Monday, 24 October 2011

Fresh perspective on Ladakh travel

This is a place so saturated in Tibetan Buddhism that even Leh's tiny, anarchic plane terminal--Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport--is named for the lama of the nearby Spituk Monastery. (His 20th reincarnation is a 5-year-old, enthroned in 2010.) Religion dominates not only the interior lives of most Tibetan-descended Ladakhis, but also the terrain around them. Monasteries or shrines dedicate seemingly every hilltop, and bridges and rooftops ripple with prayer flags, sending blessings up and down the valleys with the wind. Sinuous, Andy Goldsworthy–esque mani walls raised from centuries of heaped prayer stones, each intricately hand-carved with the mantra "om mani padme hum," line the approaches to every village.

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