Children are always charming and in Ladakh the Charm is heightened to the Power of Infinity.
Do read up the blog titled “The 3 Idiots” on the Rancho School located near Leh,Ladakh.
This sweet charming kid rests against a colourful wall in the Monastery . His expression changed once he became aware of the camera.
The Coy Girl was shy and kept covering her face with the white stole till patience paid off and I captured this image within the Hemis Monastery outside the Upper Residence of His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa.
This charming and extremely young Buddhist Child is on his way to becoming a Monk.
I was fortunate to sit amongst children near Leh, Ladakh and capture some delightful moments which I am sharing in this blog.
The featured Image and the picture below are the first glimpses of the Hemis Monastery ( building in yellow) which is discretely located and practically invisible till you are literally at it’s doorstep.
This picture was taken from the main courtyard of the Monastery where the Winter Hemis Festival is held annually in February.
It is only now I realize the colour yellow is from the silken banners.
Beautifully integrated into the landscape, the construction can be a lesson for modern architects.
The Hemis Monstery is located at a Height of 13000 feet and does leave you gasping for breath in awe.
Mountains of Food resembling the Himalayan Hills in the background were lined up before His Holiness during the Winter Festival at Rancho School,Shrey, Ladakh. ( do read the previous blogs titled EMPTINESS,SEA OF MAROON and THREE IDIOTS)
Banner reads”Live To Rejoice”
The Food was Blessed by the Spiritual Leader His Holiness and then distributed amongst the Devotees at the End of Each Day.
Many Monks were seated on the Dias and chanted from Buddhist scriptures. Mountains of Biscuits and Food are Piled Up High in front of them.
Graceful Dance performed before His Holiness, the Spiritual Leader of the Hemis Monastery, seated on a High Pedestal.
The entire festivities are part of the Birthday Celebrations of His Holiness.
The attire and form of Worship are Unique to the region and has probably mutated over centuries to adapt to the way of Life in Ladakh.
This statement is underlined and highlighted many times over at THE RANCHO SCHOOL at Shrey, Ladakh.
A huge blockbuster of a movie titled THE THREE IDIOTS highlights the creative educational practices followed at this Himalayan School in the desolate landscape of Ladakh.
The school is managed by the Hemis Monastery which was founded in the 11th Century. The Naropa Temple ( seen in the picture below from the Rancho School) is dedicated to Naropa, the founder of the Drukpa lineage of the Hemis Monastery.
The school was closed during the Winters when I happened to visit the Region.
The Rancho School Coffee Shop doubles up as a restaurant or Dining Area during the Winter Festival which coincides with the Birthday of His Holiness . ( do read the previous blog titled SEA OF MAROON)
The building blocks of the entire school are Locally available Stones and not Bricks.
The entire school premises are powered by Solar Energy .
The School is surrounded by the Lofty Himalayas , Buddhist Temples and Stupas.
The picture below was taken from one of the Hostels at Rancho School.
The Rancho School makes Movies come to Life.
Domestic tourism from other parts of India to Ladakh increased 500% after the movie rocketed to the top of the Charts.
In the first blog on Leh, Ladakh titled CHARMING LEH AIRPORT, I had mentioned certain signs which forecast what was to be unveiled in the hours and days to follow.
The posts SIGNS OF BUDDHA , EMPTINESS and FROZEN unraveled Three such Symbols, this post is the fourth in the series.
On reaching the Naropa Temple ( Famous for the Hemis Festival or Kumbh of the Himalayas) and the Rancho School ( made famous by the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots) at Shrey, Ladakh I was greeted with a SEA of MAROON.
Buddhist Devotees draped in shades of Maroon had reached Shrey in thousands to celebrate the Birthday of His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa.
An Awesome and Stunning Gate crowned by two Dragons around the Buddhist Circle of Dharma . Unfortunately my illiteracy prevents me from reading the script on the Golden Gate.
The Grey Wall is the Boundary between the NaropaTemple and the famous Rancho School. Both of which are managed by the Hemis Monastery which in turn is headed by the Spiritual Leader His Holiness of Drukpa Lineage.
The Himalayas look upon the Celebrations taking place in the valley below. The Birthday Celebrations coincide with the Winter Festival held at the Hemis Monastery.
