Mounds of yellow sand- sand the colour of the moon. Craters and holes everywhere, like there had been a volley of asteroid hits there centuries back. It was a very eerie place- Lamayuru, the moon land. The landscape of the moon on one side, and the rugged landscape of Ladakh with sparse greenery on the other. All under a very blue sky and blindingly bright sunlight. It sent a shiver down my back.
Just beyond this unnatural place was a monastery, the Lamayuru monastery. This 18th century monastery was nothing out of the ordinary but for its thanka painting that was over five storeys tall and wide, and which was put on display only on auspicious days. We had to go back disappointed, as the day we had chosen to visit was not an auspicious one.
On the way back, we stopped at the extraordinary magnetic hill. It is supposed to create a magnetic field around it, strong enough to pull automobiles, and even cause disturbance to planes and choppers flying over it. Not completely believing what I had read about it on the internet, I went there, a little apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. Our driver stopped at a line drawn on the road, switched off the engine, and released the brake. And voila!! The car started moving on its own, towards the hill!! And believe me when I say that it was a completely flat surface, no inclination.
After that unexpected ride that cost us no petrol, we paid a visit to a Gurudwara (the holy shrine for the Sikhs) there- Gurudwara Pathar Sahib. Legend has it, that Guru Nanak came to that place to meditate, and chase away a demon who was torturing the villagers there, by having one human for his meal every day. On seeing Guru Nanak meditating quietly on the shores of the river Indus, the furious demon threw a huge boulder at him. But the boulder, on touching Guru Nanak, turned into a wax like substance, and took his shape, without hurting him. On seeing this and realising that Guru Nanak, was a man of God, the demon immediately begged for forgiveness, and repented his sins by being of service to the same villagers that he had tortured. This Gurudwara, built at the place of this incident, holds the boulder of interest.
When there, we first had wash our feet and hands in a pool of freezing cold water, to cleanse ourselves before entering the divine shrine. We also had to cover our heads with a bandana, to leave behind the pride, and enter with an open heart and mind, fully capable to receive the blessings of the almighty.
It was a long day, and we were tired of walking and climbing, tired from panting for air in the thin atmosphere. The trip had just begun, and we were already tired to our bones, longing for a good night’s sleep. But the days were just getting tougher and the nights shorter- just time enough to snatch a few hours of sleep, and move on to what this land of God had to offer us next…