Likir Gompa, Monastery, Ladakh

Likir Gompa Monastery is situated at 52 km from Leh little away from Leh-Srinagar highway near Saspul village , it was built in the regime of King Lahchen Gyalpo in 1065 AD under the supervision of Lama Duwang  Chosje of  Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. New addition to the monastery was made in 1999AD is the  23 metre (75 ft) tall a statue made of gilded gold of  Maitreya (the future) Buddha in sitting posture on the roof . It is one of the best kept monastery in Ladakh .

The name Likir means  “The Naga – Encircled”, representing the bodies of the two great serpent spirits, the Naga-Rajas, Nanda and Taksako . This monastery  originally belonged to the early Kadampa order of Tibetan Buddhism , Lama Lha-dbang-chosrje  student  of  Tsongkhapa  converted the lamas to the reformed doctrines of the Gelugpa order in 15th centenary . This  monastery is also popularly known as “Klu-kkhyil”, which means water spirits. It is believed that the monastery is the first in Ladakh to have been constructed by Tibetan monks.

Likir Gompa Monastery

The monastery is located on a top of hill on the bottom of hill is lush green agricultural fields it was expanded in 15th century by  Lhawang Lodos Sangphu . Monasteries that flourished during this period evolved their complexes as small fortress perched on strategic height, utilizing the terrain and reinforcing it with thick peripheral walls . Likir monastery is a classic example of a fort-monastery, main temple at the highest point followed by monks residence just below them and their after the village houses, thick peripheral walls and narrow  open spaces as movement paths.

There are over 100 monks and students who live here are taught Hindi, Sanskrit and English under the supervision of Central Institute of Buddhist Studies .It is also a seat of the Ngari Rinpoche the younger brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama .

Lord Buddha statue at Likir Monastery

The monastery has two assembly halls, known  the older one is located on the right of the central courtyard with six rows of seats for the lamas and a throne for the Head Lama of Likir ,in the hall there are statues of Bodhisattva , Amitabha, large statues of Sakyamuni , Maitreya  and Tsong Khapa the founder of the yellow-hat sect. The second hall 200 years old contains a statue of Avalokitesvara  with 1000 arms and 11 heads . The left wall has paintings of the 35 Confessional Buddhas while the right wall has an image of Sakyamuni with two of his chiefs by his side . There is a good collection of  old manuscripts, has a notable Thangka , old costumes and earthen pots . The upper floor has a  images of Lamas and the 21 manifestations of the White Tara, the consort of Avalokitesvara.

Assembly hall at Likir Monastery

Likir monastery also serves as the venue of an annual event Dosmochey, the assembly of votive offerings and sacred dances which takes place on the 27th day to 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan Calender .

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Sarnath, Isipatana, Varanasi

Situated at about 10 kms. from Varanasi ( one of the oldest inhabited city in the world) is Sarnath was also known as Isipatana during the Mauryan Period , here Lord Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon  after he attained the enlightenment                         ( Bodhisattva ) at Bodhgaya , he came here to join five of his former companions ( Kaundinya, Bashpa, Bhadrika, Mahanaman and Ashvajit)  to teach them the Dharma , before reaching Sarnath he had to use his yoga powers to cross the river Ganges as he had nothing to pay for to travel by boat, upon hearing this the Mauryan King Bimbisara abolished the toll for Ascetics .

Dhamek Stupa , Sarnath, Place of first sermon by Lord Buddha

Dhamek Stupa , Sarnath, Place of first sermon by Lord Buddha

 

The first sermon Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta  Lord Buddha gave to  five monks on a Full Moon day of Asalah and spend his first rainy season here , the Sangha after the joining of Yasa and his friends grew to 60 in numbers , Lord Buddha directed them to travel alone in all direction  to spread his teachings .

Remains of aprox.18x18 sq. mtr temple , Lord Buddha meditation site

Remains of aprox.18×18 sq. mtr temple , Lord Buddha meditation site Molgandha Kuti

Several Monks stayed and learned about Buddhism centenaries after Lord Buddha , In second Centenary BC, twelve thousand monks were present under the Chief Monk  Dhammasena at the foundation ceremony of Maha Thupa at Anuradhapur , when Chinese traveler Xuanzang visited he saw  fifteen hundred monks studying the Hinayana at the Vihara where there was life size  statue of Lord Buddha turning the wheel of Law , in third centenary Varanasi was a flourishing rich city where King and merchants were wealthy it was at its peak in sixth and seventh centenary , the Chinese traveler Xuan Zang recorded 30 monasteries and  three thousand monks living at Sarnath .

Sarnath was the major center of learning of  Sammatiya School of Buddhism the early Buddhist School , the Vajrayana Buddhism was practiced  as the images of Tara and Heruka are discovered here , along with Buddhist images the Hindu Gods Lord Shiva and Lord Bhrama are also discovered , there is also a Jain temple near the stupa.

In 12th centenary the Turkish Muslim invaders plundered the buildings , this place was rediscovered by British archaeologist   Alaxander Cunninghum in mid 19th centenary.

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