Saturday, July 27, 2013

Visiting Shey & Stok Palace/Monastery

Ladakh – the moonland of Monasteries
(Visiting Shey  & Stok Palace/Monastery)

After having spent about two hours exploring Thiksey, as narrated in my earlier blog, we headed for Shey Palace and it hardly took 10 minutes to reach the spot from Thiksey.  Shey Place  is also on Leh Manali road , located near the Thikse monastery on a hillock about 15 kms from Leh.  Although one reaches Shey Palace before reaching Thiksey Monastery, yet tourists prefer to visit the Monastery, before visiting Shey Palace.  It had started drizzling and since one has to trek up from the base and we were not carrying any Umbrellas, my wife & daughter preferred to stay back.  Rushing up the road and the stairs made me huff and puff, due to the low oxygen content in the air.  While traversing from Thiksey to Shey, we came across a large number of rock carvings, stupas and monasteries are on this road, it has also the biggest Chorten field with hundreds of various size of shrines scattered across the desert landscape. As per recorded history, Shey Palace and Gompa complex was built in around 1650 AD by the King Deldon Namgyal, who used it as a summer retreat and was used as same by the succeeding kings of Ladakh, however, after being abandoned, most parts of it is in ruins now.  The present day Shey Palace is more visited for the Monastery housed inside its precincts, which was built in the memory of his father Singay Namgyal by King Deldon Namgayal.  It is famous for the giant statue of Shakyamuni Budha, the second largest such statute in Ladakh, which is made of Copper with Gold plated.  Dogras of Jammu, who had invaded Leh in 1834, forced the Namgyal King to abandon the Shey Palace and shift to the Stok Palace, built across the Indus River, as their permanent residence.

Panoramic view of Shey Palace

The Bill Board on way to Shey Palace

The Chortens seen from Shey Palace
The famed Buddha statute inside Shey Monastery

The wall paintings inside Shey Monastery

The close-up of the eyes of Buddha in Shey Palace Monastery

The lamp in Shey Monastery
 On our way back  from Shey, we visited the Drukpa White Lotus School run by the Drukpa Trust, which is locally as known as the ‘Druk Padma Karpo School’ (‘Padma Karpo’ means ‘White Lotus’ in Bothi) and is named after Mipham Pema Karpo (1527-1592), who is revered as a great scholar.  This school has acquired fame all over India, because of the blockbuster ‘Three Idiots’ movie starring Amir Khan et al, the last part of the movie had been filmed in its precincts and has now become tourist spot of sorts.  Despite my resistance, my kids and wife were adamant to visit the School premises and I had to trudge along, although I did not go inside the School premises, as I feel that it is an unnecessary intrusion and disturbance for the students in the classrooms.
The reception & introduction at Dukpa White Lotus School 

The school building of Drukpa White Lotus School

Visiting Stok Palace
Situated at a distance of 15 Kms. south of Leh, across the Indus/Sindhu River, on the West bank of the River, is the Stok Palace i.e. the Royal residence of the erstwhile Rules of Ladakh and their successors now.  This Royal Palace was built in 1825 AD by King Tsespal Tondup Namgyal, after the invading Dogra forces from Jammu had deposed the King of Ladakh and he was forced to shift his base here from Shey Palace.  The building is an awe inspiring monument housing about 80 odd rooms spread across several storey. The palace is reachable by jeeps or through shared taxis and has an entry fee of Rs.50/- per person.  The Royal Palace Museum is worth visiting and showcases the royal thangkas, King’s crown, battle dresses, coins of bygone era, peraks encrusted with turquoise and lapis lazuri alongwith religious objects & statutes all housed separately.  One of the room’s even houses the utensils etc. that were used by the Royalty during the past.  However, nothing can be shared with readers as photography is strictly prohibited.
Panoramic view of Stok Palace
Panoramic view of Leh Valley from Stok Palace
 Spituk Monastery is a nearby attraction which can be visited too, but as I had return back to Hotel, with context to the evening visit scheduled for watching the closing events of the ‘Sindhu Festival’ or as it is now known as ‘The Shinghey Khababs Festival’, I did not visit this Monastery.
Panoramic view of Spituk Monastery

Here is the video for the destination -

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