Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village

Tripoto
20th Nov 2017
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village by Soumik Neogi

Follow on : https://www.instagram.com/soumik_neo/

After watching snow leopards play in the high mountains of Ulley(details in my previous post), it was time to start our journey towards Hemis. In the next 3 days, we will walk though Hemis shukpachan, Temisgam and finally Tar.

Starting towards Hemis, on the way Stanzin(my guide) suggested that we take a small detour and visit a meditation retreat, high up in the mountains of Ulley. These individual meditation retreats are spread across Ladakh. They were used by Buddhist monks of high calibre to carry their meditation alone, in the most remote environment.

The way to the meditation retreat was pretty steep, so we hid our bag in the opposite mountain top, away from foraging wild animals and started our climb.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 1/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 2/37 by Soumik Neogi

The retreat was used decades ago by a prominent monk. Later travellers have stayed here in bits and pieces to experience the environment and meditate.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 3/37 by Soumik Neogi

As we went inside we saw that it's a one storeyed building, with all required basic amenities including prayer room, bedroom, kitchen, wood storage, toilet and mesmerizing view of the mountains.

The ground floor has everything except the bed room.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 4/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 5/37 by Soumik Neogi
Wood storage
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 6/37 by Soumik Neogi
Leftover utensils
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 7/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 8/37 by Soumik Neogi
Toilet
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 9/37 by Soumik Neogi
Prayer room
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 10/37 by Soumik Neogi
Stanzin was quick to offer some prayers and light

The first floor has the room and the view.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 11/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 12/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 13/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 14/37 by Soumik Neogi
An old handmade door latch

This place has no sound, apart from the sound of wind, a perfect for meditation. Interestingly, there is a water stream by the side of this retreat, fed by the glaciers. But the condition right now is not great and staying is not advised as Stanzin told me.

After this visit, we had lunch and then we would start on the climb that will challenge by fears and senses.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 15/37 by Soumik Neogi

The climb was steep, road was very narrow and had loose gravels. I put the camera inside the bag as i felt the need to focus on the climb than the pictures, so no photos from the climb, but one. I would ask Stanzin multiple times out of fear "Are we going to go over this mountain? Where is the trail?". Stanzin would reply "This is the trail, don't worry, stay with me, you will make it"

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 16/37 by Soumik Neogi

After we reached the top i could not believe i walked up to this point and thanked Stanzin for this experience. Apart from this confidence enhancement, there was this awesome view.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 17/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 18/37 by Soumik Neogi

On our way down, Satnzin lighted some fire using the dry shrubs, as it was freezing cold.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 19/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 20/37 by Soumik Neogi

The way down was less steeper and you can walk very fast on the loose gravel.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 21/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 22/37 by Soumik Neogi

Before entering any village in Ladakh, there are stones with prayer carved on them. Hemis was no exception.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 23/37 by Soumik Neogi
Thousands of prayer carvings on rocks. They are reraly made anymore.

Hemis Sukhpachan is big and extremely beautiful village. As we entered, we could hear the sound of loud party music from far away. Later we learnt that almost the entire village was partying :D, and most of the houses were empty.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 24/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 25/37 by Soumik Neogi
Old stupas
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 26/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 27/37 by Soumik Neogi

The name shukpachan comes from the Juniper trees found here in abundance. These are sacred trees by local culture and the leaves are used as incense.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 28/37 by Soumik Neogi

One of the first things to catch my attention was the huge statue of Buddha, on top of the monastery. Its difficult to miss. After i saw this view, i wanted to stay at a place which will give me a similar view.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 29/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 30/37 by Soumik Neogi

There a many homestay options here. I did not stay with the one below, but looks beautiful.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 31/37 by Soumik Neogi

We were invited by an old lady to stay at her house and we liked the location as well. Kitchens here have modern touches as you can see on the background, which will be missing in more remote villages.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 32/37 by Soumik Neogi

She offered us the Ladakhi tea. By local culture, one should not swallow the floating butter as they would be looked upon as people who do not know how to drink. Outsiders are exempted.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 33/37 by Soumik Neogi

After tea and some rest we went out to look around a bit.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 34/37 by Soumik Neogi
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 35/37 by Soumik Neogi
Last remaining wall of the fort
Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 36/37 by Soumik Neogi
Watching over

I spent some time in the evening, trying to take photos of star trail, climbing up the ladders to the rooftop. Stanzin is very interested in photography and stayed with me on the rooftop, discussing about our experiences.

Photo of Less visited places of Ladakh - Stories of Meditation hut and an idyllic village 37/37 by Soumik Neogi

Next day we start for temisgam in the morning.

Follow on : https://www.instagram.com/soumik_neo/

Be the first one to comment