Connect with us


Ladakh, where Buddhist spirituality, culture reign supreme



IANS Photo IANS Video Making of Neerja | Starring So... Subscribe To Affiliates IANS PhotoIANS VideoIANS MultimediaIANS HindiIANS LiveBusiness WireBollywood CountryIANS publishingIANS SoftwareIANS ConsultancyPR Newswire Common Links Advanced Search All the Headlines Back to index2016-09-29 A | A- | A+ Ladakh, where Buddhist spirituality, culture reign supreme

Leh, Sep 29 : Ladakh — once the hub of the ancient Silk Route — is aptly described as a place where Buddhist spirituality and its ancient culture reign supreme amidst virgin nature.

It’s a cold desert in northern India, dotted by tiny hamlets spread over the Himalayan peaks adjoining Tibet, where one can simultaneously have a close brush with sunburn and frostbite in summer.

Leh, the headquarters of Ladakh, is connected by road — open only five months a year due to heavy snowfall — from Srinagar and the distance of 434 km takes two days with a night halt at Kargil town; and almost equidistant from the picturesque Manali tourist resort in Himachal Pradesh via the picturesque Lahaul Valley. The latter route is more treacherous.


file photo

Travelling by air is the most convenient way to reach Leh, available round the year.

“It’s a place where spirituality and culture co-exist, where traditional life is thriving by adapting green, modern technologies. It’s truly called a crown jewel,” remarked British tourist Alfred Martin.

For Malaysia-born Michelle Yeoh, famous for her role in Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning martial arts love story “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, visiting the “rooftop of the world” is a spiritual journey. The analogy, however, was not exactly appropriate as the expression “Roof of the World” generally refers to Tibet.

“It’s a spiritual journey for me every time. This land of high mountain passes always reminds me of a stronghold of Buddhist art, culture and spirituality and this spirit of purity is rarely seen elsewhere in the world,” Yeoh told IANS.

She was in Ladakh earlier this month for the week-long Naropa festival, a once-in-12-year celebration of the birth anniversary of the great Indian saint Naropa, at the famed 17th century Hemis monastery, located 40 km from Leh.

“From July till late October is the best period to explore ancient monasteries and trek to a host of mountain passes,” remarked tour operator Sonam Dawa in Leh.

Ladakh reported a tourism boom in 2015, attracting 146,501 visitors, including 19,075 foreigners, up more than 25 percent from the previous year, according to the local administration.

This year, till July, it saw 161,444 tourists and a majority of the foreigners were from Israel, France, Britain and the US.

The entire Ladakh region is populated mainly by tribals. The climatic conditions are harsh as much of the land is a cold desert where the mercury remains below minus 30 degrees Celsius in winter for weeks on end.

The staple food is barley, wheat, peas, rice, rapeseed and salted tea mixed with yak butter.

From the world-acclaimed Hemis monastery to Druk Padma Karpo School, also known as “Rancho’s School” after the Aamir Khan character in the film ‘3 Idiots’, these places speak about the unique spirit of Ladakh, from an ancient past to the innovative present.

Image result for pangong lake

Built in 1630 by Druk Staktsang Raspa, a student of the fifth Gyalwang Drukpa, the monastery holds the Hemis Festival every year in summer in honour of Guru Padmasambhava, the eight-century Indian guru revered for spreading Buddhism in the Himalayas.

The monastery’s museum is a repository of an astounding 1,500 artefacts, some dating back 1,400 years.

Just an hour’s steep uphill hike from the Hemis Monastery takes you to the Gotsang cave and retreat centre, a spiritual journey.

Chemdrey, one of Ladakh’s greatest fortress monasteries, is 45 km from Leh, en route to the picturesque Nubra Valley and the world’s highest salt water lake Pangong that freezes in winter.

The statute of Padmasambhava is the most important statue in the Chemdrey monastery.

The Shrey Palace, located 15 km south of Leh, houses a 12-foot statue of Buddha in the temple of Shakyamuni, one of the largest metal statues in Ladakh.

The palace, which boasts a view of 108 stupas , is owned by a royal family of Ladakh. Monks of the Drukpa lineage are taking care of it.

Adventure and thrills lie west of Leh.

The mighty Indus and Zanskar rivers are popular for whitewater rafting. The place where the blue waters of the Zanskar and the green of the Indus join, some 36 km from Leh, is known for its most beautiful views.

There is also the famous Sikh shrine, Gurdwara Patar Sahib, managed by the Indian Army, 20 km from Leh.


