For seven days I’ve been sizing up the long walk to Shanti Stupa, perched high on the hill behind my window. Slowly, I built up the resolve needed to finally climb it early this evening. Sunset here is around 7:15pm. Starting the climb at 6:30pm, about ½ hour later than I’d planned to, my concern was that I’d walk all that way & miss the reward of sunset light. However, I also though it would take me around 1 hour to get my butt up there…..but to my utter amazement, even carrying a loaded backpack, I managed to get up there in 20 mins. Maybe I’m not as out of condition as I’d initially thought – must be all the exercise I’m getting – or perhaps I just way overestimated the time required.
The steps were really steep & uneven, different heights & widths along the path. I found myself leaning forward a bit so momentum (or sheer exhaustion) wouldn’t have me fall backward , especially with the backpack weight. Stopping at least 4 times, sucking in as much air as possible (hard at this altitude), legs burning from the effort, staying focused on one step at a time, I finally made it.
Built in 1991 by Japanese monks to promote world peace, the stupa is beautiful & huge, placed in such a magnificent position overlooking the entire Leh valley, surrounded my mountains at the rear. I stayed up there for more than ½ hour, soaking up the gorgeous views. The sky was partly overcast, so I didn’t get to see the full palette of deep golden colours reflected off the mountain sides – I may just have to make another trip to capture that.
Darkness was settling in quickly as I started back off the hill. To keep my balance & presence, it seemed quite appropriate to chant the ‘Om mani padme hum’ mantra all the way down – got into the spiritual mood of the place too.
Really feel as though I worked my body…..apart from a bit of leg wobble, I feel great!