ROYAL RED ARCHWAYS

Raipur Village in Pali District , Rajasthan is a small intriguing Village on way to becoming a tiny Town as it expands and merges with village Haripur (home to the fabulous Lakshman Sagar) . Raipur is located 90 kms from Ajmer, off a fabulous Highway .

Rajasthan is a lovely state which truly reflects the Heritage of a Royal Past.

The pictures that follow were taken in  Raipur Fort Palace now located in the midst of the Raipur Village where the erstwhile Ruling Family resides todate.

Red is the Hallmark  of this Royal Palace from where ,Once Upon a Time, Regal Diktats were issued and executed.

The first glimpse of the Regally Red Archways to unfold  from the bustling village street of Raipur.

archway to the royal home
Ancient Archways reveal the First Gate to the Raipur Palace Fort

The Main Entrance from the alleys of the Town-Village as it exists to date.

main gate
Primary Gate to the Fort Palace

The Main Gate which leads to the courtyard and the numerous Palaces within the Raipur Fort complex.

to the main courtyard
Lord Ganesha adorns the beautifully Carved Doorway

 

You feel you have gone back in time, 400 years ago as you step into the main courtyard that leads to the various Palaces .

The Palace which is immediately behind the Royal Marble Throne.

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The beautiful Arches unique to Rajasthan

This was a peak into one of the relatively unknown  Royal Homes of Rajputana.

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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.

AMAZING WOMEN

Behold the Amazing Turquoise Attire of these Women of Ladakh.

These Amazing Ladies in  Traditional Dresses were Photographed during the Winter Hemis Festival at Shrey, Ladakh in February.

rear view
Absolutely Gorgeous Rear View of The Turquoise Headgear

The Ladies are carrying Gifts for His Holiness , the Spiritual Head of The Hemis Monastery in Ladakh.

the face
Happy adorning the Magnificent Headgear

A fascinating expression of faith can be witnessed during the Winter Hemis Festival when devotees line up in hundreds to Offer Gifts to their Spiritual Leader His Holiness and be blessed by him.

gifts for his holiness
Beautiful and Happy Faces

Is it a coincidence that today also happens to be Women’s Day ( 8th of March 2016) ?

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.

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.