The most ancient monastery in Ladakh, Lamayuru is located on the Srinagar – Leh highway, 15 kilometers east of Fotu-La, in the Leh district. The monastery is said to be founded sometime around 956-1041 CE, by Mahasiddha Naropa. Located on a hill top, like most monasteries, Lamayuru Gompa is an introduction to the sites that Ladakh has to offer.
Found in and around every monastery in Ladakh, prayers wheels are said to be a physical manifestation of the phrase “turning the wheel of Dharma”. Most wheels have the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” written on the outside.
These stone inscriptions can be found all around the monastery. They have been inscribed with mantras written in Tibetan.
Known as ‘Moon land’, this specific land formation is found in Lamayuru, and is quite clearly visible from the monastery.
The monastery originally consisted of five main buildings, with the remains of four of these buildings still being visible.
The beauty of this monastery lies in its structures that have stood the test of time, even after enduring several invasions. The colours of this quaint structures add to the richness of its already picturesque surroundings.
Old women can usually be spotted walking around the monastery with individual prayer wheels in their hands, quietly chanting; they are however, always ready, quite unabashedly to ask the visiting travellers for ‘bakshish’ or donations.
These women usually do so in return for a picture of them. This one in particular, posed rather kindly for a picture, without asking for any bakshish.
The cold and dry desert climate has made the texture of their skin rather rugged, making these women appear much older than they might be. However, their aged faces make them great subjects for those interested in portrait photography.
You will be able to find male monks going about their routines, in and around the monastery. They are quite friendly, and are always up for a chat and a picture.