Kargil | 5th Century Lord Buddha’s Rock statues

Kargil 5th century rock carved out statues are the only three statues left in the world after Bamiyan Buddha’s statues of 5th century were destroyed in Afghanistan .

Kargil in Ladakh region of India is an ancient town situated on the junction and a transit point to the Silk route, traders from Central Asia, China, Tibet, Zanskar, North India traded the spices, tea, textile, rugs, dyes,  through Kargil till 1947. Kargil which was also known as Purig , the popular language spoken here is Balti-Purig which is a dialect of a Tibetian , Zanskar people speak Bhoto . After the Shia Islam was introduced around 13th Century and in 16th Century The King Thi Namgyal directed his people conversion from Buddhist to Shia Islam, lots of Persian words and Phrases become part of the daily speaking language , the social celebrations like marriages still have Islamic and Buddhist common rituals.

There are many statues and impressions which were made during the Buddhism period are beautiful rock carved statues of Maitreya Buddha exhibiting the skill and dedication of artists and devotion of people from that period.

42 Kms. from Kargil town is a village Karstekhar near Sankoo, on Kargil – Suru valley road , here a ten meter tall statue of Maitreya Buddha is cut out from a greyish yellow rock , it has been carved by the skillful artists , holes around it suggest that scaffolds were used to get such a tall statue carved out with very fine details on face, it is supposed to be carved in 7th Century.

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Karstekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

Maitreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Karstekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

The Bodhistva Maitreya is in “Abhya Mudra” with right hand  and left hand is carrying a “Kamandal” the water carrying pot , there are “Rudraksha Mala” tied on wrist and arm above the elbow , here we see “Janeu” and “Kardhani” the waist band are also of “Rudraksha” , decorative necklace and a headgear . Knotted hair are falling over the shoulders.

 

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Kartsekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

Maitreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Kartsekhar, Sankoo, Suru valley, Kargil

 

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, apati village, Sod valley, Kargil

Maitreya Buddha, Chamba statue, apati village, Sod valley, Kargil

Apati village is about 25 km from Kargil, one is to walk through a small green village settled along a water stream, after crossing the village and drain a beautiful Maitreya Buddha statue with right hand is in “Abhay Mudra” and in left hand is a “Kamandal” to carry water, the eyes are protruded out like Frog eyes, one can see the red colour in the parts above the shoulders and on the wall behind which has faded out with time .

 

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Mulbek, Kargil

Matreya Buddha, Chamba statue, Mulbek, Kargil

Mulbek is 42 km from Kargil on Srinagar-Leh highway , The Maitreya Buddha 9 meters tall  is carved out in a rock with four arms , first right hand is in “Varada Mudra” , second right hand carrying “Rudraksha Mala” the Rosary, first left hand is carrying the “Kamandal” the water pot and second left hand is carrying branch with leaves. both the arms above the elbow and wrist are having Rudrasha mala tied around ,long ears are with “Kundals” ear rings ,neck is adorned with decorative necklaces . one can see a “Janeu” hanging from left shoulder till below the naval . knotted hair are falling over the shoulders . The statue here is completely different from Apati and Kartsekhar statues.

Drass is 65 km from Kargil on Leh-Srinagar highway , there are few stone statues partly recognizable as a Maitreya Buddha , Avalokivtesara , a horse rider , a Lotus flower and a stupa. These figures are supposed to be of pre Tibetan influence in the valley .

These three Buddhist rock carved statues in Kargil , India are only left in the world after the demolition of Bamiyan Buddha statue in Afghanistan .

 

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What not to be missed in Kargil

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What not to be missed in Kargil , most of the tourist travelling by road Srinagar / Leh use Kargil as a overnight   halt because of not much information available with the travel agents , situated on the midway on Srinagar – Leh highway, ancient town which had trading links with Tibet, China , Central Asia and India has a long history. Before Shia Islam established in 16th century, Buddhism was followed and still the natives have common rituals in marriages and other celebrations .

Kargil city on the banks of Suru river

Kargil city on the banks of Suru river

Present Kargil district is group of small kingdoms have majestic landscape , many little known rarely explored yet beautiful interesting stories attached to history, religious monuments, tribes, ethnic groups, battle fields, grass meadows, high mountains, glaciers, apricot orchards, barley and wheat fields .

