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Lamayuru is the oldest and the most interesting monastery of Ladakh, situated 125 kilometers west of Leh. On the way to Leh from Srinagar, you come to this amazing region of dusty mountains with a bizarre but beautiful texture. Here, Lamayuru village is settled inside a small, bowl-shaped valley formed out of a badland area. A tale accounts that once this valley was filled with a lake, but upon the prayer of a pious Buddhist, the valley was emptied of the water. Geologists have also found signs of there being water in this area a long time ago. It may be due to the presence of water that the land has eroded in a strange way so as to form large and fascinating shapes in the mountain that give Lamayuru its identity.

It is believed that this monastery was founded by Rinchen Zangpo, the founder of the Alchi monastery, which falls on the same route. Zangpo, a great translator and builder, a monk himself, had been given a charge by the kings of Ladakh of building 108 monasteries. Of all the monasteries he founded, Lamayuru is the set in the most unusual and interesting place

The main gompa here had five buildings originally. However, four of those are mostly in ruined state today. There are some attractive murals in the monastery. The gompa also exhibits statues of bodhisattvas, chortens adorned with jewelry and ancient masks of chaam.

Incidentally the name of the gompa or monastery is Yung-drung Monastery (from Tibetan: gYung-drung - a swastika - a popular symbol in Bon, Buddhism, and other religions).

Because of the unique landscape and topography, Lamayuru is a true joy for photographers....which also means that finding a new POV is indeed very, very difficult. But as always I continue to venture and try out and this perhaps is one of the POVs lesser known from which the monastery can be seen as well as part of the 'moonscape' in the BG. The bus was a huge bonus :-)

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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