After Thikse Gompa, we continued our “monastic journey” in the Indus Valley. Next we came to Chemrey, another monastery erected atop a rocky mount in a picturesque setting. Built in 1664, Chemrey Gompa belongs to the Drukpa Lineage (Red Hat Sect) of Tibetan Buddhism. We were the only visitors at the monastery. We wandered around the complex for a bit, reached the top level and saw an entrance door with a sign that said “museum”. Prayers could be heard from inside. A little lama aged about ten sat by the door stared at us curiously. We removed our shoes at the entrance and entered the small museum. Inside, there was another lama, probably in his twenties, reading out loud from a book of Buddhist prayers. The prayer that led us to the museum probably came from him. He stopped and greeted us, and sold us admission tickets for the museum. Although small, the museum contained a decent collection of Buddhist artifacts such as thangka, musical instruments, ceremonial items, ropes, etc. After the museum visit, we looked down to the courtyard below the museum and saw a lama sweeping the floor. Stood beside him was the little lama whom we met at the museum. He waved and signaled us to follow him and we did. He unlocked the door at one end of the courtyard and invited us to enter a dukhang (assembly hall). The hall covered with fine timber flooring was richly decorated with murals and statues. We took our time to check out the murals, while the little lama curiously kept an eye on us. The little lama was a delightful child. He grinned and giggled all the time and always turned his head to peek at us as we followed him from behind. We tried to communicate with him in simple English and hand gestures. Next he led us to a prayer hall. At the window, he pointed down towards a school complex downhill that he attended. We had a good time following the little lama around Chemrey. His curious looks and innocent giggles left us fond memories of Chemrey.
Next we arrived at another lamasery about 46km east of Leh. Founded in the 16 century, Takthok Monastery is the only Nyingma monastery (the oldest school of Red Hat Sect Tibetan Buddhism) in Ladakh. Takthok contains two parts, the old and the new. Our driver dropped us off at the new part, where we walked down a stepped pathway trying to find our way into the buildings. Unfortunately all buildings we passed by were locked. We then walked to the old part of Takthok. Our driver was also there and he led us into a number of dark temple rooms against a rock cliff that resembled natural caves. Much of the ceiling and wall murals were darken by centuries of candle smoke. Other than murals, ancient scriptures were kept inside the prayer halls, on old wooden shelves by the altar. They looked old and fragile. Before we left Takthok, we went in to a new and richly decorated assembly hall with rows of seating. No one was in the hall. On the low prayer tables, there were musical and ceremonial instruments. At the centre of the room we noticed an alcohol like odour coming from a bottle that seemed belonged to certain rituals. It was already midday when we finished touring Takthok. Then our next stop was Hemis Gompa, the largest monastery in Ladakh.
When we arrived at Chemrey Gompa, we saw a little lama stood by a lookout who would later become our private guide at monastery.
After we went through the monastery gate, we arrived at a small courtyard with prayer wheels and typical whitewash walls and vividly decorated shading device.
At the top level of the monastery we arrived at the small museum.
The courtyard below the museum, where the older lama was swiping the floor in front of the prayer candles.
Inside the assembly hall, we could find several well preserved statues.
The assembly hall was colourful and richly decorated.
Our guide, the little lama, stood in front of a window.
Our delightful local guide of the monastery.
A unique structure at another courtyard was erected to serve as a source of natural light for the prayer hall below.
The fields were lush green down at the Indus River Valley.
We bid farewell to the little lama and exited Chemrey through the entry gateway.
We passed through a covered walkway of prayer wheels near the monastery entrance.
The magnificent view of Chemrey Gompa was behind us as we left for our next destination.
At Takthok we followed our driver into the old prayer halls.
Many murals at Takthok were not in good conditions.
One of the cave-like prayer hall filled with statues and ancient scriptures.
Main courtyard of Takthok against the rock cliff.
The stair leading up to one of the cave-like prayer hall.
Brass trumpets on table in a new assembly hall.
The new assembly hall at Takthok.
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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