V iskanju bude… in v cakanju na treking

img_0228On my itinerary today was a short excursion towards the west (on the road towards Srinagar) – along the Indus up to Alchi monastery …

The village of Alchi in lower Ladakh is to be considered one of the most important cultural sites throughout the Himalayas. Consisting of four separate hamlets, the village contains numerous historic monuments of different ages and in various states of repair, the oldest and most famous of which is a monastic complex. It is this complex, which accommodates some of the most fascinating Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas…

Traditionally the foundation of Alchi Monastery is attributed to the great translator Rinchen Zangpo (Rin-chen-bzang-po; 958-1055) and this complex is from the second “spreading” of the buddishm in 11th century. However, the oldest monuments preserved are to be dated to the period from the middle of the 12th century to c. 1225. Alchi contains three temples and two chörten attributable to the earliest phase of the complex; the Main Temple, the Three-Storeyed Temple or Sumtseg, the Manjushri Temple, the Great Chörten and the Small Chörten. OK, i don’t want to go into detail with descriptions, but its interesting why this monastery survived. Actually, that is one and only monastery from that period that survived… So… it was easy… it is in a valley, beside unpassable canyon of the Indus river, far away from trading routes. I guess all the conquerers forgot about that monastery…

Monastery is interesting, however… monks that work there. You get the impression that the only thing they know is how to collect the money. Basically, they know very little about the history or the details of the monastery. Ok, let it be, as they sit there for the last 10 centuries and they are slightly bored. And they close at certain hour for lunch. So, we went to a restaurant adjacent to the monastery (there was also a tended camp, interesting with nice views). Funnily… monks that few minutes ago were collecting entrance money are now acting as waiters… :)))

The monastery is approximately 50km away from Leh. Of course, in Ladakh that does not mean half an hour of drive, especially if average driving speed is around 25 km per hour… Road is interesting. You get everything. From wide paved roads to narrow gravel roads with some signs of pavement. I guess driving in a road like this can be very tiring… even for passengers its tiring and dusty.. Its good that we will go trekking towards the Manali, as two days on such road… And you get get a range of different vehicles… from battered old trucks to royal enfields… (driven mainly by tourists).

For the end of the acclimatisation and before the trekking. We are acclimatised. I have no problems. Leh is nice, especially non-touristic part and market. Food is excellent and there is a variety of choice – beside indian you can get also kashmiri and tibetan food – not to mention italian or israeli. Views all around are fantastic. Main things for our trekking are bought, food will be vegetarian. For 8 people there will 8 people and 15 horses to take care about us. OK, lots of people, and thats not very environmentally sustainable, but better than driving with cars. Tommorow we will see the last village for almost a week. 🙂 Of course, there won’t be any internet any more. As regards to the mobile phone, there is no signal here in Leh – ok, there is signal, but cannot connect. As Ladakh is very sensitive zone (India still has some disputes with Pakistan and China towards Kashmeer and Ladakh) it is probably some kind of security or military issue…

Anyway… life at 3500m of altitude is good 🙂