THE THREE IDIOT SCHOOL

Movies have a Huge Impact on our Lives.

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.

temple overlooks the school
The Rancho School and the Naropa Temple

The school was closed during the Winters when I happened to visit the Region.

himalayan playground
Himalayan Playground

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 .

rancho coffee shop
The School Coffee Shop

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.

 

himalayan view
Buildings integrated into the Beautiful Landscape

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.

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A SEA OF MAROON

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.

welcome
All paths led to His Holiness

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.

dragon gateway
A Beautiful Gate at the Entry to the  Naropa Temple Complex

The Grey Wall is the Boundary between the Naropa Temple 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.

happy birthday

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 .

maroon and himalayas
The Barren landscape is awash in a Sea of Maroon

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 ?

maroon all over

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.

EMPTINESS

Ladakh has a unique barren and serene Landscape.

The region is classified as an High Altitude Desert or a Cold Desert.

The vast barren Vista compels you to look inwards.

Buddhism is a Way of Life in Ladakh and seems to blend in beautifully with the Barren, Simple and Tranquil surroundings.

gateway to buddha
Gateway to Buddha

A drive from Leh to Shrey ( a village which is home to Rancho School made famous by the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots)  reveals the vast tracts of EMPTINESS.

the vast emptiness
To the Himalayas over tracts of NOTHINGNESS

There are kilometers of Land with nothing but Rocks and Barren Hills, a Land stripped Bare. An unusual but Divine Vista to behold.

An Emptiness that peers into your Soul within.

Flat roofed homes indicate that precipitation( rainfall) is rare or totally absent.

cold desert
Rocks strewn all over

A tiny tot of a  Buddhist temple breaks the monotony of the Brown Barren Himalayas laid bare by the powerful  Rays of the Sun.

Sunrays are intense in the high altitude  Air of Ladakh and quickly melt the Snow on the Hills exposed to the Sun.

barren hill and a small temple
Snow survives only in the Shadows

Temples and Monasteries are built on Hills and Hillocks and can be seen from miles all around.

The Pagoda style is Strangely seen only on Temples and not on Homes which are largely flat roofed.

I think I surprised the cyclist while taking this picture.

Temple on hill
A Temple in Ladhakh reminds me of a Lighthouse

Do read the earlier Blogs CHARMING LEH AIRPORT, SIGNS OF BUDDHA and FROZEN to connect to this absolutely mesmerizing region of India.

Stay on Board as we reach the now famous  RANCHO School to celebrate the Birthday of HIS HOLINESS. You will be swamped in a Sea of Maroon.

Watch out for the next post.

FROZEN

The Frozen Ice on the Bucket Chairs outside the CHARMING LEH AIRPORT ( please do check a previous blog thus titled for continuity) were a clear Sign of the sub zero temperatures in Leh, Ladakh during the Winters.

Barren Hills and Poplar Trees overlook a Ladhaki Home adorned with fluttering Buddhist Prayer Flags.

The Rays of the Sun at an high altitude are Welcoming and  Intense as they keep you warm and comfortable.

home and hills
A Home in Leh, Ladakh

Thick layers of Grass are stacked on rooftops so that the Homes remain warm once the Sun Sets and temperatures dip to minus twenty or thirty degrees centigrade during the winters in Ladakh.

 

grass on roofs
Grass acts as a Bio Insulater

The Cows in the region are small and of  have a dense fur to keep them warm. The Magpie glistens in the Sun and finds food amongst  Heaps of Snow.

Picture was taken outside the entrance to our Hotel Mahey Retreat in Leh, Ladakh, Jammu& Kashmir, India.

Mud Packed stone walls are a great ecological alternative to Cement and Bricks.

snow and cows
Snow, MagPie and Cow

A Quiet peaceful alley lined with Snow is the Hallmark of Leh during the Winters.

 

snow on alley
A quiet alley lined with Snow

Remain aboard as I keep unraveling the telltale Signs captured by the camera at the Charming Leh Airport.

SIGNS OF BUDDHA

As mentioned in my previous blog CHARMING LEH AIRPORT the camera had captured symbols or SIGNS which had foretold what was to be revealed in Leh, Ladakh.

