[dalailama.com] Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India, 25 July 2016 – His Holiness left Dharamsala early this morning before sunrise for Jammu. He made a brief stop near Pathankot where a group of Ladakhi schoolchildren studying in a nearby boarding school greeted His Holiness with flowers and smiles.
As the Leh-bound plane took off from Jammu and came out of the clouds the snow-capped mountains peeked into view followed soon after by the barren brown mountains of the Leh valley.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama alighted from the plane at Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport (3,256 m above mean sea level), he was welcomed by Ganden Tri Rinpoche, Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche and other lamas. J&K Minister for Ladakh Affairs and Cooperatives Tsering Dorjey, Chief Executive Councillor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Dr. Sonam Dawa, Leh MLA Nawang Rigzin Jora, leaders from the Buddhist community and Muslim community, and a host of others also welcomed His Holiness with traditional scarves.
Thousands of people, many dressed in their finest attires holding traditional scarves, flowers and incense, lined the road from the airport to Shewatsel Phodrang. Mothers holding their newborn babies dotted the route seeking blessings from His Holiness. The 12-kilometer route took over one hour to drive.
Arriving at Shewatsel Phodrang, His Holiness’ official residence in Ladakh, His Holiness assumed his seat in the small assembly hall below his residence where the lamas, local leaders, both civilian and police, as well as religious and community leaders gathered. Ganden Tri Rinpoche, the President of the Ladakh Buddhist Association, and the local Tibetan Settlement Officer made the traditional mendel tensum offering to His Holiness.
His Holiness extended his greetings to all those gathered and thanked them for giving him a warm and sincere welcome. His Holiness outlined his three commitments – the promotion of human values, religious harmony, and Tibetan Buddhist culture – to the audience. He informed them about his recent visit to the United States where he was able to address the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the need for secular ethics in the world. The growing interest shown by a number of these Mayors was very encouraging.
His Holiness briefed them about efforts to introduce a curriculum based on secular ethics which he hoped would be completed by the end of this year. He requested the local leaders to consider introducing this curriculum in the local schools in Ladakh.
Finally, before retiring for the day, His Holiness informed them that he was planning to spend the next three to four weeks in Leh including a two-week rest period with no scheduled engagements.