Korzok Monastery

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Korzok Monastery
Korzok Gompa, Korzok Village, Rupshu Valley, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India - 26.08.09.jpg
Korzok Gompa
Korzok Monastery is located in Jammu and Kashmir
Korzok Monastery
Korzok Monastery
Location within India
Coordinates: 32°57′57″N 78°15′12″E / 32.965758°N 78.253374°E / 32.965758; 78.253374
Monastery information
Location In western bank of Tsomoriri Lake in Leh District, Ladakh
Founded 17th century
Date renovated Re-built in the 19th century
Type Tibetan Buddhist
Lineage Drukpa
No. of monks 35
Architecture Tibetan Architecture
Festivals Korzok Gu-stor


Korzok, also known as Karzok or Kurzok, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery belonging to the Drukpa Lineage and ancient village on the western bank of Tsomoriri Lake in Leh District, Ladakh, India. Korzok, situated at 4,595 metres (15,075 ft), houses a Shakyamuni Buddha and other statues. It is home to about 35 monks.[1]

In the past, the monastery was the headquarters of the Rupshu Valley. As a Drugpa order monastery, it was under the jurisdiction of the Hemis monastery. Two or four monks were assigned to run the monastery.[2]

The highly revered monastery is 300 years old. The Tsomoriri Lake in front of it is also held in reverence, and considered equally sacred by the local people. With the efforts of the WWF-India the Tsomoriri has been pledged as a 'Sacred Gift for a Living Planet' by the local community (mostly Chang-pa herdsmen). As a result, the area has been opened up for tourists.[3]

Etymology[edit]

The word ‘Korzok’ is a derivative of two words, namely ‘Kor’ meaning a place in the Ladakhi language and ‘Zok’ which is said to be a derivative of the word ‘dzot-pa’ meaning “manager”. Over the years, the last letter of the word was changed to ‘k’ to the derivative word Zok and together with Kor came to be known as “Korzok”. Another explanation attributed is that shepherds working for the monasteries in the nearby hamlets kept the king’s cattle at this place, not only to tend them but to also extract milk, cheese and butter. Hence, the place came to be known as “Korzok”.[2]

It is said that the nomads were exploited by the Monastery as they were paid very meagre amounts for the services rendered. Hence the place was given the name 'Korzok' (meaning: acquired by unfair means).[2]

History[edit]

The history of Korzok is traced back to kings who ruled in the inhospitable terrain and fought several wars. They suffered several setbacks in wars and had to lead a nomadic life in isolation. One of the kings of this nomadic lineage had sent his emissary to Tibet seeking help. He brought a Lama from Tibet who established the monastery at Korzok about 300 years ago. Since then the nomads preferred to change their animistic religion and adopt to Buddhism. They preferred living peacefully and in harmony with their surroundings and animals. The reign of the nomadic kingdom ended with their last King Tsewang Yurgyal, who ruled until August 1947 when India became a democratic country.[4]

Korzok was in the Central Asian trade route till 1947 and was the headquarters of Ripshu Valley. One of the kings, Rupshu Goba, who lived there with his family, built nine permanent houses there.[2]

Now there are 50 houses in the village but the floating population of the nomads, establishing their tents (made of yak hair or skin) in summer, adds to the agricultural operations in the region.[4] The tents are provided with vents at the top to let out smoke. Pashmina (yak’s wool) is the valuable product that the Changmas trade along with the salt that they extract from large salt fields in the area, such as the springs at Puga. They barter these two products for food grains and other necessities. In Korzok, in recent years, building activity is on the rise with the nomadic tribes changing their life style.[5]

Structures[edit]

Shakyamuni Buddha and other statues inside Korzok Monastery
Korzok Monastery6.jpg Inside Korzok Gompa.jpg
Shakyamuni Buddha and other statues Chortens and a Buddha statue
A number of Chortens in Korzok village

Korzok monastery as seen now is said to have been re-built in the 19th century on the right bank of the Tsomoriri River. The old monastery was built on a gentle slope, unlike other monasteries that are generally perched on hill tops. An impressive photong is also located near to the Gompa. A number of Chortens are also seen near the monastery.[6][7][8] Korzok settlement is considered as one of the oldest settlements of the world. [9]

The monastery houses the statue of Shakyamuni Buddha along with images of other deities.[10] The monastery has beautiful paintings (Thangkas); old paintings which have been restored.[11]

Geography[edit]

Tsomoriri Lake and wildlife

Korzok Monastery is situated on the western bank of India's Tsomoriri Lake, one of the highest lakes in the world. It covers an area of 120 square kilometres (46 sq mi).[8] The water of the lake is partly brackish and partly sweet. Its depth in the lake is 30 metres (98 ft). The valley formed by the Tsomoriri and other lakes, is known as the Rupshu Valley. The lake and its surrounding area is a Ramsar designated wetland.[3]

