We arrived at the quiet, clean Alchi village in the afternoon at around 12 noon. We were told to visit the Alchi monastery immediately as it closes at 1 pm for quite sometime. We were tempted to stand at the innumerable souvenir shops on the narrow way to the monastery but decided to visit the shops on our way back.
The monastery is around 1000 years old. It is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India along with the Buddhist monks. There are several shrines. The first one is 3-storied high. An amazing item is the stairs to the upper floors --- it is a trunk of a tree! The shrine has old frescoes and tall statues. The next shrine is spacious. It also has frescoes and is very old as evident from the wide crack in the wall. There are two more shrines. The local ladies pick apricots within the monastery compound. We were touched by their simplicity and hospitable nature. There are many prayer wheels lined one after the other. At one end of the monastery complex, one will be able to stand beside the mighty River Indus. It is such a wonderful scene -- cannot be captured in a camera! By the time we came back to the first shrine from the bank of Indus, it was past 1 pm and the shrines had closed. We felt bad to see a number of tourists going back without seeing the shrines.
We visited the souvenir shops on our way back. They had a huge collection of souvenirs worth buying after bargaining. The restaurants are also quite good.
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