Lamayuru- The Moonland of Ladakh

Lamayuru or Yuru Monastery (Tibetan: བླ་མ་གཡུང་དྲུང་དགོན་པ་, Wylie: bla ma gyung drung dgon pa "Eternal Monastery", Urdu: لمیرو گومپا‎) is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Lamayouro, Leh district, India. It is situated on the Srinagar-Leh highway 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) east of the Fotu La at a height of 3,510 metres (11,520 ft).

“Where can we find moonland?” “It’s right behind this hillock.” That’s a normal conversation in Lamayuru!

Lamayuru is a small village in Ladakh, midway between Kargil and Leh on NH1-D, the Srinagar-Leh highway. Moonlike landscapes carved into the Greater Himalayas are its claim to fame. Lamayuru is roughly 100 km before Leh, right after Mountain pass of Fotu la or Foto la, the highest pass on the Srinagar Leh highway. The roads on Fotu la are in an excellent condition and it is a pleasure to drive through this pass. Fotu la is the last and the highest mountain pass on the Srinagar-Leh highway. The roads are in an excellent condition and it is a pleasure to drive.

This is an army setup just at the end of Fotu la near a small town called Lamayuru, famous for its moonlike landscapes. If traveling by bus, the stop for Lamayuru is a few minutes ahead of this set up. The best location to view the moonscapes of Lamayuru is to climb up what is known as a meditation hill. Monks from the Lamayuru gompa stay here, on the top of this meditation hill. They have a medical laboratory up here where the monks churn out medicines from the local herbs.

Stupas, stones were strewn on the way up the meditation hill. These prayer rocks are an important part of the Buddhist culture, some of them being centuries old. Carved meticulously with the beautiful Tibetan script, these stones are a piece of art. Their colours are a glimpse into the stunning colours of the mountains of Ladakh.

Lamayuru and moonland have become so synonymous with each other that they even have guest houses named Moonland in Lamayuru! There are many other homestays and guest houses in Lamayuru.

History

A. H. Francke states that, "according to popular tradition," it was originally the foremost Bon monastery in Ladakh; its name means sauwastika and is a popular symbol in Bon for "eternity". Yungdrung is the name of the most popular school of Bon. It is currently affiliated with the Drikung Kagyu school of Buddhism.

The Drikung history states that the Indian scholar Naropa (956-1041 CE) allegedly caused a lake which filled the valley to dry up and founded Lamayuru Monastery. The oldest surviving building at Lamayuru is a temple called Seng-ge-sgang, at the southern end of the Lamayuru rock, which is attributed to the famous builder-monk Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055 CE). Rinchen Zangpo was charged by the king of Ladakh to build 108 gompas, and certainly many gompas in Ladakh, Spiti Valley and the surrounding regions, date from his time.

The oldest gompas, those dating from Rinchen-zang-po's time — Alchi and Lamayuru, and the less accessible Wanla, Mang-gyu and Sumda — belonged at the time of their foundation to none of these Tibetan schools, whose establishment they antedate. They were at some stage taken over by the Ka-dam-pa, and when it fell into decline they were taken over again, this time mostly by the Ge-lugs-pa. The exception was Lamayuru, which was for some reason claimed by the Dri-gung-pa".

The gompa consisted originally of five buildings, and some remains of the four corner buildings can still be seen.

Lamayuru is one of the largest and oldest gompas in Ladakh, with a population of around 150 permanent monks resident. It has, in the past, housed up to 400 monks, many of which are now based in gompas in surrounding villages.

Lamayuru is host to two annual masked dance festivals in the second and fifth months of the Tibetan lunar calendar, when all the monks from these surrounding gompas gather together to pray.

Houseboat