Korzok is hemmed between Ladakh in the north and Tibet in the east and Zanskar in the west. The Changthang plateau is the geographical setting with snow peaks that is the source of water to the Lake. The Rupshu Valley, also called the Chungthang valley, is a unique landscape. The barley fields around Korzok village inhabited by the nomadic Chang-pa herdsmen (apart from the monks staying in the monastery), have been described as the highest cultivated land in the world.[1] The nomadic herdsmen seen here living in tents only, rear herds of goats, cows and yaks. The wildlife seen in the area consists of Himalayan birds, wild ass (Kiang), foxes and marmots.[1][3][6][12] The streams, which rise in the valley, are used for irrigation. Summer temperatures in the area reach a high of 36 °C (97 °F) and a low of 5 °C (41 °F).[2]

Local festival[edit]

Masks used during the dance festival

The Korzok Gu-stor festival is held at the monastery and attracts many Chang-pa, the Tibetan plateau nomadic herdsmen. The festival lasts for two days (July/August) and ends with the dismemberment and dispersal of the 'Storma' (sacrificial cake) by the leader of the Black Hat dancers in a ceremony called 'Argham' (Killing).[13] The ceremony symbolizes the destruction of evil and pays homage to the assassination of the Tibetan apostate King Lang-dar-ma, by a Buddhist monk in the mid 9th century.[13] At the festival masks are worn by the dancers to represent the Dharmapalas (guardian divinities of the Buddhist pantheon), and the patron divinities of the Drukpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.[13] The annual monastic festival is also held not only at Korzok but also at the Thuje in the Chungthan valley where the nomadic tribes fervently participate in the rituals. They not only make donations to the monasteries but also dedicate one son from each family to the monastery. It is said that the local nomads are so dedicated to Buddhism that opposite to their tents they allocate space to keep symbolic statue images of the Rinpoche, usually the Dalai Lama, along with the seven offering cups, in perfect harmony with their own folk (nomadic) religious deities and spirits.[14]

Visitor information[edit]

Tented accommodation near the Tsomoriri Lake

The monastery is located to the southeast of Leh in eastern Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, at a road distance of 215 kilometres (134 mi). It is also approachable from Manali. The Leh-Manali Highway or Manali-Tsokar route leads to Tsomoriri Lake and the Korzok Monastery. The Leh-Manali route passes through Upshi, Chungthang to Tsomoriri Lake, a distance of 215 kilometres (134 mi). The road, climbing though the Tanglang La Pass, is the second highest in the world.[9]

Leh is also connected by air with many destinations in India.

A permit (obtainable at Leh only) is essential for entry into the area. Only tented accommodation, pitched on the banks of the Tsomoriri Lake, is available for visitors.[6]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "India's eleven new Ramsar sites". Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Jina, Prem Singh (2006). "Ladakh Himalaya: past and present". A Case study of the Chang-pa of Rupshu, Kharnak, and Korzok (Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd.). p. 41. ISBN 81-261-2579-9, 9788126125791 Check |isbn= value (help). Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  3. ^ a b c "Tsomoriri". WWF India. Retrieved 2009-11-21. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b Kohli, Harish (2000). "Across the frozen Himalaya: the epic winter ski traverse from Karakoram to ...". Korzok (Indus Publishing). p. 109. ISBN 81-7387-106-X, 9788173871061 Check |isbn= value (help). Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  5. ^ "Tso Moriri - Tea with Changpas". The Statesman. 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  6. ^ a b c Bindloss, Joe; Sarina Singh (2007). "India". Korzok (Lonely Planet). p. 386. ISBN 1-74104-308-5, 9781741043082 Check |isbn= value (help). Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  7. ^ "Tso Moriri in Ladakh: A sacred gift for a living planet". Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  8. ^ a b "Outlook Traveller Magazine". Korzok (Outlook Publishing). July 2008. p. 82. 
  9. ^ a b "Volunteer Tso Moriri". Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  10. ^ "Chang Thang". Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  11. ^ Outlook p.59
  12. ^ "Ladakh Sightseeing and Places of interest". Retrieved 2009-11-21. 
  13. ^ a b c "Korzok Gustor Festival". Footloose India. 2007. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
  14. ^ Rosing, Ina; Sonam Norboo Spurkhapa (2006). "Shamanic trance and amnesia: with the shamans of the Changpa nomads in ...". Korzok Monastery (Concept Publishing Company). pp. 89–92. ISBN 81-8069-247-7, 9788180692475 Check |isbn= value (help). Retrieved 2009-11-21. 

External links[edit]