While traveling within Ladakh it is a common sight to find piles and mounds of carved Mani stones inside monastery areas, roadsides, sometimes decorated with goat or yak horns at the entrances of homes. The universal mantra of the Avalokitesvara Buddha ‘Om Mani Pad Me Hum’ is etched into these smooth stones with hammers and chisels. Monks carve them occasionally as a form of 'Sadhana' or meditation; local villagers make them in their spare time in winters. It could be a form of punishment or an inner calling or a method of contemplation.
Each time a stone is made it is added to the mound, hence they grow bigger and bigger as time passes by. The number of stones a follower carves and spends time on is similar to the japa that we do with prayer beads. The local Ladakhi people and lamas make these works to express their faith within Buddha.