Padum, Zanskar, J&K, India – Early this morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama flew from Leh to Zanskar. The helicopter followed the Zanskar River through a spectacularly barren landscape of rocky hills occasionally punctuated by small green settlements. When he landed at the Padum helipad, representatives of the local monastic communities, government officials and other dignitaries were there to welcome him. A light rain began to fall. As he drove through Padum people from all walks of life in the local communities turned out to offer a friendly greet.
Out at the Phodrang and adjacent teaching ground, monks, some with cymbals, drums and horns and laypeople, among them Zanskar Gyalpo, Gyatse Nyima Norbu and AD Tourism, Tundup Namgyal lined the driveway. His Holiness smiled and waved to them as he passed.
In an upstairs reception room of the New Phodrang, His Holiness was given a formal welcome with an offering of a mandala and representations of the body, speech and mind of the enlightened ones by a group of local representatives, who included: Zanskar Gonpa Association President, Tsultim Dorje; Zanskar Buddhist Association President, Tsewang Choster; Muslim Association President Ghulam Mohuddin; Legislative Council Chairman, Haji Anayal Ali; Executive Councilor, Tourism, Tenzin Sonam; Senior Superintendent of Police, T Gyalpo; and President of the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association, Ven. Chosphel Zotpa.
His Holiness asked whether he had landed at the same helipad as before and was told that this time it was the military helipad. He also enquired about progress at the MenTseeKhang, the Tibetan Medical Clinic and heard that it is successfully providing free treatment to 15-20 patients per day.
“It’s very good to have arrived in Zanskar once more,” he told the small gathering, “and the light rain that has fallen after we landed seems auspicious.”
With regard to his program while he is here, His Holiness confirmed that he would teach Je Tsongkhapa’s ‘Concise Stages of the Path’ over the first two days, as well as granting an empowerment of the Great Compassionate One. He agreed that this could be followed by a Long Life Offering. On the third day he would like to visit local educational and health facilities.
His Holiness then retired for the day and the rain began to fall more steadily, which will benefit the local pea and wheat crops, as well as reducing dust on the roads and the teaching ground.