Buddhism has influenced the life and thinking of the people in Ladakh owing to its widespread presence in this region. The locals come across as irrepressibly happy, with a strong sense of self and remain connected to their land having developed a close bond with their natural surroundings. The region of Ladakh can be seen dotted with numerous stupas of different types. From painted white-heaped stones to meticulously constructed geometrical shapes, stupas can be seen on hilltops, valleys and on highways being one of the oldest practices of Buddhism.
It is believed that after the ‘Parinirvana’ of Buddha his ashes were collected and placed under 8 different ‘chortens.’ They are also built for reasons like peace, prosperity, punishment or good karma. The 8 great stupas that symbolize major events from Buddha’s life are : The Enlightenment Stupa, the Stupa of Many Doors, the Stupa of Descent from the God Realm, the Stupa of Great Miracles, the Stupa of Reconciliation and the Stupa of Complete Victory.
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The Lotus Blossom Stupa represent the seven first steps of Buddha in all 4 directions, where lotuses sprang. The Stupa of Many Doors signifies his teaches that he gave his students in Sarnath. The series of the doors represents The Four noble Truths, Six Perfections, Eight fold Path and the Twelve links in the chain of Dependant Origination.
The Stupa of Descent from the God Realm symbolizes the story of how Buddha at the age of 42 spent time in the Tushita heaven where his mother took rebirth, as a token of her kindness he taught dhamma to her reincarnation. Stupa of Great Miracles commemorates certain miracles performed by Buddha when he was 50 years old.
The Stupa of Reconciliation signifies the resolution that Buddha brought about over a dispute among the Sangha and the Stupa of Niravana refers to Buddha's death at the age of 80 and his inclusion into the highest state of mind. It is usually bell shaped but this stupa at Lamayuru has been modified.