Rediscover Yourself At The Shanti Stupa In Ladakh
Ladakh makes you fall in love with yourself in a way that is unfathomable, you have to experience atleast once. TUTC feeds you in on the beautiful Buddhist shrine – The Shanti Stupa in Ladakh. Read on!
Words By Sumit Roy
Just as the name suggests, Shanti Stupa translates to Peace Pagoda; the sole purpose is to promote world-peace and harmony. And although there are many Shanti Stupas across the world, the one in Ladakh stands out among all. Why? We tell you…
History Of The Shanti Stupa In Ladakh
The noble idea to promote world-peace and harmony dates back to 1914, when the Japanese Buddhist monk and founder of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji sect of Buddhism, Nichidatsu Fujii first conceived the idea. However, it was not until 1947 that the actual construction of Stupas began across the world. Needless to say, this was the time when the world was learning to walk back on its feet after the World War II.
The construction of the Shanti Stupa in Ladakh started in April 1983 and was consecrated by His Holiness, Dalai Lama the 14th in August 1991. The Stupa was built under the supervision of Japanese monk Bhikshu Gyomo Nakamura and the Ladakhi monk Kushlok Bakula (after whom the airport in Ladakh is named). The shrine was built by Japanese and many Ladakhi Buddhists who offered voluntary services.
Architecture Of The Shanti Stupa
Situated on a mountain-top at a height of 11,841 feet, and facing the Leh Palace, Shanti Stupa’s architectural style varies from that of other Ladakhi shrines. This white-domed, 2-storeyed structure has an architectural style that is one of the oldest in India. A square railing on top of the dome signifies a sacred site inside the railing above which is a pillar with an umbrella that is believed to connect the divine with his people.
Level one houses the ‘turning wheel of Dharma’ or Dharmcakra along with a golden image of Buddha sitting on the platform and a deer on each side of the wheel. Level two displays events from the life of Buddha like how he ‘defeated Evil’ as he meditated, his birth and attainment of mahanirvana(death). There is also a meditation hall inside the Stupa.
The Shanti Stupa is situated 5 km from Leh, and is accessible by road. In 1984, a year after the construction of the Shanti Stupa had begun, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, commissioned the construction of a road to make it accessible. You can also reach the Stupa taking a steep flight of 500 stairs to the top.
Significance Of The Shanti Stupa In Ladakh
Religious or not, you must visit the Shanti Stupa. You will be overwhelmed with the beauty of the Shanti Stupa and the view from atop is outstanding. The Stupa can in many ways be called a vantage point as it provides you with a perfect view, a picture-perfect site really! You get a panoramic view of Leh City and the Changspa village covered in thickets of lush green trees with mountains in the backdrop. It would remind you of the scenery that you had painted as a child.
Visiting the Shanti Stupa in the evening definitely has its perks that you wouldn’t want to miss. The bright-red hues of the setting sun over the white dome will leave you mesmerized. In this fast-paced life where we tend to miss out on the little joys, these are the moments that keep you young forever. You may either capture the sunset or simply sit back and watch the sun set into the horizon.
And while you still reminisce your recent visit to the Shanti Stupa in Ladakh, our guides at TUTC will enlighten you on the many facets of this masterpiece. Hear them tell you the many untold stories, legends and myths surrounding this white beauty.
TUTC will also take you around in the markets of Leh which comes to life in the evening. Shopkeepers greet you with ’Julley’ that can mean ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Welcome’ or ‘Goodbye’. Here you can shop for handicrafts, prayer beads, prayer wheels, Tibetean prayer flags, Pashmina shawls, apricots, kahwah and much more.
After sunset, the Shanti Stupa is illuminated with bright and colorful lights, reminding you that Buddha is always watching.
And while you are at Shanti Stupa, don’t you forget that this Buddhist shrine was built to promote world peace. So, when you are circumambulating the Stupa, remember to chant this mantra, often referred to by Ladakhis as the World Peace Mantra – Oṃ Maṇi Padme Hūṃ.
Until then, Julley!
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About The Author
Sumit Roy is an Editor, Writer, Researcher, Translator and Proofreader at Aatman Innvoations Pvt. Ltd. When not working, he likes to read, write, watch movies or series, play computer games or even better – procrastinate. He believes in free basic education for all and thinks that capitalism first and socialism next can change this world for better.