Monk-ey Business

If you enjoy a clockwise twirl (I think the technical word is “circumambulation”) around a Buddhist monastery, make a beeline for the town of Leh. This former capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, is awash in gompas and stupas and potbellied fellows in saffron- and tumeric-coloured robes. You’ll be om-mani-padme-humming in no time.

Here are some photos and a video from my hike up to Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, perched on a dusty crag above Leh. There’s a ruined fort up there, too (hence the “Castle” sign in the first photo). Great atmosphere, astonishing views, interesting monastic knickknacks – well worth the lung-busting climb. And for 20 rupees (30 Aussie cents), it’s a bargain. (The group of dreadlocked backpackers who arrived just after me and glared at the monk like he was a used car salesman when they heard the entry fee would probably disagree. How’s the karma going, fellas?)

Scrambling up the scree to Tsemo fort and monastery

One side of the monastery with the Zanskar mountains in the background

Cough up!

Precarious circumambulation

The drop

Prayer mat with a view

Prayer flags (Italian style)

View to the northern part of the town of Leh

The monastery proved a cool retreat from the Ladakh heat

Intense light

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