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The Architecture of Enlightenment
Mandala is an ancient Hindu and Buddhist graphic symbol of the universe, a cosmic diagram that functions as a powerful aid to meditation and concentration. It is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community, connection.
 
The Mandala is a symbol which acts as a support for the meditating person. The mandala is often illustrated as a palace with four gates, facing the four corners of the Earth.
 
The word "mandala" comes from the Sanskrit verbal root "mand" (meaning to mark off, decorate, set off)and the Sanskrit suffix "la" (meaning circle, essence, sacred center). The mandala's symbolic power can be traced back to millennia-old roots in Indian temple architecture,which created sacred spaces linking the worshiper to the larger cosmos. In these temples, time and space were represented in a vocabulary of circles and squares. Similarly, a mandala helps believers visualize the universe and their place in it, often in relation to a specific deity found in the center of the image.
 
 
Mandalas are used in the rituals of tantric initiation. They are constructed at the beginning of the initiation, out of grains of colored sand carefully placed on a specially prepared platform. Thus mandalas, like Vedic altars, are temporary structures built of impermanent materials. But while the mud-bricks of altars are simply abandoned after the ritual sacrifice, mandalas are deliberately destroyed, their sand swept up upon completion of the initiation and poured into a nearby stream or river.
 
All monks at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are required to learn how to construct mandalas as part of their training. The learning process is two-fold, including the memorization of texts that specify the names, lengths, and positions of the primary lines that define the basic structure of mandalas, as well as the manual techniques of drawing and pouring sand. These texts, however, do not describe every line, nor every detail of each mandala, but rather serve as mnemonic guides to the complete forms of mandalas that must be learned from the repeated practice of construction under the guidance of experienced monks.
 
It is believed that in his enlightened form, the Buddha is no longer in this world. As one of his epithets indicate, the Buddha is tathagata, or "thus-gone," and in the absence of his physical body, the mandala represents his "body of enlightenment." Thus this stunning ancient art form occupies a significant religious role in Buddhism.
 
Arriving At Mandalas
 
By Flight :
Indian Air Lines operates regular flight to Leh from Delhi, twice a week between Leh to Jammu and once a week from Srinagar. Jet Airways Operates daily flight between Leh to Delhi.
 
By Roadways :
There are two overland routes the Srinagar to Leh road remains open from early June to November. The Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation operates regular deluxe and ordinary bus services.
 
By Manali :
Leh road remains open from mid June to early October. Himachal Pradesh tourism, HRTC and Manali private bus union, operates a daily bus services, which takes two days to reach Leh, after a night halt at Sarchu or Darcha.
 
By Taxis :
Taxies are also available at Leh, Manali and Srinagar.
 
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