Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Destination Punakha L'hakhang

Remember the Divine mad man Sir Lam Drukpa Kuenley (1455-1570). Well, in his quest to define himself, one day landed at Dochula pass. And who does he meet there but a Demon and no prizes for guessing a female Demon. The smart she Demon turned herself into dog but unfortunately could not save herself from the Sir Kuenley's " flaming thunderbolt of infinite wisdom " . So  our mad man decided to bury the dog , uttered the words " Chi -Med(no dog)"and built a black stupa over it. In 15th century a temple was built at this site and was called Chime Lhakhang or " no dog temple".

The itinerary promised a short walk through paddy fields to get to the hillock. But what was not informed us was the in your face "graphic" for lack of  a better word wall paintings. We got a taste of it earlier at Thimphu as we walked through the arts and crafts stores. As I had not read up about Chime Lhakhang or its significance, I actually had look at  the key chains, post cards, table art magnets twice and make sure I was seeing it right. But lets get back to our hike first.

Tintin promised that we will not come across any snakes and luckily we didn't. But the highlight of the short hike was the multiple birds we spotted. Also making it an unforgettable experience was the walk through the lush green carpet of rice and mustard fields.

 So what I didn't know till our visit to the souvenir shops at Thimphu was that Chime Lhakhang was also a fertility Temple. I couldn't see the connection between a slayed demon and children but when there is a divine Mad man involved anything is possible. No disrespect to the belief of Bhutanese, but our whatsapp group when into an over drive because of the representation of the belief and the fun comments did not stop for a long time. No, No baby announcements in our group so far though all of us were blessed in the most unique way possible at the temple. An unforgettable moment and I strongly suggest everyone take this hike and get blessed by Kunley, Zhabdrung, Shahkyamuni Buddha and Chenresig.

After the short 30 minute one way hike to "No Dog" temple, Tintin informed us the next hike would be a little more difficult than this one. And My God, No doubt about it, one of most amazing 60 minutes I have spent in amidst nature, Don't don't don't ... don't miss this one. Yes we had already hiked through paddy field but this one  was indescribable. The picture below was our first sight of Khamsum Yulley Namgyal from the road which had the parking lot. See the small building at top left hand corner. My reaction was " Are we seriously going to try this one?"

From the parking, we had to cross the Mother river through a suspended bridge enveloped with prayer flags. This point also happens to be the starting point for white water rafting Mo chhu.


The previous day's rains had made what was left of the hiking trail, a stream at most locations. It made the hike through the rice fields a little more difficult but the amazing varieties of butterflies we spotted made up for it. One of the most beautiful butterfly I have ever come across  is pictured below. This guy posed for us but rest of his companions were not so supportive. After the drive through migrating butterflies at BR hills, I would rate this place as a Haven for butterflies. Unforgettable. Yes, I will be using this word time and again in this post. It was truly amazing! Unforgettable.

After the short hike through the fields, we started our climb to the temple on the hillock. The light drizzle just made it more fun. The hike through the pine trees lead us into an immaculately clean enclosed courtyard. One of the reasons I loved Bhutan was that it was not only pristine but  crisp, fresh and uncluttered at all the locations we visited or stayed.

 The three storey temple houses Vajrakilaya, the most wrathful of the protective deities. The 15 feet statue is a marvel with the 103 manifestation of the deity integrated into the main sculpture. The colorful,  garish and complex mass comes together in perfect harmony.

Statues of deities, gods and goddesses and other prominent religious figures exemplify clay work in Bhutan. While statues are modeled by men, the women are into pottery and this art is called Jim Zo.

Though Tintin was letting us know more about the temple, I was eager to climb up the narrow stairs to the third floor. I came across two more deities at each floor but without giving them a glance, I headed out to the balcony .Tintin had promised amazing views and he did not disappoint us!
Statues of deities, gods and goddesses and other prominent religious figures exemplify clay work in Bhutan - See more at: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/about-bhutan/jim-zo#sthash.bwl3cVPs.dpuf

On the bottom left hand corner is the bridge where we started the lovely hike and the first photo of the temple was taken from the road along the river. A place not to be missed! A place where like the Lotus flower, another of the auspicious symbols, can purify mind ,body and speech and blossom us into a beautiful being.

Date : September 2014
Place : Punakha, Bhutan

Tip : Wear appropriate shoes for the Hikes
First : Hike in the rain!
The travel connection : Feeling of Bliss!

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