Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Ladakh - Day 3 - Shey
After Thikse, it was Shey.
Shey is an ancient capital of Ladhak with now a ruined castle and a gompa enshrining a giant sitting Buddha.
The castle is reached by a path that zigzags up the crag from the road, reaching the entrance porch.
As I climbed the rugged path, I looked back to these views.
A row of chortens (stupas), some freshly painted, some dilapidated, stand on the far side of the slope, beyond the derelict palace.
Facing the palace, is 180 degrees of superb scenery, that looks gorgeous from that height.
A lake surrounded by lush fields lies in front of the hill, beyond the road. The lake is artificial and was probably dug when the castle was built. While the castle is less than 400 years old, Shey was ladakh’s capital as far back as the 10th century.
A huge Stupa with a gilded finial.
As you enter the temple you see a giant, faintly smiling Sakyamuni Buddha. It’s a colossal sitting Buddha, copper gilt on clay (supposed to be disappointing artistically). It’s 8 meter or 26 feet high. It was built by Nepalese artists aided by goldsmiths from the village of Chilling, long the metalworking capital of Ladakh.
As in Thikse, you are level with the shoulders of the Buddha on the upper floor; the statue rises from the ground floor. The walls of the upper floor containing some great paintings are blackened and faded. The two statues at the back of the temple are of the buddha’s disciples Sariputra and Mogallana.
In front of the Buddha statue, are 2 glass cases enclosing female protector deities Chakpa Maylen (red) and Palden Lhamo (on a horse).
The portion of the terrace behind the temple …
There are superb views of the Indus valley from the terrace outside.
Near a bend on the road notice the bas relief of five Buddha figures on a rock face. The engravings date back to at least 11th – 12th century, for the carvings are of the five Dhyani buddhas with Vairochana in the middle, a theme then greatly prevalent.