Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ancient Bhutan

The spectacular morning sunrise floods Arrunachal Pradesh and spills into East Bhutan. Neighbouring Tawang is aptly named the Land of Dawn Lit Mountains as Trashiyangtse is the Land of Spiritual Awakening. The region sounds like a spot for morning people isn’t it? Yesterday I headed to Zangtopelri to pray, Rinchen Wangmo was attending the alter unwrapping a bundle of incense and pointing to the label she laid on the table, she quipped “Ancient Tibetan” Suddenly a jolt from the Guru’s thunderbolt coursed through my body as I realized where I was standing. Rinchen Wangmo herself was ancient in her simplistic kira and earthy manner and I was in a remote gilded temple in the heart of the Himalayan world. The sweet air filled my nostrils as a stream of sunlight illuminated the supple features of Rinchen’s face, her babe strapped to her back in colourfully stripped cloth. We had a nice conversation under the tantric statues of fierce deities standing on the backs of a three dimensional tiger. (Your author imagines a night at the museum scenario where all the statues come to life after Rinchen locks the door) On my hike home I glided through the cypress grove with its own array of odours to stimulate olfactory delights. Ochre ferns decorated the floor and one hundred foot old cypress and clusters of blue tinted pines rise to the canopy. Through the gaps the eye wanders out into the river valley peering east into India. The grove is set on a steep decline and the trail eventually connects with a ridgeline with an overgrown path. The path is so overgrown that I found myself swallowing strands of spider webs and at one point a large spider with yellow abdomen crawled down my arm causing me to run in the other direction. Eventually I burrowed through the overgrowth to a flat rock where I marvelled at the scenery; parallel on the ridge was Tsenkharla Dzong the ruins of Prince Tsangma’s castle. Looking east over the desolate wilderness it occurred to me how nothing has changed in 1,200 years or since inhabitants first ventured into this rough terrain.   

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