Travel Route: New Delhi – Jama Masjid Mosque – Leh – Thiksey Monastery – Shey Palace – Khardungla Pass – Nubra Valley – Diskit Monastery – Sumur Monastery

New Delhi and Jama Masjid Mosque

We landed in New Delhi, met Tomer, and visited the Jama Masjid Mosque, the biggest in India, holding 25,000 people.  It’s nice to be in a place of worship, especially on a Ramadan day.  The high temperature and humidity put additional strain on the Mosque’s fasting worshipers; I felt it energetically, or was I projecting?  Yet people were friendly and in very high spirits.  Danna was in high demand for group photos and critique of her drawing skills.

We are flying to Leh in Ladakh early tomorrow to start our Himalayan adventure.


Meditating on Buddha’s wisdom

When I sat yesterday facing the Buddha sculpture, I got a reminder that I have a choice to make.  It’s not uncommon to negotiate a deal with an Indian merchant when they’ll tell you what you want to hear but will deliver only what they can.  When it happens, and it did yesterday morning, never mind the small details, I felt annoyed, upset, disappointed, angry – you get the picture.  I’m sure many of you have had it too, and on a side note: similar situations and such feelings are not exclusive to India.  The Buddha reminded me that dwelling in these kinds of emotions is an act of self-inflicted suffering.  So, the question is, how does one move on?  First, I need to develop an awareness of the situation; then, I need to formulate a well-planned course of action with a detailed execution; only then I get back to a place of equanimity.

It might sound simple; the problem is I don’t always remember because I am just human.  My goal is to improve, which I do.  It’s all about progress, not perfection.

Khardungla Pass

The Nubra road zigzags up a bare-rock mountain, all the way to the highest motorable pass in the world – Khardungla Pass, and down to Nubra Valley.  Khardungla Pass’ elevation is 18,380 feet (5,602 m).  The scenery of the high desert is awe-inspiring.  The road construction has been in progress for the last 20 years and is still in progress, yet its conditions worsen, said Tashi, our driver.  A lot of the deterioration is due to climate change.  Fifteen years ago, the snow covering the Khardungla Pass extended, even in the summer, all the way down to Leh, but that’s no longer the case.

I often think about the Buddha’s last words:  “Be a light to yourselves, seek no other, never give up.”

These are the memorable words of Buddha:  “Believe not because an old book is produced as an authority.  Believe not because your father said [you should] believe the same.  Believe not because other people like you believe it.  Test everything, try everything, and then believe it, and if you find it for the good of many, give it to all.”  And with these words, the Master passed away.

The colors are vivid, dominated by orange, gold, and burgundy.  Buddhist art evolved over the centuries, but it’s not evident to a layman’s eye, like mine.  It’s a testament to the power of tradition and consistency.

The Nubra River and Sachin Glacier

The Nubra River descends from the heavily disputed area of Sachin Glacier, the world’s highest battleground between India and Pakistan.  Thus, it’s not surprising to see many military truck convoys along the roads, checkpoints, and military bases.