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After a relaxed first day, we headed out to see the local sights after getting a good breakfast at the hotel. Unfortunately Sunita was arriving in Leh the following day only and she would have to rest all of that day to acclimatize. Our first stop was the Thiksey Gompa, a beautiful monastery located 19 kms from Leh. Thiksey Gompa was founded in 1430AD and houses over 80 monks.

This being the first outing, we started to get a sense for the breathtaking terrain all around us. After all, this is not scenery one comes across every day.  The first thing pointed to us as we headed out of Leh was a completely brown and sandy 18-hole Golf course on a gradual valley surrounded by craggy mountains. This is apparently among the highest golf courses around the world at 11k feet. How cool is this?

Leh Golf Course - courtesy Google Earth

Leh Golf Course - courtesy Google Earth

We passed through the summer home of the Dalai Lama and we also had to pass through the site of the Ladakh Confluence ’09 before reaching Thiksey Gompa. As

Vijay, Shrinath, Jayanth & Vivek with Thiksey Gompa in background

Vijay, Shrinath, Jayanth & Vivek with Thiksey Gompa in background

we arrived at Thiksey, it felt a little like we were in Tibet given the style of the terrain and the architectural similarities of the buildings and monsateries. If you look at Thiksey over the hill (See picture), it is no wonder they refer to this region as “Little Tibet”.

Bluest Skies

Bluest Skies

We witnessed some of the bluest skies that one could have ever imagined. Check out the image to get a sense for what I mean. An absolute photographer’s delight!

Halo Effect

Halo Effect

As the crisp sun was beating down on us (make sure you take sunscreen to Leh), Shubra pointed us to the trees. The sun hitting the tree created a halo effect and the contrast with the blue sky made for an awesome picture.

Panoramic View from Thiksey Gompa

Panoramic View from Thiksey Gompa

The views provided from Thiksey Monastery was outstanding. Here is a Panoramic View. I stitched three images using Photomerge in Photoshop. The views are never ending and dynamic. It is difficult to take it all in at the same time – desert like on one side, green pastures on the other, snow capped peaks far away, ever changing clouds casting incredible shadows across the landscape – one has to be there to witness nature and it’s elements all around. What an idyllic location for a Monastery – calm, serene and simply beautiful.

Here are more pictures from Thiksey Gompa. Click on Thumbnail to see bigger image:

We headed out to Shey Palace, a short drive on the way back to Leh and then hit Sindhu Ghat (site of the Ladakh Confluence ’09). We headed to Shanti Stupa before we called it a day. More posts to follow shortly.

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