File Photo

Getting to Leh:

How to travel: In summer, by public or private transport. From Manali to Leh via Keylong; From Srinagar to Leh via Kargil.

Leh is connected by air from Delhi and Jammu.

Where to stay in Leh: Small hotels, guest houses and even homestays with local people. Interestingly, there are no houses left in Leh, only guest houses.

Buddhist leader The Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order, is promoting homestays among the locals by adopting eco-friendly ways. ( IANS Vishal Gulati )



SpiceJet to start Shirdi-Delhi flight from October




New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Budget carrier SpiceJet will commence flight service on the Shirdi-Delhi-Shirdi sector from October 1, said the airline on Monday.

“Our new flight will offer an immediate boost to religious tourism that the city is best known for,” Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet, was quoted in a statement.

Besides, it will also launch a new daily direct flight on the Mumbai-Kanpur route from October 8.

The airline will also operate first direct flight on the Mumbai-Jaisalmer route starting October 29 and a third direct flight on Mumbai-Kolkata sector from November 1.

Continue Reading


13 Indians, Israelis with blind climbers, scale Mt. Kilimanjaro



Mumbai, Sep 24:  In an unique adventure sports initiative, a group of blind and able-bodied climbers from India and Israel have scaled the world’s fourth highest and Africa’s tallest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, an organiser said here on Monday.

The climb between September 8-14 was billed as India’s first Inclusive Climb. It included two blind climbers from India and one from Israel, besides 10 others, said the founder of Summitting4Hope (S4H) and expedition leader Anusha Subramanian.

“The climb to the 5885-metre high Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, is another victory of inclusion, which is close to the hearts of S4H and Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF).

“It re-evaluated our rigid views about disability and shattered stereotypes that plague persons with disability,” Subramanian, a media professional told news-persons.

She said it is appalling that as a society, we define what ‘they can’ and ‘cannot do’, but combating severe fatigue and acute mountain sickness, all the participants successfully summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The inclusive climb included 14-year old Baepi Donio of Israel — the youngest climber, besides a German teacher, a mother-son duo, two independent filmmakers and six local and three Indian mountain guides in the expedition.

The Pune-based ABBF founder and one of the blind climbers, Divyanshu Ganatra, said that “exclusion is something that persons with disability routinely encounter and with disability, in India, comes ‘invisibility'”, but the real challenge is to understand despite the differences.

“Mountains and nature or outdoors don’t differentiate between anyone, so why is it that we discriminate among people? I believe that to change something, you have to change yourself,” said Subramanian.

Besides Ganatra and Subramanian, the 13-member group included filmmakers Sehran Mohsin and Omkar Potdar, mountain guide Karn Kowshik, IT consultant Prasad Gurav, German teacher Omana Kale, Israelis Uri Basha, Sophie Donio and her 14-year old son Baepi, adventure sports enthusiast Vaishak J.P., motivational speaker Nupur Pittie and consultant Adi Raheja.

The ABBF is said to be the only NGO in the country working with cross-disabilities by providing more opportunities to disabled persons with adaptive adventure and sports activities, marathons, tandem cycling, scuba-diving, paragliding and mountaineering.

S4H, co-founded by Subramanian and Guneet Puri in 2013 with the aim to rehabilitate the flood-ravaged people of Uttarakhand, has supported other causes like Kashmir floods, Nepal earthquake and since last year the disabled persons especially from the economically weaker income groups.

Continue Reading


Delhi airport gets top honour at ASQ Awards 2017



Indira Gandhi International Airport

New Delhi, Sep 17 : The national capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has bagged the title of Best Airport to handle over 40 million passengers per annum (MPPA) by the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards 2017.

The Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), a GMR-led consortium which operates and manages the IGIA, made the announcement on Monday.

Image result for indira gandhi international airport

“As we witness robust growth, we look forward to a strong collaboration and support of all airport stakeholders and our esteemed passengers. We are set to undertake the expansion works at Delhi airport in line with IGIA Master Plan-2016,” I. Prabhakara Rao, Executive Director, GMR Airports, was quoted as saying in a statement.

According to the statement, the Delhi airport is now the seventh busiest airports in Asia and among the top 20 busiest airports across the world.

ASQ is a worldwide programme to survey passengers at the airport on their day of travel. Every year the programme delivers some 600,000 individual surveys in 41 languages in 84 countries.

Continue Reading

Most Popular