Saturday, July 27, 2013

Buddhist Monastery made out of mud in Tabo, Himachal Pradesh, India

1000 year old Tabo monastery
Tabo is another beautiful scenic little town located in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Tabo is located at an altitude of 3050 metres. From Chandigarh it will take you 8 hours by road (around 490 kms).It is around 45 kms from Kaza.

From my cousin Soma who went for a trip to Himachal Pradesh recently, I found that Tabo is indeed quite a special place, not only because of its scenic beauty but also because it houses a Buddhist monastery which is over a 1000 years old. But that is not what lends it the uniqueness, the fact that the monastery is made out of mud is what totally amazed me!

I found out from Wikipedia that his Holiness the Dalai Lama considers this monastery in Tabo as one of the holiest monasteries in the world.

I am sharing some pictures of the Tabo monastery. These pictures are courtesy my cousin Soma Jha.

Tabo monastery
Monastery in Tabo made out
of mud

Buddhist monastery in Tabo
Himachal Pradesh
Buddhist monastery in
Tabo, Himachal Pradesh

On the way to Kaza

Saturday, July 20, 2013

15th century Mummy in Himachal Pradesh's Geu Village

Geu Village
Did you know that a small little village in Himachal Pradesh houses a naturally preserved 550 year old Mummy?

This village is completely off the beaten track. You will not find it on the list of places to visit in Himachal Pradesh.

Geu is in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 10,000 feet, in the border of India and Tibet. Located around 350 km from Shimla, you will need to travel by road to reach Geu. It is very close to a place called Sumdo which you will pass if you are going to Tabo from Nako. Close to Sumdo there is a left turn on the highway NH 22, Geu is around 12 kms from there.

Geu has started receiving a few visitors because of a 550 year old mummy that this village houses.

The mummy is of a 45 year old lama who was meditating when the avalanche must have struck him. This mummy was found in one of the eight stupas in the village which were severely damaged after the 1975 earthquake in this region. There is no preservative used on the mummy, it is naturally preserved.The freezing weather conditions in Geu seems to be one of the many reasons for this natural mummification. Though there is a bit of a concern now since it is showing signs of deterioration. The villagers want the mummy to be preserved not only because it will it bring in many tourists, the villagers worship the lama and they would like to safeguard and preserve the mummy.

There is a new temple that is getting built for the mummy; the mummy will soon be shifted to the new temple. Hopefully, the mummy will stay well-preserved for many more centuries.

Credit for these photos and information goes to my cousin, Soma Jha, who went for a trip to Himachal Pradesh recently and happened to visit Geu.
close up of the mummy

Bharals or Blue sheeps near Geu


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Random pictures of birds and reptiles near Pune

Lonavla, Pune

These picture were taken during my trip to Pune in June. Almost all of these are from around Lonavla except the Grey hornbill which I sighted in Pune, Maharashtra.

Dusky Crag Martin

Grey hornbill

Bronze back tree snake
Bronze back tree snake

Red vented Bulbul

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bhaja caves, one of the oldest Buddhist religious centres in the Deccan area, India

Bhaja caves, Maharashtra
Just another 8 kms away from the Karla caves near Lonavla, Maharashtra, India, are another set of Buddhist rock-cut caves of Bhaja. The Buddhist rock-cut caves at Bhaja date back to the 2nd Century BC and are of the Hinayana sect of Buddhism.

It is not a difficult climb, though during the monsoons you may need to watch your step, but it is worth the trek. I would recommend that you definitely visit this cave complex, especially if you are visiting Lonavla.

The prayer is quite similar to that of Karla. The exterior side of the prayer hall had a timber attachment but it is no longer there. This place is quite captivating.

I keep visualizing how this place must have looked in the 2nd century BC. This place is quite remote  since it is at a certain height and away from the main city, back then it must have been so completely cut off. But, the architecture is certainly not back dated, it was quite advanced actually. There are structures that help in harvesting water.These structures look like water tanks so that rain water could be stored. Very interesting.

Buddhist 2nd century BC
rock-cut caves, Bhaja
Prayer hall

Monks living quarters
at Bhaja
One of the quarters
at Bhaja

You will find clusters of stupas in this complex, and there are quite a few interesting sculptures in the cave complex.

Stupas at Bhaja
Buddhist Stupa

Sculptures on the
walls of the cave complex
Sculptures on the
walls of the cave complex

A symbol carved in the
prayer hall
Bhaja caves
View from Bhaja caves