Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh

The drive from Uley to the monastery at Alchi was a short one. The monastery was manned by a lone, old monk. In addition to handling his daily chores, he was also handing out the Rs. 20 ticket that would allow us an entry into the small temples inside the monastery. The temples had tall statues of Buddha and his desciples and walls covered in beautiful paintings - some dating back to 11th or 12th century. Photography inside is prohibited - mostly because the camera’s flash would wreck havoc with the colors of these barely-preserved paintings.

We came across this prayer wheel, a closer inspection of whose photo reveals that its lower spindle is supported inside a can whose contents were once Tuna In Oil”. If Buddha is the man we know through his teachings, he might not have approved (though I am told that Buddhism need not necessarily imply vegetarianism).

Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 1Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 1

The street leading back from the monastery was lined with souvenir sellers. It is here that I first noticed (and was quite besotted with) lapis lazuli - used in all sorts of trinkets and jewelry. The wife informed that I wasn’t the first person to be so charmed with the stone. Having read the poem, I must say that Yeats meant the poem to be about everything except the stone.

I was again impressed by the very existence of such well tended roads under such difficult conditions. Strangely, they don’t look out of place. The mountains seem to tolerate their presence. The less poetic of us will maintain that it is a truce that the Indian Army has forced the two to sign.

Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 2Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 2

Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 3Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 3

On returning to Leh, we got dropped all the way to the Leh Palace. Summers mean restoration work and large parts of the palace were under repair. The wooden sticks and the drying mud-bricks at the Palace’s terrace looked like they had been spewed out by the various openings in the palace’s walls.

Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 4Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 4

The balconies of the palace offer a wonderful view of the town below.

Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 5Ladakh Vacation - Day 4 - Alchi, Leh 5

We walked back to our guest house and spent the rest of the day lazing around. We’d need all the rest before the long, early-morning drive to Pangong lake the next day.

September 15, 2009