We drove from Hemis back on the same road.
It was the most beautiful drive of my life.
We drove by the Sindhu River that flowed in a canal for quite a distance. I cannot say I had my fill but did look at it all the time, as if looking for something. I wished I could get down and touch the water. I told my driver about this and he assured me he would take me to a place where my wish would be granted. This man was very cooperative, stopping wherever I asked him to, sometimes driving back and forth, allowing me to take as many pictures as I wanted.
(I was very very hungry. We entered this restaurant and had lunch – banana pancake, aloo parantha, both of which were bad.)
We then proceeded towards the monastery...
The following has been said of the Thikse monastery
“Rarely, aesthetically has man so improved on nature. The hill over which Thikse gompa sprawls was a near perfect pyramid before the monastery came up, striking in proportions but not attracting a second look. With the lamasery on it, however, the hill seems dressed to kill. There is no gompa in Ladhak quite as stunning or picturesque as Thikse.
Thikse belongs to the Gelugpa order, the most dominant of the four Tibetain Buddhist schools and of which dalai Lama is the pope. There are some 120 lamas residing in the onastery besides 40 odd novices.
The monastery was founded in 1480 by Palden Shesrab Zangpo."
As you enter the monastery courtyard, you face a towering façade of deep yellow and maroon.
Straight ahead, up a flight of steps is the dukhang (the main assembly hall)
When I entered, the assembly was in progress. There were 40 or more lamas and the tourists mostly foreigners. The lamas were chanting the hymns aloud. I could understand nothing of it but it sounded very funny.
As you go further inside, you enter a door that leads to an adjoining rear chapel. Inside, you find a series of statues Sakyamuni Buddha, Manjushri (the bodhisattva of wisdom) to his right Maitreya on his left. Further to the left are Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) and Tsongkhapa.
You come out of the Dukhang, descend the stairs and climb another flight of stairs diametrically opposite.
This will lead you to the Chamkhang, housing Thikse’s greatest attraction, the immense and beautiful gilded Maitreya.
The 40 feet high statue of the future Buddha (Maitreya), made of clay and painted with gold, dominates the chamber. It was completed only in 1980 with the Dalai Lama consecrating the temple. You enter the temple at the upper floor and are level with the shoulder of the statue, which rises from the ground floor, usually kept closed. Peering down, you will see Maitreya sitting cross legged in lotus position, an unusual posture since he is normally depicted as sitting on a chair.
This statue was created by Ladhak’s greatest contemporary sculptor, Nawang Tsering.
You come out of the chamber to enter this one. I think this is called Dolma Lhakhang, a small shrine on the left with 21 gilded images of Tara; a large central figure of the female deity flanked by 10 smaller versions of her on each side.
There are several other images in this shrine including Avalokiteshwara and Tsongkhapa.
I missed the Gonkhang – the shrine of the fierce protector deities.
From such an elevated position, the view is breathtaking. Panoramic, varied, vast, stretching to eternity and incredibly still.
As you descend down….