Travel Thursday – Cairns in Ladak

Remember that story we read as a kid about a little boy dropping white stones when was kidnapped all the way along and hence found his way home? That is what Cairns are meant for. Just they are a lot more complicated than dropping one stone.

They are created painstakingly by piling stones one on top of the other, such that they are high enough to be visible from some distance away and you can find your way back. Hence they are placed in all the critical areas where there is a potential of one getting lost.

Mark left behind

But the Cairn made in Ladak are special for a lot of reasons. The land is barren with rocks plenty, but a cairn has to do extra work to stand out in the sameness in looks and color of the land around. They have to really standout, so that they serve the purpose set aside from them.

Showing the way

Often times prayer flags are also tied in and around a cairn. Each prayer flag has chants written on them. They are then stringed along and tied in a way that they flutter in the wind. It is believed in the Buddhist culture that the flowing of the flags in the wind actually carries the prayer in the wind, showering wishes on one and all. Hence a cairn and prayer flags are seen together a whole lot because not only are the cairns showing the way, the flags and blessing anyone who might need a sign to find their way back.

Along with prayer flags

Cairn also carry a special meanings in the way and shape they are placed. Pointing in the direction to precede, indicating danger, marking a place of worship, sign that you are on the top of a mountain and so many other things, all in the shape they are put together and how the top most stone is placed.

On top a monastery

The tourists can’t read the signs and their significance but the Ladakhi people can and hence you see all the guides sitting just below the prayer flags, resting in front of the cairns and prayer flags, soaking in all the blessings, after a hard..arduous climb.

On Mountain Peak

This was not the post I had in mind when I did WW yesterday, but with all the game references and pushing the cairn comments, I changed the post to this. Will do the original intended post some other time 🙂

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32 thoughts on “Travel Thursday – Cairns in Ladak

  1. Oh I learnt a new thing today – Cairns. I never knew they were called that. I had seen some on the banks of a river.. I was thinking that some kids must have played and kept it like that!

  2. WOW – Loved this post. Very informative and with very beautiful pictures. How I wish we all were taught our lessons in school like this 🙂

  3. Oh my god – wat a terrible looking gravatar against my name 😛 I guess I should sign in for the actual gravatar to show up 😛

  4. Oh my god – wat a terrible looking gravatar against my name 😛 I guess I should sign out of my account for the actual gravatar to show up 😛

  5. Very informative and interesting 😀
    We have a place named Cairns in Australia too 😀

    Fantastic shots and a brilliant concept behind those stone build ups 🙂

    Love all your travel tales 😀 😀

  6. Brilliant travel-post yet again Comfy .. sigh! I so want a vacation and reading these is nt making me feel any better .. I gotta gooo!

    Wil we get to read what ws actually on ur mind too 😉

    1. Go take a vacation Swaram..after all the mayhem that has been going on in your life..a vacation I bet will be a welcome relief..

      Yeah, I will do the actual post soon.. 🙂

  7. This is amazing, i always wonder why they have made it or may be for time pass, the real meaning was hidden, which you have cleared.
    Thanks, indeed it’s a new learning.

  8. I love these kind of vacations, where there’s something new to learn about – the place, its history, the geographical significance….
    Brilliant pics, superb post 🙂

  9. OMG ! this is mind blowing. and I so lurve the idea of prayer flags transmitting blessings in the air. Amazing !
    and I had thought there could be some meanings to them. but I shooed away that ; thinking it is idiotic. 😛 😀

    On a different note Comfy. You have so many stories to tell. You should consider doing something substantial out of it than just a travel Thursday. I am not saying TT is not a good idea; but these stories deserve bigger canvas. You know what I mean ?

    1. The first time I heard the meaning of the prayer flags I fell in love with the idea..and since then whenever I spy one even from far I have a sense of peace, that everything will be all right..

      As for a bigger canvas, I would not know what else to do with it Misty. These are just my travel stories. I have always wanted to put them down somewhere but did not know where. TT helps me do just that..

  10. Everything I wanted to say has already been said by other blogger buddies so I end up saying Pictures were marvellous and the description was superb…
    Loved every bit of your post…

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