We flew from Delih to Leh today, and we are very happy to be here. Leh is the biggest town in Ladakh; the elevation is 11,500 feet (3,500 meters) so we are taking it easy today to acclimate because the air is thin. It is surrounded by really big mountains; the plane had to fly close to them on the way down to the runway.
But there are two Stupas (Buddhist shrines) quite close to our hotel; the Gomang Stupa and the Shanti Stupa. The Gomang Stupa dates from the ninth century; in contrast the Shanti Stupa is only 25 years old! But it is far more impressive than the older one. It was built in collaboration with the Japanese and the Dali Lama laid the first foundation stone. So Tibetan Buddhism is a living religion here and the Stupas are by no means just for tourists.
Buddhism began when an Indian prince named Siddhartha Gautama realized that suffering is caused by desires and attachments, and that the way to conquer suffering is to practice meditation and mindfulness until you are free from attachments and attain enlightenment. Compassion for others is a big part of Buddhism; in some traditions you refrain from the final step until all beings can take that step with you.
There was a small temple next to the Shanti Stupa and I went in and was mindful for a while. I’m going to go back.