On July 21, 2018, His Holiness The Dalai Lama flew into the remote village of Padum located in the heavenly valley of Zanskar surrounded by the colossal but barren rocks of the Tethys Himalayas.
A sub-district within the war-torn district of Kargil in the unstable state of Jammu & Kashmir, Zanskar also extends and covers a small portion of the state of Himachal Pradesh which has housed the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala ever since the Chinese claimed to have liberated Tibet.
Otherwise accessible through an underdeveloped an extremely rough road which stretches over 200 kilometers from the city of Kargil, Padum is the administrative center and the largest of the many villages in Zanskar. Historically, Zanskar, a part of Ladakh, was under the control of the kingdom of Western Tibet.
Mainly comprising of people faithful to Buddhism, Zanskar houses over 12 monasteries and nunneries scattered in remote regions of the valley. His Holiness had flown in to offer his teachings over a period of two days at Photang – an establishment built specifically for The Dalai Lama – which is a few miles from the village of Padum.
Disconnected from the outer world, Zanskar’s remoteness did not stop the Dalai Lama from visiting the monasteries, nunneries, and schools to offer his teachings on an annual basis, mainly during the warmer months. Now, news had spread throughout the villages and towns of Zanskar that due to health concerns, this was the last time His Holiness, aged 83, would set foot in Zanskar. In colder months, with temperatures falling below -30C and with blankets of snow cutting off access to the world, the people of Zanskar barely get to be in the presence of His Holiness.
People from villages and towns across Zanskar and Ladakh flocked to Padum and devotees of all ages walked miles in the cold and light showers to participate in His Holiness’ teachings. For many, this was possibly the last time they could receive blessings and get a glimpse of the Holder of The White Lotus.
While giving his lectures, the Dalai Lama also brought up the issue of global warming. Glaciers around the peaks of Zanskar have receded rapidly in the past 30 years due to rising temperatures, and as they are the only source of water for the numerous villages in Zanskar. If things continue to proceed as they are on a global scale. the people are going to face water shortages and find it extremely hard to continue their self-sustainable lifestyles.
This piece was put together by Gautam Doshi.
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