When you have been invited to be part of a 60 member birthday celebration of a larger- than -life figure, Sidhesh Kaul , you DONT SAY ‘ NO’!
But , just then , you read the fine print and discover the ‘party ‘ is in Leh , in faraway , high altitude Ladakh !
You stand back and shudder !
At this point in your life you are messed up with peculiar Medical issues . Do you want to add to that list ??
For bratty Sid and his lovely , lively wife Cherry you decide well er …er …YES !
And this decision is Unanimous too !
And so , Mid -sept 60 of us swoop down to one of the 10 most scenic airports of the world !
Surrounded by miles of barren desert mountains , skirting the winding Indus River , the valley kingdom of Leh surprises and teaches .
Lesson number one …Preparation is key !
For the first 3 days,
Diamox , a determination to rest and to have three litres of water before three ! Piece of cake , right ??!
One may be fascinated by the army presence in Leh , drawn by the Tibetan markets , in awe of motorbike 🏍 enthusiasts , , but it is the nurturing Buddhist peace that is overwhelming.
In the numerous stupas,monasteries , thangkas life’s learnings begin and end .
Huff , puff , up you trudge to the monasteries of Alchi , Hemis ,Stakna ..to name a few .
Located high atop arid hills , the steps up , get only steeper as you approach the colourful assembly halls .
So here’s Lesson number two . To get anywhere in life might appear easy but IT IS NOT ! You have to strive , keeping your goal clear in mind !
And then ,when you finally reach the shrines to the countless Boddhisattvas , you Bend !Sometimes even genuflect !
The doors to the temple chambers are small , ostensibly to protect from the cool mountain air but entering the sacred atrium coaxes a kind of humble respect !
‘Be humble!’ is lesson no 3 !
You are amazed by the Buddha embodiments of
Karuna ( compassion)
Maitreya ( friendship )
Manjushri ( wisdom )
ARM yourself with all three , my friend . That’s lesson number four !
The Mother Goddess of Longevity , Tara is here to guide and shower you her blessings .
In the beautiful monastery at Alchi , Tashi , our very knowledgeable guide , shows us a four foot diametered , intricately designed Sand Mandala .
He relates a story of how the Head Monk endeavoured to teach Detachment to his students by a swift swipe of his shawl on the hitherto painstakingly made mandala .
It must have pained the student monks to see their 6 month work destroyed in a flash !
It certainly did , us !
But detachment is the path to enlightenment .. Hey and we all want to be enlightened ! 💪
Sitting by a stream bathed by the afternoon sun at Le Mentok , a gentle breeze blowing in the azure skies , listening to the strains of an ace Ladakhi band , one could not help but experience ‘serenity’ !
It shows ,right ?!
By now , this rather special group of Sidheshs friends , born from ‘his life’s journey’ , had become each other’s friends too …
Share , Care ,Enjoy the NOW ! Lesson number 5 !
Our every meal in Leh was a treat! But Ladakhi cuisine presented by Kunzis , Chef extraordinaire in ‘the Willow’ , near Stok Palace , was a masterpiece!
Using ‘local’ ingredients , though they may have come from ‘nearby’ Tibet , Himachal , Kashmir , or Ladakh itself she wove in stories and delicate flavours to create the magical …
Especially the Yarkhandi pulao …
A shank of mutton cooked long and slow in a bed of rice with julienned carrots garnished with Afghan raisins , roasted apricot kernels .. ooh lala !
No lesson here .. Just Go ahead , Spoil yourself , soak in the ‘flavours’ , you are allowed to titillate your palate !
No religion BEGS for World Peace the way Buddhism does .
It was a pleasure meeting Ven . Gyomyo Nakamura , who came to India from Japan in 1975, embraced Buddhism and set up the magnificent Shanti Stupa in an effort to establish 🌎 peace !
Love All !
That’s Message no 6 .Include the birds animals ,the mentally challenged ,literally ALL !
In the early morning hours of our last day we visited the picturesque Thiksey monastery .
