The way up north: Drepung Leseling II

The ride in the death car left me quite shaken on arrival to the Drepung Loseling monastery. It's proven to be worth it, though. This time, rather than staying in a separate guest house, we've been put up in one of the monk's houses, albeit in a room set aside for visitors. Our host is Geshe Sangye, a boyhood friend of our previous guide, Geshe Tsulga. Apparently he has instructions to give us the royal treatment, as the monks are pampering us hand and foot.

We did quite a lot of templing the first day, and also were taken to meet a high lama named Sharpa Choeji, who is in line to assume the leadership of the entire monastic order. Some of these monks exude a simplicity, peace, and kindness that defies description... really unlike any people I've ever met... almost other-worldly.

Although we have seen some fascinating sites here, our 2-day stay at this monastery is mostly to rest and regroup; it's been pretty much constant action since arriving 10 days ago, and I need a breather. I skipped out on yesterday morning's templing so I could sleep some more. This afternoon, we're headed out on what looks to be a pretty grueling trip: a 22 hour train trek up to Aurangabad. By all accounts, though, the destination will be worth every bit of suffering; the rock-cut caves of Ajanta and Ellora; the largest sculptural complexes in the world, covered with 2000-year old Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain carvings.