And so we continue…
When I first heard the name Diskit, I was a bit confused until I realized it was the name of a village and not a tongue-twister biscuit. Then I wondered what Diskit meant. This village, located in the periphery of the desert in the Shok Valley, shares its name with that of the 350-year-old monastery within the village. This was our day to explore some parts of the Nubra valley, especially Diskit and look around this magnificent monastery and more.
Diskit Village is an administrative center of the Nubra Valley, comprising of various government offices in it. The village is located at a height of 10,310 feet above sea level and witnesses tourists both in winters as well as summers. We had a bit of a late start, taking it easy after all the driving yesterday, so it was only by late morning that we reached the oldest and largest monastery in Nubra, which was situated at an altitude of 3142 metres. We drove there, after which we walked our way along the walls and the chortens. The monastery has a statue of Cho Rinpoche (Crowned Buddha) in the prayer hall, a huge drum and several images of fierce guardian deities. The Monastery administration runs a school, with support from a Non-Government Organization (NGO) known as the “Tibet Support Group”, which has computer facilities and teaches science subjects, in English, to Tibetan children of the region. The popular festival of Dosmoche or the “Festival of the Scapegoat” is held in the precincts of the monastery in February during the winter season, which is attended by people from the villages of the Nubra Valley (credits: Wikipidea). The lovely, milky white Diskit monastery accentuated the valley by its mere presence and rich heritage. Each morning, summer or winter, the villages surrounding the monastery wake up to hundreds of monks chanting their daily prayers. The energy generated by such a session was one that had to be experienced to be believed. And thus it was decided that the following morning would being the only opportunity we had, we would all join these monks during the early morning prayers. It was nearing lunchtime, so there would be no prayers but we decided to spend a few peaceful moments by ourselves in the interior of this magnanimous white beauty.
The Diskit monastery is said to house not just drums, paintings and Tibetan colored-patterned silk, but also the Maitreya Buddha statue. Our next stop was therefore the impressive 106 feet long statue of the Jampa (Maitreya) Buddha facing the Shyok River towards Pakistan, on top of a hill below the monastery. The statue’s construction was started in April 2006 and it was consecrated by H.H. the Dalai Lama on 25 July 2010. The statue was built with three main functions in mind – protection of Diskit Village, prevention of further war with Pakistan, and to promote world peace (Credits: Wikipidea). When I sat at the foot of the Buddha Statue and looked up, the view was comforting yet overwhelming. Comforting, because the golden face of the statue seemed to be looking in my direction, yet overlooking Nubra. The colours used in the statue were particularly striking especially as they shone against the combination of the cool breeze and attention-seeking sun. Overwhelming, because when I looked ahead with my back facing the Buddha, I could see the white Diskit monastery perched on the brown hill ahead. So I could see the white monastery with a brown background and suddenly, behind this was the white snow-capped mountains. A sight to behold.
It was bit late, but we were ravenous and treated ourselves to the local delicacies. Immediately thereafter, we were on our way to Sumur village set in the heart of Nubra Valley around the Samstemling Gompa. Sumur has lovely green and yellow mustard fields, and cobblestone pathways. I remember feeling like I was in a scene from one of the popular Yash Chopra movies, that showed the green fields and white Mountains, and suddenly from nowhere would appear yellow mustards. Everything was right there –in that one tiny, lesser-known village of Sumur. The Gompa houses around 100 lamas and is known was its elaborate, colourful frescos and thankas – Tibetan silk paintings with embroidered borders, usually depicting a mandala, or Buddhist deities. The inner sanctum was extremely colorful and peaceful like most monasteries, but the big difference from Diskit monastery were the golden, orange, red and white colours that adorned the interiors and exteriors of the Gompa.
Our next and final and much awaited stop was Panamik. This village is at the northern most part of the country up to which travellers are allowed to travel in India. At 10500 feet above sea level, Panamik is located very close to Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world. It has a high content of sulphur and therefore rightly known for the hot water sulphur springs. A bath in these springs is said to be ideal for general rejuvenation, in addition to being a cure for a number of ailments. Locals from neighbouring villages often visit Panamik to take a quick dip in the waters. There were changing rooms and showers and we definitely had no intent to miss this fabulous opportunity. We lazed and relaxed for the next 60 minutes and got speaking to a few foreign travellers who shared their experience in this valley. It was evident that they were in love with this side of the view of the Himalayas and told us about their trek to Ensa monastery, a 250-year-old Gompa known for its Buddhist murals. The trek took them about three to four hours along boulders strewn in the bed of the river, leading to willows and poplar trees.
The weeping willows along Dal lake was on my mind now. I knew that the people around me were speaking – maybe to me, maybe amongst themselves. There was laughter, a faint melodious music from someone’s portable system and the sky was changing colours. I was allowing the sulphur in the water to massage my body, but my mind felt light and calm. I could have just wished at that moment to stay like this forever – a bit of water, a bit of the mountain, a bit of the air and a lot of the happy voices of happy people in a happy world.
To be continued…
PEN NAME : PENDULUM