The First Sign and it is the Featured image as well  in the previous post is  a car with Buddhist Prayer Flags.

The featured Image is of a small Stupa or Temple covered with Stone Art and seen near our  final destination , The Mahey Retreat Hotel .

The short drive form the Airport to the Hotel revealed that Ladakh was indeed the Land of Lord Buddha.

All the images that follow were taken from the car during the course of a drive taking us to our Hotel from the Airport at Leh, Ladakh, Jammu& Kashmir, India.

Leh palace and temple
LEH PALACE ON THE LEFT BELOW THE SNOW CAPPED HIMALAYAS

A large Prayer Wheel seen alongside one of the major avenues leading to the LEH PALACE and FORT built in the 17th Century.( see the picture above please)

Do observe a Dog sits patiently on the steps leading to THE PRAYER WHEEL.

the prayer wheel and the dog
A PRAYER WHEEL

Buddhist Symbols, the  Unique Script of Ladakh ( similar to the Tibetan script)  ,  and Frescoes adorn this little building which I could capture only partially.

buddhist symbols
The Himalayas provide a beautiful backdrop to a Buddhist Building enroute

This  small Stupa was spotted during the drive as well. Do observe the Prayer Flags.

 

a small stupa
Stupa and Prayer Flags

Leh sure has a unique and distinctive flavour. I was loving it, hope you do so as well.

Watch out for the the unraveling of the other signs mentioned in the previous blog as well.

CHARMING LEH AIRPORT

For me the first point of entry into Leh, Ladakh was the KBP Airport and there were many signs captured by the camera which foretold me of the sights to follow.

The Unique Blankets hung over doorways charmed me at the Airport. By the time I left I realized it was a practical Local way of retaining the Heat during the Bitterly Cold Winters of Leh.

airport at leh
Small Charming Airport at Leh

Volunteers from the Hemis Monastery welcomed us with White Silken Scarves. Theie gorgeous traditional woolen attire ensured they remain warm when temperatures fall to minus thirty degrees centigrade.

saropa and mountains
Traditional Welcome at the Airport

Ladakh is classified as a COLD DESERT as Rainfall is a Luxury. It falls in the rain shadow of the Lofty Himalayas ensuring Rain bearing Clouds seldom reach the region.

The result is a unique and stark Landscape bereft of even a blade of Grass as can be seen in the picture below taken at the Airport at Leh.

stark mountains at car park
Watching the International Borders

The temperature was minus Ten degrees Centigrade at 1000 hours when we landed. The frozen water on the chairs outside the airport bear testimony to the  statement above.

It was another sign that Ladakh will be Freezing Cold.

ice on chairs at airport
Brrr Freezing Cold

Having understood little of the signs and symbols at the time of arriving I now see in hindsight that many sights had already been foretold the moment I stepped out at the Airport at Leh.

 

car top
Off we go in the Powdered Sugar Car

Stay on Board as the Signs and symbols are unraveled as we travel through Ladakh.

LEH TEASER

Ladhakh is a unique region within the Northern most state of Jammu & Kashmir, India.

Leh is the capital of Ladakh and located at an altitude of 11480 feet ( 3500m)  in the lap of the lofty Snow Clad Himalayas.

This was my first trip to the region and was I excited.

A short one hour  flight connects Leh  to New Delhi .

Delhi T3 Airport
 0530 hrs at New Delhi Airport

Each region of India is wonderfully diverse and unique. Ladhakh is no exception and the change in attire and faces is apparent at  New Delhi Airport itself.

changing dress
The change in faces and clothes are apparent at the Boarding Gate itself

The Pilot announced the temperature was minus 10 degrees Centigrade, however I was overwhelmed by the snow covered Himalayas.

first look through the window
First Awesome look

Do observe  the Mountains in the foreground have no Snow and are absolutely barren.

The region of Ladhakh is known as a COLD DESERT.

 

snow peaks
Breathtaking view

Do await  more blogs here as well as at http://www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com.

This is as the Title says but a TEASER.