INFINITE CHARM

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.

steps of kids
Step by Step

This sweet charming kid rests against a colourful wall in the Monastery . His expression changed once he  became aware of the camera.

inside hemis
Camera makes even children conscious

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.

hemis and coy girl
Within the Hemis Monastery

This charming and extremely young Buddhist Child is on his way to becoming a Monk.

pic pls
Charmed by the Camera 

I was fortunate to sit amongst children near Leh, Ladakh and capture some delightful moments which I am sharing in this blog.

birth to old age
Cycle of Life

THE HIMALAYAN MONASTERY

The Beautiful and Amazing Hemis Monastery is hidden within the folds of the Himalayas , 40 kms from Leh in Ladakh, India.

Am sharing snippets of the  Awesome Hemis Monastery and the surroundings through pictures in a series of blogs.

You can check out http://www.drukpa-hemis.org for details on this Monastery and thus shall not repeat the same.

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.

hidden in the hills
Hidden in the Lap of the Himalayas

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.

from within
Reach out and touch the Himalayas

Beautifully integrated into the landscape, the construction can be a lesson for modern architects.

behold
Behold  the Beauty

The Hemis Monstery is located at a Height of 13000 feet and does leave you gasping for breath in awe.

TRADITIONAL MILKMAN

Travelling within India is like viewing a scene through a Kaleidoscope.

The sights and attire change dramatically as you move from Indian State to another.

Shifting from the Freezing Cold of Ladakh to Warm Rajasthan reveals Interesting  Views taken from a moving car near Ajmer, Rajasthan.

The featured image captures an elderly Milkman with Beautiful Brass Utensils, pushing his Bicycle on a bridge.

His Splendid  headgear called “SAAFA”  or “PAGDI” is replicated by two of the Three Wise Men enjoying a cup of Tea . They are seated on a wooden bench besides a busy street. Do not miss the Handmade Leather Shoes called “JOOTIS“.

three wise men
Three Wise Men

While the headgear remains Unchanged, the Bicycle has transformed into a Motorcycle alongwith one of the Brass Milk Containers into a lighter and larger Aluminium Container.

The Hand towel over the shoulder is a unique Multipurpose Garment much like a Fouta in Tunisia or Hammam Towel in Turkey.

 

on a bike
Milkman moving with the times

The picture above was taken through the windshield of a Car and thus slightly milky. 

HIMALAYAN SUNSET

Pictures were taken at the Shanti Stupa in Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir,India.

These Breathtaking Views need no words, so am Zipping Up.

Enjoy yourselves and witness the Setting Sun during the Freezing Winter Month of February in Leh.

golden
Golden Pagoda looks over Leh, Ladakh
leh view
Sun Sets over Leh Ladakh

 

leh at sunset
Crimson Clouds over a Monastery as the Sun Sets
golden pagoda
Gold From Clouds to the Pagoda

FOOD FOR THE GODS

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)

juices

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.

piled high
Unique Bread baked in Ladakh

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.

monks
Praying with Food

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.

food
The Nuns dance around Food in front 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.

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.

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.

INDIAN DESIGN

All the pictures showcase transformed Traditional Indian Articles or Symbols.

A visit to the India Design Fair held at Okhla , New Delhi showcased a bit of Traditional India in new robes. ( do check out my previous blog titled EYE)

These Lovely kettles in Copper  retain the the shape and look of a Tea Kettle you could spot on every Roadside in India. Keep your eyes peeled ?

copper kettles
Transforming Traditional Kettles

The Bed or Khattiya ( in Hindi) is a must in every Rural Home and Highway Dhaba in most parts of India.

khatiya
A traditional bed with a colourful Carper Design

The Hookah is used to smoke Tobacco and is an accent in the setting below to highlight the Rural Origins of the Colourful Transformed  Khattiya .

with hookah
Rural India’s tryst with Urban India

These Ceramic Containers called Amritbaan  ( in Hindi) were once a Must in every Home in India. They are primarily used to store Pickles and we still use them in my Home as well.

 

amritbaan
Traditional Containers for Pickles

On your travels look for Interesting shapes and articles you  find Unique to this amazing part of the Planet we call India.

ARDH KUMBH AT HARIDWAR

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)

mahadev
Har Har Mahadev

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.

millions throng the banks
Thousands throng the banks for the evening Aarti

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.

setting the water afire
The Oil lamps are Lit and the Prayers Commence

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.

lamp on fire
The Ganges Shimmers in the Light of the Oil lamps

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.

 

shimmering waters
Reflections in the Ganges

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.