Kargil Heritage walk takes you around the old bazar of small shops constructed of mud and wood, old gurudwara and mosque with common wall, Balti Bazar the old trading houses, Munshi Aziz Bhatt Sarai where traders from Tibet, China, Central Asia use to stay , old bridge over Suru river and Munshi Aziz Bhat heritage museum .

Drass is the second highest cold inhabited place in the world, Kargil war memorial in the memory of soldiers who sacrificed their life for the nation is at the base of Tololing , here the names with their Regiments are engraved on stone slabs .

Dropti Kund is supposed to be associated with Hindu epic Mahabharata queen Dropti, a water lake which changes its color with the change in the season. The locals trust that if a childless couple consumes  water from here get blessed with a child .

Dropti Kund Drass , Kargil

Dropti Kund Drass , Kargil

Bhim Bhat is seven feet long black cylindrical rock, supposed to be a body part Bhim from the epic Mahabharata, locals trust that a childless lady can conceive if she consumes the dust from the rock. Even when a goat or a cow stops giving milk, the locals feed them with the grass from its proximity to get it to start lactating again.

Bheembhat Drass village Kargil

Bheembhat Drass village Kargil

Manman Pass is the point from where one can have beautiful views of Dras valley, Tololing, Rhino Knob, Tiger hill and snow laden peaks across the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.

Kaksar village on the banks of Shingo river, is the ancient village still having the old houses. This village is on the Line of Control and one can see the territory across the line of control. The villagers have lots of stories and memories of Kargil war and every year organise  Shaheed Capt. Saurabh Kalia Memorial Cricket Tournament in the memory of the Kargil war Heros . Shingo river originates from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir and enters India near this village, meets the Drass river then merges with Suru river and re-enters Pakistan occupied Kashmir again near Hundarman.

LOC Village Kaksar , Kargil

LOC Village Kaksar , Kargil

Hundarman village is recorded to be a about six hundred years old , from far it appears to be a cluster of separate  houses but in fact it is one interconnected house for a family, this village is on LOC and one can see a POK village known as Brolmo where every Friday one can see a large gathering at Shekh Ali’s mazar .

Apati village is an ancient village have a Ghandhara style Maitryea Buddha rock cut statue supposed to be of 8th century one of the three statutes in Kargil area left in the world .

Lord Buddha's statue at Apati village Kargil

Lord Buddha’s statue at Apati village Kargil

Aryan’s villages There are few villages (Dha Hanu, Garkone, Darchik) along the Sindhu ( Indus ) river near Batalik , people living here are Dards call themselves pure Aryans Brokpa, are tall and fair different in looks, traditions,cloths different language and their marriages are among their four villages only.

Lady in traditional gear Aryan’s village

Karche khar  a small ancient village have a 7 meter tall lord Buddha’s rock cut statue of 7th century it has fine details, it is one of the three rock cut statue in Kargil area left in the world .

Lord Buddha's rock cut statue at Karchekhar village Kargil

Lord Buddha’s rock cut statue at Karchekhar village Kargil

Suru Valley  is  also called the Gulmarg of Ladakh with dense plantation of Popular and Willow trees , it is full of Myricarea and wild roses , two side snow caped mountains and large number of Suru river tributaries , it is a famous picnic spot and pilgrims come here to pay their respect at the tomb of Syed Mir Hashim a Muslim scholar saint who imparted the Islamic teachings in this area .

Syed Mir Hashim Tomb Kargil

Syed Mir Hashim Tomb Kargil

Trespone is a picturesque village with a beautiful mix of Tibetan Islamic architecture famous Imambara over a hilltop  it is also a place where people still make a traditional Scythian Bow by using mulberry frame and Ibex horn which is highly tensile and strong known as Scythian Bow it is used for the annual archery competitions held in almost all the villages in Kargil region .

Parkachic Village is at the end of Suru valley famous for its glacier and beautiful views of twin peaks of Karakoram range Nun (7135 mtr) Kun (7077 mtr) .

Mulbek is on National highway to Leh here is the 9 meter tall Chamba statue of lord Budhha of 7-8th century one of the three rock cut statues left in Kargil of lord Buddha in the world .

Lord Buddha's statue at Mulbek village Kargil

Lord Buddha’s statue at Mulbek village Kargil

One can reach Kargil throughout the year by air from Leh , by road from Srinagar Zoji-la pass is closed from around December first week till April end and from Manali roads closes around October till end of May every year .

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