8/14/2010 | India , Ladakh

Stakna to Matho

By the 14th of August the tourists in Leh had thinned out dramatically with most taking flights out town.  The roads to Manali and Srinagar were still closed but the roads to some nearby villages especially to the south had opened and bus services had begun again.  Having been stuck in Leh since […]

8/12/2010 | India , Ladakh

Spituk: The New Rimpoche

123► The day of the flash flood in Leh was supposed to be a day of celebration, it was the day that a young lama the 20th Bakula Rimpoche, Thupstan Ngwang Norbu  would be brought from his birth place in the Nubra Valley to his monastery at Spituk (near Leh) for the first […]

7/29/2010 to 8/5/2010 | India , Ladakh

Leh the quiet before the storm

123► I first met Zangmo and Angchu when my Latvian friend Santa took me to one of the family style dinners held nightly at their Tsavo guesthouse when I was in Leh last year. I was impressed with the warm family atmosphere created by the Ladakhi couple in their guesthouse.  When I returned […]

4/12/2010 to 7/20/2010 | Nepal

Kathmandu and the Buddha’s Birthday

12► When Sarah left I moved out of Thamel (the tourist ghetto of Kathmandu) to visit my friend Kili in the “suburbs” of Kathmandu.  Kili had a bad accident shortly after I had left Nepal last fall, leaving him paralyzed from the waste down.  It was hard to see this man who had […]

3/26/2010 to 3/28/2010 | Bihar , India

Back to Bodhgaya

12► I smiled politely on the outside but I cringed beneath the facade of my face as a couple of my fellow train compartment companions struggled to close the heavy brass bracelet I had just been given around my wrist.  Sarah looked on with amusement from the bench opposite me.  The 3 fellows […]

12/12/2009 to 12/13/2009 | India , Uttar Pradesh

Kushinagar (Completing the Buddhist Quadfecta)

12► Having just been to Lumbini I had now been to three of the four main pilgrimage sites associated with the life of the Buddha, Lumbini (birthplace), Bodhgaya (site of his enlightenment), and Sarnath (site of his first sermon).  Only a couple hours by bus from Gorakpur the main Indian transportation hub for […]

10/10/2009 to 10/11/2009 | Nepal

Lumbini (Birthplace of the Buddha)

123► Every time I’ve left Nepal I’ve gone via Sunauli the border town with Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and only a short 17 miles from the birthplace of the Buddha at Lumbini.  Each time I see sign indicating the turn off for Lumbini, I think to myself I should stop there one […]

9/5/2010 to 9/6/2010 | Himachal Pradesh , India

Dhankar Gompa

123► Leaving Mud and the Pin Valley behind I stopped for a day at Dhankar a beautifully set high above the Spiti Vally with a old Gompa perched on a rocky crag above the city.

8/24/2009 to 8/25/2009 | India , Ladakh

The Dalai Lama in Leh

123► I returned to Leh in time to catch one of Dalai Lama’s public teachings, the last in a series of five.   The teachings in Leh are held in a large outdoor ground in nearby Choklamsar home to large community of Tibetan refugees.  The atmosphere the massive gathering reminded me something of an […]

7/24/2009 to 7/25/2009 | India , Ladakh

Korzok Festival

123► We had arrived in Korzok for the annual monastic festival held at the local gompa. Another Tibeatan monastic festival with the requisite Cham dances, trumpets and drums. While the Cham masks were not as spectacular as others I’d seen, the main interest for me were the locals who flocked to Korzok from […]

7/2/2009 to 7/3/2009 | India , Ladakh

Hemis Festival 2009

123► The next morning we gave our legs a break and took a bus from Shang Sumdo to Hemis.  The monastic festival of Hemis is the largest and most well known of the many monastic festivals that take place throughout Ladakh and Zanskar.  Its fame, proximity to Leh, and timing (falling during Ladakh’s […]

6/11/2009 to 6/25/2009 | India , Ladakh

Around Leh and Pangong Lake with Karin & Jeff

1234► I was excited to leave Delhi for Leh, not only for the obvious weather considerations, and I was certainly anxious to leave the heat of Delhi for the cool crisp mountain air of Ladakh, but rather to see sister, Karin, and brother-in-law, Jeff, who were coming to visit. I had not seen […]

5/4/2009 to 5/12/2009 | Arunachal Pradesh , India

Mechuka

123► The Mechuka valley sits nestled against the border with Tibet north of Along.  Unreachable by road until very recently this region is still very untouched by mass tourism.  The only place to stay is at the government power and water department rest-house.  Although that is about to change, a new tourist bungalow […]

4/15/2009 to 4/23/2009 | Arunachal Pradesh , India

Tawang

123456► Tawang is the most visited region of the little visited state of Arunachal Pradesh. A state which is seldom visited not because it lacks attractions, but more for the bureaucratic hurtles involved in visiting the state. A very sensitive area for the Indians, ever since the Chinese routed them in the war […]

