Images of Ladakh
Ladakh creates images of light and shadow. And of stark remote barren icelands. Additionally, a sense of adventure and romance. Certainly, magic and mysticism. Perhaps the images of Ladakh are as surreal as the landscapes. Therefore they remain in the recesses of our minds long after the journey is completed.
Across the Kashmir Valley and over the famous Zoji La pass lies Ladakh – the Land of High Passes. Because it is completely different from the green landscape of many other parts of the Himalayas, there is a sense of novelty. Moreover, It is nature at an extreme. Ladakh is a cold desert lying in the rain shadow of the Great Himalayas and other smaller ranges. Therefore, little rain and snow reaches this dry area, where natural forces have created a fantastic landscape. So it is a land of freezing winds and burning hot sunlight.
Worship is part of everyday living
Ladakh creates indelible images of an inexplicable divinity. Possibly because of the monasteries, gompas, stupas, chortens, prayer wheels. And Lamas in shades of ochre, saffron, maroon like the images of the setting sun in Ladakh.
The road that enters and leaves each village is through a “chorten” gate. And crowning the chief hill in any village, as its position would suggest, is a monastery. And then the houses are clustered above the area of cultivated terraces at the foothills. They are approached by stony paths or tracks. Because the houses are built into the hillside, convenient pieces of rocks often serve as walls or floors. Often rock overhangs are used as roofs. And a sunny platform will be enclosed with rough walls to stable animals by day in winter.
In the bigger houses, one room is dedicated as a little private chapel. And this is used mainly by the master of the house for reading his holy books and saying his prayers. If a whole room cannot be set aside, a small corner in the best room will be arranged as an altar.