Picture taken from “Calvary” Mount Saint Bernard Monastery, England
The extreme and mountainous terrain of Ladakh means that its road network is limited.
Like most visitors, we were based in Leh, and had to return there after every excursion into the wilder reaches of region.
And so, after our journey to the Nubra valley, we had to return to and re-climb the Khardung Pass.
Like all the Tibetan monasteries of Ladakh, it is built high on a hill-top:
a reflection not just of religious allegory, but a practical requirement in past centuries, when these communities were also seats of political power and strategic military bases.
Our first glimpse of Lamayuru provided, perhaps, the most arresting vista of all the Ladakh monasteries we visited:
one that made us very keen to explore.
But strangely, it lacked that intensity of “presence” which seeped from every aspect of the Likir community we experienced the same morning.
Despite its beauty, I felt slightly estranged from Lamayuru: kept at a distance:
I ask myself what might account for the difference, but find no logical answers.
We had been the only strangers in Likir, whilst there were two or three other tourists here in Lamayuru.
But they, like us, observed with quiet respect, careful not to disturb the silence.
And later, though our path would once more cross that of another European in a different monastery, it proved no barrier to sensing great sanctity..
Pictures taken in Lamayuru, Ladakh
The departure lounge, Cochin airport.
Picture taken in the grounds of Kopua Monastery, New Zealand
An offer of tea is difficult to refuse,
Even when a little climbing is involved.
Pictures taken in Gangtok, Sikkim.
The light appears almost beyond reach..
But one final climb calls…
Translation of the final of Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs”
“Im Abendrot” (“At sunset”)
(Text: Joseph von Eichendorff)
We have gone through sorrow and joy hand in hand;
Now we can rest from our wandering above the quiet land.
Around us, the valleys fall away; the air is growing darker.
Just two skylarks soar upwards dreamily into the fragrant air.
Come close to me, and let them flutter.
Soon it will be time for sleep.
Let us not lose our way in this solitude.
O vast, tranquil peace, so deep at sunset!
How weary we are of wandering—
Is this perhaps death?
(Pictures taken in the Holy Land. October 2010.)