Dadu Aur Madak

Leh is perhaps the most popular destination in all of India for foreign visitors who want to do treks in the Himalaya. It is also a popular spot to rent Enfield cycles for those who don't want the hassle of driving from Delhi to the mountains. The town is full of travel agencies offering package deals of all varieties, and it is a great place to hire cars and drivers for day trips to gompas, or rides to various trailheads. Swolen with tourists from all over Europe (we have yet to run across any other Americans), the town offers everything from German bakeries to pizza and lasagna. With a wide range of knock-offs from nearby China, it is also the place to top up your supply of all types of camping or hiking gear. There are scores of gompas within a day's ride of town. We chose a popular circuit that included Thiksey and Shey, as well as the summer palace at Stok, all of which could be visited in one day.

Thiksey is one of the more spectacular gompas we visited. We were advised to come early to witness the morning services.

From the moment you pass through the gate you encounter a scene that is rich in detail. At right is part of the courtyard.

The young novices perform much of the manual labor. Here they carry water for tea that they will serve to the monks at morning service.
At right they rested long enough for us to take this photo.

We climbed to the roof to see the call to prayer, and the view of snow capped peaks in the distance and the Indus Valley. The monks announce services by blowing a Tibetan horn consisting of a conch shell that is adorned with a brass extension.

The countryside between Thiksey and Shey is dotted with these chortens. Chortens or stupas are said to contain relics of The Buddha.

Shey is yet another spectacular gompa whoose main feature is a twelve meter tall statue of the Buddha. Unfortunatey the photos are somehow missing.

Stok is the summer palace of the Kings of Ladakh. It has an ineresting museum showing ancient royal garments and accessories. Photography inside is prohibited. Above is a view from the terrace towards the grounds below.