DAY 2: NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh, India
After a good sleep through the night, the next morning we started the day at somewhere high again. Perched above the Leh Palace, the small Namgyal Tsemo Gompa (lamasery) offered us a slightly higher perspective of the city than the lookout at Leh Palace, and our first encounter of Tibetan Buddhism. Too lazy to walk up, we hired a taxi to take us there. It was a fine morning and hardly anyone was around at the lamasery except us. Although the staff was not around, we were lucky to find that the door of the main hall was kept unlocked.
Founded in the 15th century, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa was two hundred years older than the Leh Palace. Featuring beautiful paintings in the interior, inside the main hall stood a 3-storey tall Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the Future) painted in gold. In another worship hall decorated with ancient wall paintings, we saw a number of statues and offering tables. Many statues had their faces concealed under colourful cloths. Their faces would be covered until the next major ceremonies took place.
Above Namgyal Tsemo Gompa stood Tsemo (Victory) Fort, a monumental whitewashed building overlooking Leh. We climbed the stair up only to find that the fort was locked. Three young tourists were sitting on the stair, chatting about traveling and their onward journey to the Nubra Valley. After exchanging some causal greetings with them, we slowing headed back down to the entrance parking lot.
High up on the rocky hills, the red bricked Namgyal Tsemo Gompa (lower left) and the white washed Tsemo Fort are visible from almost anywhere in Leh.
We thought we were the only visitors at the lamasery when we arrived.
The entrance terrace offered a wonderful panoramic view of Leh.
Beyond the city stood another well-known lookout at Shanti Stupa (white monument at the centre of the photo).
Distant view of Leh and the Stok Mountains.
Inside one of the main halls were vivid wall paintings depicting Buddhist stories.
The face of the 8m Maitreya Buddha was covered in gold.
Entrance to the second worship hall.
Without recent restoration or repaint, the wall murals at the second main hall looked more ancient.
Offering tables and statues at the second worship hall.
The white Tsemo Fort above the lamasery.
The green Indus River valley was always visible.
Leh and the background Stok Mountains.
Prayer flags at Tsemo Fort.
Our friendly driver and his taxi. This kind of hired vehicle is suitable to go around Leh and nearby monasteries. For further destinations that involve extended traveling on mountain roads, 4×4 vehicles will be a more sensible choice.
Taxi heading back down to the city of Leh.
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Other posts on 2016 Ladkadh & Delhi:
Introduction – LADAKH – The Land of High Passes, India
Day 1.1 – ENROUTE TO LEH, Ladakh
Day 1.2 – WALK TO MAIN BAZAAR, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.3 – LEH PALACE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 1.4 – HOTEL LADAKH GREENS, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.1 – NAMGYAL TSEMO GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.2 – LALA’S CAFE AND TIBETAN CUISINE, Leh, Ladakh
Day 2.3 – SPITUK GOMPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 3.1 – MONASTERIES OF THE INDUS VALLEY DAY ONE, Ladakh (with map)
Day 3.2 – THIKSEY GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.3 – CHEMREY & TAKTHOK GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.4 – HEMIS & STAKNA GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 3.5 – MATHO GOMPA & SHEY PALACE, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.1 – ON THE ROAD WEST OF LEH, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.2 – LAMAYURU GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.3 – ALCHI & LIKIR GOMPA, Indus Valley, Ladakh
Day 4.4 – FORT ROAD IN THE EVENING, Leh, Ladakh
Day 5.1 – SHORT HIKE NEAR PHYANG, Ladakh
Day 5.2 – PHYANG VILLAGE, Ladakh
Day 5.3 – NOMADIC WOOLLEN MILLS & BON APPETIT, Leh, Ladakh
Day 6.1 – ZINGCHEN GORGE, Ladakh
Day 6.2 – SHANTI STUPA, Leh, Ladakh
Day 7.1 – LEH AIRPORT TO RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.2 – RED FORT, Delhi
Day 7.3 – JAMA MASJID, Delhi
Day 7.4 – FAREWELL OLD DELHI, Delhi
Day 7.5 – UNITED COFFEE HOUSE, New Delhi