Leaving Leh early again the next morning (2nd Aug), we headed just outside town to a place called Thikse Monastery, one of the largest monasteries in Ladakh.
Again, we had to climb stairs to reach the gompa, but this time we were to witness all the monks in prayer (previously we’d only seen one or two). Before heading to the main gompa, a smaller prayer room caught my eye & ears. A lone monk was saying prayer in the Protective Deities room. When I entered the room, there were a couple of people sitting meditating in front on these large deity statues, who traditionally had their faces covered with cloth because they’re so darn scary. I stood listening to the prayer for a while which was quite strong compared to other prayers I’d heard.
Then I went to join the monks who had started entering the main gompa. Our group weren’t the only Westerners there – probably at least 30 all up. We positioned ourselves out of the way of the monks in prayer, & the cute boy monks who were frequently bringing milk tea & flour to the older monks (I think it’s called tsampa, traditional food in Tibet). And as boys will be boys, when they were sitting down, they were playing around tickling & teasing each other to the sound of cameras going off every time they did that. I’m sure one of the boys was the personification of cheekiness itself. One time we were told that our photography was disrupting prayer time, so we had to lay low for awhile. We must have been there for a couple of hours as they went through all the prayers.
A bonus at this monastery was that they had western-style toilets that were actually clean!!!