Thikse Gompa
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Visiting Buddhist Monks in the Indian Himalayas
The remote state of Ladakh high in the Indian Himalayas is bordered by China to its right and Kashmir to its left. Travelers who drive to this remote refuge for the thousands of Tibetan refugees who have found safe harbor there will traverse three of the highest drivable mountain passes in the world from the Indian town of Manali, where the journey originates. Heavy snow makes the road impassable for several months a year but during the warmer seasons, Ladakh's capital of Leh is a tourist destination for the thousands who flock there from around the world in search of adventure at 15,000 feet, mutton stuffed Tibetan momos, and the serenity inspired by the dozens of monasteries crowning the mountaintops that surround this topsy-sutvy Himalayan town. Thikse Gompa is one of Ladakh's most celebrated monasteries and is a must see destination on the thirty hour bus trip from Leh to Manali. It's located a short twenty minute taxi ride from Leh and its monks welcome visitors with gracious hospitality. There's a small cafe on-site along with a gift shop and plenty to see from a vantage point at the top of the world, but the main attraction here is the quiet grace of the monks who invite visitors to remove their shoes and join in their morning prayer service. You will leave with a sense of renewal that resonates long after you drive down from Thikse's mountainside.
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