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Moonscapes...at the Lamayuru Monastery

Image of a part of the Lamayuru Monastery, an 11th century Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Western Ladakh, situated 120 km from Leh near the Fotu La on the Leh - Kargil - Srinagar highway.

Known as one of the oldest and largest monasteries in Ladakh, it was built in the 10th - 11th Century by two practitioners of Tantric Buddhism and is located in the most fantastic geological folds and schist's rock surroundings, popularly called 'moonscape' thanks to the feel it gives you of being on an alien planet.

The site where the monastery stands was once said to be a huge lake. A buddhist saint "Naropa" meditated here for years to cause a crack in the mountain which drained out the lake and gave him the place to lay the founding stones. When the lake dried out, he found a dead lion lying inside it. On the same spot, he constructed the first temple of the area, known as the Singhe Ghang (Lion Mound).

Historian A. H. Francke states that according to popular tradition, it was originally the foremost Bonpo monastery in Ladakh and was called gYung-drung Monastery (from Tibetan: gYung-drung - a swastika - a popular symbol in Bon, Buddhism, and other religions); also gYung-drung-bon is the name of the Bon religion.

Lamayuru also marks the meeting place of the Great Himalayan Wall and the East Karakorum Himalaya Ranges.
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