One of the important monasteries in Ladakh is Likir. Likir heads a few other monasteries like Alchi. Today, Likir is famous for the big Buddha statue there. Such big statues undoubtedly look impressive against the barren land, mountains and snow peaks around them. There are several now in Ladakh.
The Tall Buddha Statue at Likir Monastery
Likir, like most monasteries, is quite old; although the buildings have been rebuilt and extended over the years. Likir has a good collection of old manuscripts and religious texts. Some very, very old too.
When I went a floor above, there was a lama painting the traditional paintings - you can say Thangka style. He informed me that such traditional painting is sacred art, and not many people are good in it. He had already scrubbed off the old paint from the walls and now was painting some beautifully coloured Buddhist paintings.
Likir also has a school for small children too. This is like an elementary school. So when these children grow up, they go to Leh or their Buddhist Monastery school in Karnataka. Karnataka has the second biggest settlement of Tibetans. Going ahead these children will become Lamas.
When I visited there, like almost everywhere else, I was the only visitor. I could walk up to the class and talk to the teachers there and click some pictures too. There were several children busy doing things that the teacher had assigned them to. The teacher wasn't too happy about the disturbance, but then somehow I convinced her to let me intrude for a short while.
The children all were dressed up in the monks' dresses; Maroon robes with sweaters or jackets. They looked like they were liking what they were doing. In this school they teach there not just Buddhism, but western languages and mathematics and science etc too. So the Buddhist monks are not just religious advanced people, but they are very well versed with today's life. Today's technology and knowledge. I was quite fascinated with the idea.
The teachers there were quite gracious to let me click some pictures, but eventually threw me out as I started taking too much time!