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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Zanskar , Ladakh

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Zanskar is located in the Great Himalayan range on the banks of  the Zanskar River formed by the confluence of its two Himalayan tributaries, the Stod/Doda and the Lingti-Tsarap rivers,  the most isolated of all the trans-Himalayan valleys, it is a remote, ancient kingdom in the northwest Indian Himalaya in Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir State. It remains inaccessible for nearly 8 months in a year due to heavy winter snowfall resulting in closure of all access passes, This geographical isolation and the esoteric nature of Buddhism practiced here have enabled its inhabitants to preserve their identity in a chain of far- flung monasteries, most of which occupy spectacular fortified locations, high on rocky ridges in isolated valleys. These isolated valleys are linked across high passes by a number of long established pathways.

Reaching Zanskar the only  240 km road connection is from Kargil Suru Valley crossing the Pensi – la Pass at a height of 4400 meters from sea . Padum also called Padam the main village or town on the Doda river in the center of Zanskar valley and there are several small villages scattered around it.

Gateway to Zanskar Pensi-La (4400 meters) connects Suru and Zanskar valley

Access to Zanskar is difficult from all sides as it is located sandwiched between High mountain ridges on both sides of the Doda and Lingti–kargyag valleys, which run north-west to south-east. On the south-west is the Great Himalaya range it separates Zanskar from the Kisthwar and Chamba valley . On  the north-east is  the Zanskar Range, it  separates Zanskar from Ladakh. The only way out for the whole Zanskar valley is the Zanskar river, which cuts a deep and narrow gorge through the Zanskar range. In winters the commuting to this area is maintained across mountain passes or along the Zanskar river when frozen. Walking on Frozen river of Zanskar is an ultimate experience,  it had been trade route for centuries for Zanskari valley. Now the route is also famous as winter trekking among adventure lovers. Kargyag river which originates from Shingo – la and  Tsarap river which originates from Baralacha – la joins near village Purne  to form the Lungnak river (  Lingti or Tsarap) this river flows towards the Zanskar central and meets the Doda river at  Gzhung Khor  to form the Zanskar river . From Lahul Valley one can reach here by crossing the The Shingo- La  at a height of 17000 feet from sea level .

New road is being built from Darcha to Padum and then to Nimmo meeting at Kargil-Leh highway after its making Manali-Leh an all season road bypassing Barlacha la, Nakee la, Lachung-la and Tanglang-la along with building up of Rohtang Tunnel to bypass Rohtang,  until that would be operational only motor able approach to Zanskar is  from Kargil.

Village near Padum, Zanskar, Ladakh

The Great Himalyan range acts as a barrier for protecting Ladakh and Zanskar from most of the monsoon,  May to September it is warm  and dry hardly any rainfall or snow in this period , water comes from the melting glaciers,  winter snowfalls are of vital importance, since they feed the glaciers which melt in the summer and provide most of the irrigation water,  barley, lentils, and potatoes are grown by farmers at the lower heights.

People of Zanskar have origin from  an Indo-European the Mon and the Dard who came from Baltistan , the Buddhism came here from Kashmir about 2200 years ago,  in the 7th century  the Tibetans introduced Bon ,  8-10th centenaries  the monasteries of Karsha and Phugtal  were built. Zanskar existed as a more or less independent Buddhist Kingdom ruled by between  related royal families till 15 th centenary. Since the 15th century, Zanskar has been subordinate to Ladakh .

Two main branches of Tibetan Buddhism are practiced  here , the Drugpa , Sani Monastry ,Dzongkhul Monastry , Stagrimo and Bardan Monastery  affiliated with Stakna . The Gelugpa control monastries are  Rangdum , Karsha , Stongde  and Phugtal under the Ngari Rinpoche,  his main seat is Likir Monastery  in Ladakh,  the Ngari Rinpoche is the younger brother of the His Holiness Dalai Lama.

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