The next spot in our trip was the Lamayuru Monastery, also known as the Tharpa Ling or the place of freedom. It is believed to be one of the oldest and largest monasteries in this part of the world. It was pretty far away from Leh and we had to travel for about an hour to reach the place. It is situated over a steep mountain at somewhere between Kha-la-che and Bodhkharbu. It is home to the Red Har Sect of Buddhism and presently houses around 50 monks. But we came to know from the locals that there was a time when more than 400 monks used to stay in this monastery.
We entered the monastery and were left speechless by the magnificent collection of murals, wall paintings, thangkas, scriptures, etc. It also houses statues belonging to Buddha’s various forms and several other deities. The monastery is associated with a number of legends. Some say that it was Mahasiddhacharya Naropa who had constructed the monastery in the 11th century after meditating here.
Another story says that the buildings of the Lamayuru were built during the 10th century by the then King of Ladakh. A third legend says that the monastery was built in the 16th century by Jamyang Namgyal, the then King of Ladakh. It is believed that a Lama had cured the King’s leprosy. And the King decided to donate various privileges and the monastery’s buildings to the lama as a symbol of gratitude. According to this legend, the King made sure that the zone in which the monastery was built should be completely free from any kind of arrests. This is why Lamayuru is considered to be the site of freedom.
We could see that the monastery was composed of residential buildings and a temple for monks, namely the Gonkhang and the aseembly hall or the Dukhang. The former had walls which were laden with rich and colourful paintings showcasing various forms of Buddhist deities. We learnt that the Gonkhang is mainly devoted to the religion’s guardians. We also spotted a small cave which is believed to be the site for Naropa’s meditation.