Head to the hills

Summer Getaways

Head to the hills
Sizzling summers are a perfect excuseto head to the hills. Herewe have Gustasp and Jeroo Irani suggestinga few cool destinations to beat the harsh summer heat.

Alchi & Likhir:  Divine Domain — The flight is akin to a near-death experience as the plane cruises past snow-dusted mountains and over lunar-like plains. 

Just when you fear that the tiny plane may crash into the glowing ramparts of the mountains, it lands at Leh, the highest jet airport in the world at 11,500 ft, and the capital of Ladakh, India’s remotest district. 
 
Ladakh is a harsh land, a high altitude desert that exudes a stark beauty. 

Shielded by high mountain ranges and slashed by some of the highest passes in the world, the region is a cloistered world where nature is untamed and unspoilt. 
 
Here mountain-top gompas or monasteries draw one like moths to a flame; into hushed interiors, wreathed in the aroma of butter lamps and studded with the giant statues of the Tantric Buddhist pantheon. 
 
Two hours by road from Leh is Likhir, a hill-top gompa that rises in the protective embrace of the mountains that are fissured, and cracked, it would seem, between giant palms. 
 
And from seemingly nowhere soars a giant gold statue of Maitreya or the Future Buddha, back-dropped by achingly blue skies. 
 
The monastery languishes in a pool of silence and there is no sign of the 100 monks who live there, nor of the Dalai Lama’s younger brother who heads it. 

Back on the road, and after a short drive, you arrive at Alchi village, famous for its 11th century Choskor Temple Complex which snuggles in the heart of the hamlet and surprisingly not on a hill top. 
 
The religious enclave of five unique temples has some of the richest and finest collection of wall paintings in the three-storey high Sum-Stek Temple and giant riveting statues in the other shrines. 
 
Stay at the picturesque Ule Ethnic Resort, 12 km from Alchi, near Ule Tokpo village of 40 souls where muscled mountains and a languid river converse with the gods who seem to be everywhere in this divine  domain. 
 
For more information, visit: www.jktourism.org

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