3/14/2009 to 3/18/2009 | Bihar , India

Bodhgaya

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya Few places I’ve been to induce serenity like Bodhgaya, site of the Buddha’s enlightenment. Walking around the Mahabodhi temple marking the spot beneath the Bodhi tree where the Buddha reached enlightenment the melodic chants of Thai, Tibetan, and Sri Lankan monks and pilgrims fill the air of Buddhism’s most sacred site. […]

1/14/2009 to 1/17/2009 | Bangladesh

Paharpur to Dinajpur

12► From Rajshahi I continued north stopping at Bogra as a base for visiting the remains of the 8th century monastery Somapuri Vihara at Paharpur.  Once one of the largest monastery complexes of its time it has now been reduced to a collection of brick foundations, although quite a bit of masonry work […]

1/4/2009 to 1/7/2009 | Bangladesh

Bandarban & the Journey to Bogra Lake

12► I began my stay in Bandarban cursing the place.  After being deposited at the bus stand I began looking around for a place to stay with each hotel telling me “no room, booking.”  Could Bandarban really be this popular?  The only place that “had” a room was the fancy hotel where the […]

12/28/2009 to 1/3/2009 | Bangladesh

Chittagong to Rangamati

12► The afternoon of Election Day in Dhaka with the streets eerily void of all traffic due to a ban on all motorized vehicles, I walked to the train station to start my journey south to Chittagong gateway city to Bangladesh’s hill districts known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  Chittagong itself is a […]

7/11/2008, 7/14/2008, 7/31/2008 - | India , Ladakh

Around Leh

Monk creating sand mandala, Spituk Monastery.

123► In between treks and lazy days in Leh, I made a few day trips to some of the monasteries near Leh.  Spituk monastery is the closest major monastery to Leh and was mainly interesting for the sand mandala that was being created by the monks at the time I visited, an undertaking […]

7/12/2008-7/13/2008 | India , Ladakh

Hemis Festival

Monk watching Cham dance, Hemis Festival.

1234►

Shortly after I arrived in Ladakh, the festival at the Monastery of Hemis was scheduled to take place.  Probably among the most touristy of the monastic Cham dance (traditional Tibetan masked dances) festivals in Ladakh, due to its proximity to Leh and the fact that it takes place in the summer […]

1/22/2008 to 1/24/2008 | India , Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi

Detail, Northern Gate, Great Stupa, Sanchi.

12► Sanchi is a small town near Bhopal (infamous as the site of the Union Carbide chemical gas leak in 1984 that killed over 20,000 people) in central India.  Sanchi is the site of the best preserved of India’s Buddhist stupas.  The stupa complex set on a hill above the town contains some […]

9/19/2007 to 9/21/2007 | Tibet

Sacred Springs, Lakes, and Mountains

Pilgrims prostrating around Lake Manasarovar.

12► After the Kailash kora, we went to Tirthapuri hot springs and monastery associated with Padmasambava, the Indian guru who brought Buddhism to Tibet.  Traditionally it is were pilgrims bath after the kora, my travel companions had visions of soaking in a warm pool fed by the springs, I was under no such […]

9/17/2007 to 9/19/2007 | Tibet

The Kailash Kora: sin free for the moment

Approaching Mt. Kailash before starting the Kora.

12► According to Tibetan Buddhists completing the kora (walking) around the sacred Mt. Kailash rids one’s self of the sins (negative karma) accumulated over a lifetime.  It’s a bit tougher than walking in to a confessional at your local Catholic Church, but then again Tibetan Buddhism is not a religion for those wishing […]

9/1/2007 to 9/12/2007 | Tibet

Lhasa

Pilgrim with a prayer wheel near the Jokhang temple, Lhasa.

12► I’m always a little worried when I return to places I really enjoyed, not wanting to spoil those memories.  So it was with a bit of trepidation that I road train on the newly completed rail line from Golmud to Lhasa, and the trepidation was not solely because I was traveling without […]

9/9/2007 to 9/10/2007 | Tibet

Pictures from Ganden and Samye Monasteries

Ganden Monastery.

12► Eager to begin the trek and not knowing how long the first day would take us we left Ganden with out really exploring the monastery.  However, it was one of the only major monasteries in the area that I did not visit on my first trip and having seen the amazing setting […]

8/18/2007 to 8/20/2007 | China , Gansu

Xiahe: Monks, Pilgrims, Plays, and Basketball, oh my!

Monk watching the performance during the festival at Labrang monastery, Xiahe.

123► The city of Xiahe, in China’s Gansu province, is home to the massive Tibetan monastery of Labrang.  I had timed my arrival to coincide with a festival on the 20th of August.  There were a lot of pilgrims performing the kora, circumambulation, around the monastery.  The monastery was one of the most […]