Here , young novice monks are taught logic and philosophy . The little monks scamper up and down the stairs , as sprightly as monkeys smiling as they carry heavy buckets of buckwheat and water , respectfully serve buttered tea to the senior Monks and the devotees seated in the prayerhall , recite chants !
These daily normal activities make them strong, wise , happy ! And it is this happiness which augurs an inner strength , an inner energy .
Lesson number 7 !
And thats the last of Twinnys weekly learnings ! ‘Do all your daily chores whilst-growing steadily within! ‘
I close my eyes taking in the chants of the morning prayers , rising in crescendo , the beating of the drums , the clashing of cymbals , the trumpeting of the bugle .
Every once in a while , in our lives there is an inner call , an awakening , a ‘bodhi ‘ moment ..
With my bugle, cymbals and drums
I applaud you Siddhu Baba and Cherry …
You have given us this ‘bodhi ‘ moment .
‘Life’ truly is a celebration !
A majestic one at that
Thankyou ! Thankyou !
And wish you a very happy birthday !
Hang in there folks ! A prize photo and a question follows ..
At Pangong Lake
Take a bow , Madhukar ! Oh I see ,you are doing the headstand !
Maninder and Shamila Kohli ….You are absolute stars ! But here comes the ‘question ‘
Pray , Why is your Event Management company called JUNIPER???!
And now finally Toodle loo Folks ! Bombay beckons …
Love you all !🤗❤️✨
22 thoughts on “Travel with Twinny ..Welcome to Buddha Land !”
Superb account of the days spent at Leh !! Thanks Radha.
Radhu would be more like it !
But that’s ok , Siddhu Baba !!!
Very will expressed!!
Thankyou Fellow birthday friend !
Adorable written. Just like you!
Captured the essence of the wondrous celebration of Sid’s life and the essence of friendship.
Truly heartfelt !
Lovely travelogue dear Twinny…😍
I can sense you are almost half way on the Buddhist path…..😇
Tread fearlessly & you shall be enlightened….😔😔😔😔🤗🤩
Haha.. yes Bhupi .. we number thirteens are always half way everywhere !!!
This is excellent!
Glad you were able to join your friends birthday at this exquisite location.
Yes it was an amazing treat.
Thankyou Yasmin !
Awesome account Radhika.
I remember Sid Kaul.
Used to live in Chembur.
Absolutely Viju !
Will convey your wishes … he really has gone Places !
Lad(a)ki u have us Leh’d
In a style that’s Bodhi 🌹
Dealt with an equanimity,
A serene , enchanting unfolding 🙏🏼
What a majestic site chosen at the pinnacle ,
In the abode of the glaciated snow!
To celebrate the Birthday, Friendships, and more,
To relive the cradled past in unison ,
The landmark sixties, with the sixties, an inspiration for the eighties 😊
Dil to kaccha hai jee,
Maangey bahut kuch aur jee
Sirf sathiyaen hain abhi
Karney Milney ki aasha hai bahut aur bhi ,
My birthday wishes to the BOY , who created this rendezvous 💐🎂
A puzzle … looking for an answer…. wonder whether the rarefied air ,
Is an elixir for a good thoughts and good living !? Do we desert the plains???
Thank U Radhika for a beautiful exposition and sharing ur lovely days with Us 🙏🏼
As usual , your esoteric questions and prolific observations beg some serious thought Ranajit !
Will sleep over and call you tomorrow .. NY time !
How about that ??!
You have presented Leh Ladak so beautifully. You make the the places you visit very special and lively.
Good observations and your write up.
Thankyou Rajeshree !
Loved and learned a lot .. enjoyed too !
Radhika this write up of your trip is outstanding!
I remember Siddhesh too.What a lovely and unique celebration!
Yes .. The trip was extraordinary !
Sidheshs Brainchild …we can’t thank him enough !
Truly awesome! ❤️
Yes Jo !
Fully Agree !
Radha I want to come on your next trip!
So cute Kim !
Let’s go !!!