Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ladakh 2

Days passed quickly and we couldn’t leave Ladakh for a long time. It is difficult to describe in words the magnetism of this place, but we will try to tell more. 
Leh is situated at 3,500 m altitude on the dry Tibetan Plateau and is the capital of Ladakh. For m
any travelers it is difficult to get accustomed to the altitude and some even leave after suffering some weeks. We  are already three months in the Himalayas, and we did not come by plane, so we had no problems, except difficult  breathing the first days. Two things attracted us greatly here - the cosmic beauty of the moon-like landscape and cosmic kindness of the local people. Ladakhi people are quite different from the Indians and look more like Tibetans. There is no "Namaste" here, the greeting is "Juley." Nobody bothers us in the streets, nobody tries to sell you something or cheat you. People just smile and happily repeat "Juley! Juley. " I don’t know if Buddhism teaches them in love and understanding or the mountains makes them like this, but definitely we have a lot to learn from the Ladakhi people. Here the plastic bags are banned, everywhere is clean and we often see signs "Keep Ladakh clean!". The general rules "do not kill, not steal, not lie" are respected and it is very difficult to see someone angry. And why should you get angry in this paradise, often called the last Shangri La. Life flows slowly and smoothly, no hurry. We are walking slowly, talking calmly, smiling earnestly to every passer-by and we flow with the rhythm of the Ladakh. 


a nearby village named Thiksey
 Here are many Tibetan refugees who hardly differ from the Ladakhi. Tibetan markets with souvenirs and crafts with the sound of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum contribute to the Tibetan atmosphere. Almost every house has a separate room -temple, where they light aromatic sticks and sing mantras. Buddhist monks dressed in red robes roam the streets and cafes. This time they are even more numerous, because of the annual Drukpa teachings (a branch of Tibetan Buddhism) in the nearby village of Shey, where the greatest lamas and Rinpoches of India and Burma will attend. People from all over Ladakh had gathered in front of the temple to listen to the teachings. The crowd was huge, all sat on the ground, and the monks poured tea and mango juice to the audience.  The crowd was big but there was no problems, scandals or pushing, typical for Bulgaria, especially when there is something for free. People waited patiently on a queue over a mile long to enter the temple and pay respect to the Ripnoche. All listened attentively to the speeches, counted their bids or were spinning their prayer wheels. It was the most beautiful crowd, I wanted to hug them.

the annual Drukpa in Shey

the audience in front of the Shey temple
small part of the queue

some are meditating ... 

the temple in the village of Thiksey 
We wandered around the surrounding villages and temples and came across a ceremony at the monastery in Thiksey. Monks were playing local Tibetan trumpets and drums, while the old monk was repeating mantras and throwing things into the fire. 
Several days later, again we could not leave becausethe annual Ladakh festival was startingi. Again, people from all over Ladakh came to Leh for the opening, presenting their performances and dances. There were almost as many tourists as locals. There was lunch and tea for everyone. 
Our family in Tsavo made the festival special for us by giving us local traditional clothes. We changed into Ladakhi and became the attraction on the streets of Leh. Local people were smiling or maybe laughing at us for the quite short clothes, and tourists were taking pictures with us. I also took a lot of photos, but after a hundred shots my lens stopped working. At least I had a long and wide-angle lens and had to manage with them the next months. Repair service was possible only in Delhi. 

only our shoes are not traditional :) 

the opening of the Ladakh Festival


colorful Ladakhi costumes 
traditional shoes 


the 9-storey palace, which once was the tallest building in the world. 


typical way to wear a hat here 

dressed like Ladakhi
After the festival we helped in the garden of Tsavo we pulled 25 kg of carrots each and dragged them to the Guesthouse along with other vegetables ... there was material for thousands of momos. 
In the subsequent days of the festival we watched polo match, photographic exhibitions, traditional local market … 
The season was close to an end and we had to leave Shangri La before the first snow has come  and the high passes are closed. 
We started with Eli and Marek to Srinagar with the local bus. Because of fallen rocks on the road we had to wait 2-3 hours, but finally we arrived successfully in Srinagar.