Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Road Trip Back to Leh. Rizong Monastery.


Like yesterday, today was another day of destinations unknown meaning we had no clue where we were going until we got there.  Typically, I have the day's itinerary fully mapped out in my head....bit of a control freak.  So, I've had to let go a bit and in many ways, it's been fun traveling without a clue as our day is filled with surprises.  So far, they have all been good! 

We arrived into Rizong Monastery about two hours after leaving Lamayuru.  We had no idea we were coming here until Dorje told us the moment we spotted the buildings up on the hill. Seeing the buildings of the monastic complex nestled up against the side of the hill immediately evoked memories of Ganden Monastery in Tibet which I visited in 2007.  Rizong is a much smaller complex.

We turned off the Srinagar-Leh highway onto a narrow road.  We had barely left the highway when we passed a young monk who was obviously making his way up to the monastery.  We told Dorje to stop the car so we could give the monk a ride.  We've only been with Dorje a little over a day but even in that short time, we've come to realize that he is devout Buddhist.  While he would not have stopped the car on his own....because he has tourists in tow, he was more than happy to do so when we asked him.  After all, we had plenty of space in the car for one more person.  As we continued our way to Rizong, I realized it would have easily been an hour's walk for the monk.

Here's a video of us approached Rizong which I actually shot on our way back from our next destination.  I wish I had filmed a bit longer but was too eager to get out and take the photo.



As we have come to know, Dorje parks the car and waves us off the general direction that we're suppose to go in.



Rizong Monastery special significance for Tibetan Buddhists as it is believed that Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava, the *Second Buddha* of Tibetan Buddhism meditated in the caves around the location that the monastery was eventually built in. The monastery was founded by Lama Tsultim Nima in 1831.  As has been the case with the monasteries we visited yesterday, there was not a monk in sight at Rizong.  I'm guessing that they are all probably inside attending to their daily prayers and studies.

Without a map or signs to show us around, we just wandered where ever the path led us to.





Rizong is not short of amazing views of the surrounding landscape.  On a picture perfect summer's day like today, I can see why the monks enjoy living here.  Winter would be another story.


We did some photo ops. It wasn't hard convincing her to pose for pictures which such a spectacular backdrop!


We checked out every nook and cranny.  We started with this small temple on the ground floor and then went upstairs to the next one.


In Tibetan Buddhism, there are many ritual implements and instruments.  Those held in the left hand relate to wisdom, the realization of the emptiness of all phenomena, and those held in the right hand relate to skillful means, or compassion.

The bell and dorje are two of these implements. The dorje, (on the left in the photo below) is held in the right hand.  The bell (on the right in the photo below) is held in the left hand. Together these ritual implements represent the inseparability of wisdom and compassion in the enlightened mindstream.



Buddhist prayer books.



In Tibetan Buddhism, wrathful deities are enlightened beings who take on wrathful forms in order to lead sentient beings to enlightenment.  Odd to think that an evil creature to turn you towards all that is good rather than sucking you into the dark world.


From one temple to the next.  It doesn't long for one temple to look like another.  They quickly become a blur.  I guess the same thing happens when you go to see churches.  After a few, you can't remember which is which.









Back outside, we just continued to explore the place, sticking mainly to paths that look like they would lead to somewhere that did not end in a locked door.  Every now and again, one of us would check out an alley just in case it would lead to something interesting.


We peeked everywhere.  There was a small glassed in room.  Inside were giant brass (?) oil lamps.  Chantale's trying to get a photo of one of them.....the determined photog!






In just under an hour, we had come full circle.  It was time to meet back up with Dorje and continue our road trip.   Next destination unknown??