I am sure I have been present at monasteries around lunch time, but only at Karsha monastery did I hear a conch being blown informing all the resident lamas, about 120 in all, it was time for the meals.
The 11th century monastery was built by Buddhist master Zanskar Lotsawa Phakpa Sherab who introduced Buddhism to this valley. Its thirty building, constructed in a cascade style along a hill face, have come up over the centuries and not all at one go. He was followed by other masters like Tungpa gyaltsa Pa, Thapuwa Dhamcheu Gyaltsen and Dupkhang Guelek Gyatso who established Karsha a major scholastic centre of Buddhist studies.
When the Panchen Lama could not go to the Amdo and Kham regions to impart some of his teachings in person, he designated some of his brightest followers to represent him. According to some sources, the ones who made the greatest impression on the villagers came from Karsha and were called Alaks meaning precious Lamas. The villagers, to ensure their good fortune of getting such teachers continued, offered precious gifts to the latter. Many of still in Karsha, not very well maintained, and some NGOs are trying to raise funds to preserve and display them appropriately.
I met a French woman who was painting gold leaves on a door to be installed later someplace in the monastery. She was in one of the lower buildings, with the kitchen and the guest rooms. A lama pointed out to a room designated for the Dalai Lama to stay when he comes visiting. The lady also said it would be time for lunch and I would be offered some too; unfortunately, I was not invited when the conch blew. Would have been nice to share the lunch lamas have.