Painted Meditation Cave, Ladakh

In Ladakh near Alchi is a mountainside dotted with meditation caves. The one shown here is the largest and contains 12th century murals on all four of its walls. The murals are similar to those at Alchi (which doesn’t allow photography) in that they basically use a four-color palette and a lot of repetition of the small deity images. The paintings are very decayed in places but are in amazing shape considering their age.

Hopefully these paintings will remain intact and not be painted over with new ones like at Hemis Monastery, which left many foreigners and art historians in tears. The NOVA/PBS story on the restoration of the monastery at Lo Manthang in Nepal does a good job of explaining the different local (Eastern) and foreign (Western) viewpoints on restoring these Himalayan monasteries.