Alchi in Leh, Jammu and Kashmir Best Village to Visit India
State : Jammu And Kashmir
Region : LADAKH
In Splendid Isolation, a priceless Himalayan Heritage
Tucked away along the left bank of the Indus in Ladakh, lies this monastic jewel – the village of Alchi.
In the north -western corner of India, 70 km down the left bank of the Indus from Leh, lies the lofty little village of Alchi. Sometimes described as one of the monastic jewels of Ladkah, its Buddhist gompa goes back nearly a thousand years, predating the Tibetan influence that was to become a major force in the mountain desert. But despite this exalted position, the Alchi monastery ceased to be a place of active worship almost 500 year ago. Its ministration then transferred , over a period of time, to the reformist monks of the yellow hat Gelugpa sect, at nearby, Likir, 30 km across the river.
The verdant greenery of the village is testimony to its miraculous survival. Moving out of the parking lot, one sees smiling faces framed in low slung mud brick houses.
Apricot trees dot the winding path leading down to the center of the village. It is easy to strike the right chord by offering the traditional Lakakhi greeting juley to men in goncha robes and women adorned in perak headgear. Mules laden with wares and building material mill around, being coaxed through narrow alleys. Little children in bright school uniforms complete the morning picture.
The hub of the village is its 11th century gompa temple complex. Near it, tea shops and lodges have created attractive outdoor cafes where one may stay the night or dine, read a book over a hot beverage or simply exchange notes with other visitors. Improvised curio shops around the pathways provide amusing bargains. The faces in Alchi will probably also include Mon musicians, originally of nomadic Aryan stock. Always a photographer’s delight, this mystical setting, where the Indus flows on against a massive windswept backdrop, is never short on time for chilling out in the bracing mountain desert air.
In a region that received tumultuous cross-cultural influences, from Buddhism and Islam to Dogra ascendancy, Alchi’s splendid isolation was successful in keeping its priceless heritage intact. Hare also lay the prime commercial artery of the Central Asian Trade Route. Crossing the Great Himalayan range from the sub-montane mandis of north India, the trail reached the Indus at Leh and, cutting across the Karakoram pass, joined the Silk Route in Chinese Turkestan. Beneath its vast canopy of rarefied blue, Alchi today remains an attractive oasis. For the contemporary visitor, access is quick. Scheduled jet flights connect Leh with Delhi, Chandigarh , Jammu and Srinagar. Alternately ,in the season, every July-September, in the 471 km altitude road from Manali or the rugged 434 km drive from Srinagar can provide the journey of a lifetime along some of the world’s grandest mountain settings.
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