Monday, June 26, 2017

On The Road to Lamayuru. Basgo Monastery.


Leaving Phyang Monastery behind, we continued our road trip.  At this point, I realize that the itinerary that I had gotten from Stanzin was not as detailed as I ordinarily would expect to receive.  Lucky for him, I am a go with the flow kind of girl who has a very open mind about travel.  Whatever place we were going to next was in the hands of Dorje, our driver.  Even if he had told me the name of the place, I would not have had a clue about what it was as I only researched the main destination points so I knew about Lamayuru but nothing between Leh and Lamayuru. 


I also didn't realize how much military presence there is in Ladakh or at least in the Leh to Lamayuru part of Ladakh.  We encountered one military base after another.  At times, it was non stop....as if we were passing through an entire city of military bases.  I keep forgetting that we are in a part of India that sees periodic conflict.  Hopefully, it will all be peaceful while we are here. 

The further we got away from Leh, the more arid the landscape got.  Rocks began to dominate our view and at times it was a dusty ride.  It was too nice a day not to be driving with the windows rolled down.  Chantale came prepared with face masks so she wouldn't be sucking in the dust.  I had no mask.


At one point Dorje stopped the car and we got out to see a muddy river flowing by.  That's the Indus River which is the main river that runs through this part of Ladakh.  Not very pretty.....the river that is.




Every now and again, we would see patches of green.  Fields of vegetables.  I took the sight of green as signs that we were nearing a village.  Our ride was turning out to be military bases and villages surrounded by mountains.  Oh....and lots and lots of stupas.  Ladakh is undeniably the land of stupas.  I've never seen so many in my entire life!







I also realized that the moment that Dorje veers off the main road, it means we're getting near to our destination.  The painted stupas were another sign we were approaching a monastery but I didn't see one....at least what I saw didn't look like your typical Tibetan Buddhist monastery.




The prayer flags were another clue that we were near a monastery but for the life of me, I did not see one.


Dorje parked the SUV in a small lot.  There was only one other car there and parked alongside it, a motorcycle.  Wherever we were, there were not a lot of people around.  Wherever we were, there were not a lot of other people visiting.  Oddly enough, when I don't see tourists around, I wonder if the place is worth visiting or not.  Ironically, most times it is!  It means we're off the beaten path and hopefully about to see another hidden gem.


I finally saw the whitewashed walls that are indicative of Tibetan monastery architecture.  We had arrived and compared to many monasteries, this one looked small and old.  That excited me.




The road that led to the parking lot also led to the only path that headed to the monastery so naturally, we followed it.  Along the way, we crossed paths with a European man who was dressed in biker gear.  I asked him if the monastery was worth the visit and he replied that it was. Notice I always assume the person I am approaching speaks English - I never ask them beforehand 😁


It wasn't until I got up to this plaque that I finally found out where we were - Basgo Monastery.  The monastery was built in the late 17th century and is situated on top of the hill towering over the ruins of an ancient town.


The monastery complex is comprised of three temples,  Chamchung, Chamba Lakhang, and Serzang, that are all dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha aka the future Buddha.


Basgo was such a contrast from Phyang where buildings were being constructed.  Here, it looked like buildings were in ruins.  I had to wonder what we were in for.


There was literally no one but the four of us around.  Not another tourist, not even a monk.  There were no signs pointing the way or telling us what was what so we just took the obvious path and walked.  This really is not a place that sees many tourists and is indeed a hidden gem!  Here are the photos I took as we made our way around the complex.



















Basgo is notable for its murals and Buddha statues.  We stepped inside whatever temple had an open door to see what was there.  I think, based on doing some Googling, that the first one we walked into was Chamchung.  There are three temples and so three Maitreya Buddhas.  I figured out that each one is displaying a different mudra so that's how you can tell which temple you're in. Smart, huh? 😁







The one thing I really liked about Basgo was its narrow paths that went up and down through the complex.  They made nice spots for taking photos.  So far,  Ayşe has not tired of posing for photos 😁




Thanks to the sign, we at least knew that we were about to enter Serzang Temple.



Shoes off.   I can't remember why she went into such a giggle fit. 😄  The two pairs of shoes that sat next to ours belonged to the only two other tourists we saw here. 



Inside Serzang was a very small room that was pretty much occupied by a very large statue of the Maitreya Buddha.  The room so small and the Buddha was so large that even with my wide angle setting on my zooms, I could barely take a photo of the statue!





Back outside, we somehow ended up on a path that basically looped us back to where we started from.  This time I found a spot to take a photo of Chantale....with her blue bug sunglasses and all. She had bought a similar pair of sunglasses with her from home but she lost them somewhere back in either Delhi or Agra so when we arrived into Leh yesterday, she bought the pair that she has on in the photo below.  She found them for sale at a small shop just across the street from the Ladakh Cafe where we had our drinks and snacks and where we first met up with Stanzin.  At Basgo, she was carrying around 2 dSLR cameras, slung across her shoulders and her cheapie GoPro camera dangling from her pant's belt loop.  Mind you, she only has two hands and a pair of eyes but carries 3 cameras. Gotta love a geeky photobug. 😁



By the time we had left Basgo behind, Dorje had long returned to the car.  He was sitting on the ground, next to another driver....presumably the man shuttling the other two tourists arounds.  Both SUVs looks similar but ours is the one on the right....without the luggage rack on top.


I took one last photo of Basgo, as we drove off.


Next destination unknown?