest. Obviously these were her only possessions from her dowry as often female were only given these passed down from their mothers as their only financial property.

We couldn’t really communicate as I couldn’t speak Ladakhi and know only little Hindi, and she, spoke only little Hindi and no English.  I came to know that she was going to meet the High Lama who was coming for the blessings and she motioned that she was also going to dance for the festival. Really did wish I could have communicated with her and perhaps asked her more about her life in this remote little village.

Along the  only street out of Korzok, I came upon this bunch of women all dressed in their finest costumes, they gathered and then quickly disappeared back down to the mud lined houses.

Curious and wondered what they were up to, I was walking around from house to house,  took me quite a while before I found them hidden away at one of the ladies’ houses. They were rehearsing for their folk dance in preparation of the upcoming festival.

Couldn’t really understand what they were doing, it was a form of line dancing where they held their hands and walked front and then back while singing one of the village songs.

They often stopped and discussed what they would do next then continued on with their humming. It got kinda repetitive after that.

The head gear lined with turquoise stones was usually their only prized finanical possesions and the women usually were given very little property, except for those costumes and jewellery. Their silk cape lined with pashima sheep wool which was their main live stock in their village.

Waiting for the High Lama

Korzok Villagers welcoming the high lama

Place : Korzok Village, Tsomoriri, Changthang district plateau , Ladakh, Himalayan India

Suddenly in a flurry, the usually sedate villagers all dressed up in their traditional costumes started arriving from afar, strolling down the only road in this remote village.

A high lama was visiting the village along with the District Commissioner of Changthang region and the villagers bring their offerings and silk scarfs awaiting for the lama’s blessings

Visiting Korzok Village

I arrived at Korzok village with the intent to photograph the upcoming cultural festival.

When I arrived, I asked around,  it seems no one really knew anything about it, and didn’t know when it was suppose to happen.

Many tourists do visit this sleepy little village but only as a short overnight transit to visit beautiful Tsomoriri Lake or as a rest stop from popular Tsokar to Tsomoriri treks, before their onward journey either to Leh, the Capital city of Lakdah or back to Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Seldom do people stay more than a day let alone more than two days.

It is interesting to note that Korzok village, Tsomoriri is still a trading outpost for Pashmina wool. Many nomadic goat herders pass through this village trading their precious and highly prized wool before the wool gets exported to Kashmir to be manufactured into expensive Pashmina scarfs. Contrary to what people believe about Pashmina, they are not come from Kashmir, rather, the goats are bred in Ladakh, particularly around Changthang region before exporting the commodity to Kashmir for manufacturing. Many of these herders are fairly improvished selling their lowly priced commodity to rich traders. Imagine how expensive your Pashmina scarfs or sweaters are and to realise how these herders get badly paid for their work.

The village does experience its fair share of comings and goings from tourists, traders and nomadic people alike and at times is not so sleepy.  The village use to be quite wealthy from the numerous trades of sheep, goats and other livestock but it seems to be quite a poor village now struggling for the tourist dollar.

On Arrival

When I first arrived to Korzok village, it was initially quite empty, and had almost a desolate feel to it, there were two tea houses which caters to the transit travellers situated along the only mud road in the village.  Suddenly a large group of Israeli tourists in this cranky public ex-school descended into this quiet little village right after I had arrived . They were frantically looking around for their over-night accomodation. As it happens they were on their way to Manali after spending some time in Leh. Quite the noisy bunch they took camp at the only two tea houses and decimated all the food for the night. I was feeling a little drained from the travels already , my travel mates on the same jeep to the village took a little turn for the worse, the Russian couple were experiencing a little attitude sickness as Korzok was around 3000 meters above sea level.They found their accomodation and remained there for most of the day.

After much walking around and asking where and when would the festivities occur, it concluded that there were no festivals, I was feeling rather disappointed but hopeful, and decided that I should stay in the village for a few days despite the inital disappointment.

The next morning it became a quiet little village again, and I took walks around the village and to Tsomoriri Lake which was only a short walk away. The weather was a beautiful blue in the morning, before it quickly turned grey and overcast. But it was a good sign, with me asking once again at the Monastery and then back to the main tea house, the reply came back, there was indeed a small festival happening, a High lama was visiting, they might have a celebration for him, however they did not know what time he would arrive, but he would indeed come visit either today or the next 2 days.

A high lama had decided to visit on invitation of the Changthang district commissioner who was the one organising this little cultural festival that had been publicised in Leh.

Korzok Village Festival Preparations

The villagers hanging up a banner just  before the Lama arrive  at the Monastery

Back to the District Commissioner, I met up with him, a very humble unassuming and friendly man.

His views on the festival :  if there were more tourist still around, he would organise a little cultural dance and perhaps a horse race, if not, there will not be a festival but just a blessings ceremony by the high lama. For after all this little show was to be organised in conjunction with the much bigger tourist cultural festival back in capital city of Leh.

Obviously, the Lakdah Tourist board and the district didn’t inform the villagers that until the very last day!

The next 2 day became this flurry of activities, the villagers started preparing for the dances, and the monks were bringing out their costumes and all the gear for the cham dance. I was surprised how quickly they got into the act of things. They must be quite experienced with such spur of the moment activities. The other villagers soon came from afar crowding the streets all dressed in their finest.

Korzok Village Festival

From a quiet street it turned crowded, many villagers from around Korzok and Tsomoriri lake started streaming in dressed in their traditional costumes with intermittent dust storms blowing over the small village.

Korzok Village Festival

The procession starts with the village heads walking along as the high lama rolls in on a jeep, with the villagers lined up awaiting for their blessings. It was a rather quick affair and the high lama was ushered off to the gompa into his resting chambers.

Story to be continued in the next post with more photos of the festival preparations

For more about the Cham dance,  you can see the photos here and here.

Crocs Shoes in the Himalayas!

Korzok Village, Lakdah, Himalayan India

Crocs shoes are everywhere in the Himalayas.

They are so popular that even in Korzok Village, the remotest part of Ladakh, Himalayan India, the children wear them.

The frequent trading between China and the Himalayas seen many made-in-China goods around even in remote villages like Korzok, just a few hours away from the China Border

Crocs Shoes!

Finally I met the Dalai Lama!

Finally I saw the Dalai Lama

Persons to meet before I die :

Met the Dalai Lama = CHECKED!

I was pretty blessed to have met the Dalai Lama in Ladakh, he was holding a Dharma teaching for 4 days.

I subsequently met him a few times while he was in Leh meeting up with the locals organisations.

He has such a huge presence even with 30,000 people who gathered for his teachings, he glowed in aweness. My heart skipped a few beats when I saw him the first time.

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