The Dragon Flag is the Symbol of the Hemis Monastery
Devotion and Faith help thousands of Monks and Devotees brave the Icy Chill of Winters at Ladakh as they sit in the open , under the gaze of the snow capped Himalayas, listening to their Spiritual Leader His Holiness the G. Drukpa .
Despite an extremely hard and tough life all you see in Ladakh are Happy and Cheerful Faces.
Was the Secret of Happiness their faith in Tibetan Buddhism or the Colour Maroon they adorned , or both ?
If you recall the initial picture in the CHARMING LEH AIRPORT showcases cheerful Buddhist Monks in Robes of Maroon greeting us.
Who says you cannot see the Future ? Travel with Mukul and Behold the Faithful.
The ARDH KUMBH at Haridwar takes place once in 6 years and millions express their faith by thronging the banks for a dip in the Holy Ganges.
Hindu Mythology states that the Holy Ganges descended from Heaven into the flowing locks of Lord Shiva ( see the picture below) , from where the Goddess Ganga gently flows onto Planet Earth via the Himalayas.
A larger than life statue of Lord Shiva blesses all the pilgrims who arrive at Haridwar ( Doorway to the Lord)
The Aarti ( Prayers) to the The Goddess Ganga is held every evening at Har Ki Pauri, ( At the the feet of the Lord) , Haridwar.
However this evening is special as it on the eve of an Auspicious day ( Mauni Amavasya) when a dip in the Ganges is considered extremely beneficial.
The Faithful assemble in thousands along the banks of the Holy River eagerly awaiting the Sun to Set and the Aarti to commence.
The River shimmers in anticipation and the perceptible religious fervour reaches a climax as the lights are turned on and first of the Lamps are Lit.
The heat from the lamps warms my cheeks as the flames from the Oil Lamps reach the Black Skies and the mammoth crowds sing in Unison in praise of the Goddess Ganga under a Moonless Sky .
Lo, Behold the magnificent AARTI at the Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar, Utrrakhand, India.
The Ardh Kumbh has commenced at Haridwar and will continue till April 2016. It is an experience of a lifetime I would not wish to miss.
The mammoth crowd magically disappears within minutes of the conclusion of the Aarti at Har Ki Pauri, leaving the River alone to reflect the lights of the temples.
There is a website you can access to see the Auspicious dates or you can go on any suitable day to behold the spectacle at Haridwar.
Do watch the Power of Faith during the Ardh Kumbh.
The India Art Fair is annually held in January at the NSIC grounds, Okhla in New Delhi.
It was an amazing opportunity to see some fabulous works of Art brought together under one Roof.
The threads that bind the four works of art selected by me for this blog are:
The Artists of all the paintings are Anonymous.
They are all almost 200 years old dating to the 19th Century.
All of them are expressions of Faith and reveal tales from Hindu Mythology.
The Colourful and detailed featured Image of Maa Durga ending the terror of the Rakshas ( Demon) Mahishasur portrays so many symbols and tales that it would take me years to understand and pen them down.
The large almond shaped eyes are a signature of the artists of Bengal and Maa Durga is portrayed as such to date.
The painting below beautifully illustrates Lord Shiva with his wife Parvati seated on their vehicle the Bull, Nandi. Mount Kailash in the the Himalayas is his fabled abode which is depicted in the picture below.
An unusual potrayal of Goddess Parvati depicted as Mother with her younger son Lord Ganesha.
The crown in the painting seems to be an influence from the Mughal Period and is repeated in all the pictures above as well.
Maa Durga is an incarnation of Goddess Paravati who assumes a Fierce and Powerful form armed with various weapons to end the Evil of the Demon Mahishasura.
Symbolism and Philosophy is deeply entrenched in all the depictions and portrayals in the paintings.
The painting of the Goddess Saraswati below is distinctively different from those above.
The headgear and attire are more in tune with depictions from Southern India. The style was made extremely popular by the famous artist Raja Ravi Verma from Travancore ( now in modern day Kerala).
The attention to detail is simply mind blowing as the Jewellery is visible through the extremely fine and translucent Saree that drapes the Goddess of Wisdom.
The Veena ( musical instrument in her hands) , the string of White Pearls and the Vedas ( Holy Books ) symbolize the Goddess of Fine Arts and Knowledge.
All the paintings show the fascinating minds of the Anonymous Artists who have unfortunately been lost in the Mists of Time.