The 9/11 date is so well known around the world and especially to the Americans. This was the day in 2001 when the mighty twin towers were destroyed, the day when thousands of lives perished, a red-letter day in the history of America.
Today, 9/11 but 2011, and after the death of the mastermind behind the 9/11 terror, I am at Khotokha Rinchenling Shedra (Monastery) to offer tea and Lunch to the 250 monks there. I went up on the 9th and we were four in the group. One member in the group was Mr. Carson, who works as a contract teacher at our school. We reached Tashi la by Rope way at 4PM. Then we got a ride on a Tripper truck where the truck rocked us from one end of the trunk to the other. It became dark when we reached Khotokha valley. The monks received us with hot tea and dinner.
Then we were led to the guest room. The guest room was elaborate with an attached toilet and electric geyser too. The guide monk told that we have to be up by three in the morning and was a very odd time for me as I am usually a late riser.The monks there are always up by 3 AM and take very early dinner, at 5PM.
|I dedicated these lamps to the unfortunate souls of 9/11|
I had nothing in mind than to rush back to the guest room and take a sound nap. But, my nap lasted for a very short time. I was up by 9.30 AM. Then, we went for a campus tour. The monastery does have a beautiful environment. Flowers were plenty with different butterflies and bees hovering around. The lawn was also maintained well with fresh and well-trimmed grasses. I began to click at anything I saw.
|Monks entering the retreat hall in the Main Lhakang|
|After the blessing programmee|
It was blessings time after the discourse. All the sponsors (Jin-das in Dzongkha) were called in and blessed by the words of the revered ones. We were also awarded scarves (khaddar). It was some clicks with the scarf and then off to lunch. The lunch was a vegetarian one but it was very scrumptious. It is believed that food at monasteries are blessed and are always delicious. I began to agree with this belief.
After lunch, we made ourselves ready for the return journey. A tractor was there to reach us to Tashi La. The ride on the tractor was fun, especially to Mr. Carson who was travelling in a tractor for the first time. The bumps nearly made us pour out our delicious lunch. It took us an hour to reach Tashi la.
Then it was again a cable ride. My friends were more confident as it was their second one. The most interesting thing that happened on the return flight was when we could see the scenery below at the highest point of the ropeway’s trail. The area was full of mist or cloud when we were going up. Carson was amazed to see the height though he has climbed skyscrapers taller than this. The ropeway takes 30 minutes to cover the area. We were tired and satisfied when we started our engine and began the rough road to Samtengang.
INFORMATION ON THE MONASTERY, SUMMER RETREAT AND THE ROPE WAY
Rinchenling shedra is a government monastic school with 250 plus monks. The monastery is about 12 years old. The place Rinchenling is one of the 8 'Lings' in Bhutan. 'Lings' are associated with the great scholar Kuenkhen Longche Rabjam who spread the teachings of Buddha on a great scale in Bhutan. He founded eight places and each place he founded and blessed has the 'Ling' added to at the end of the place's name. Some 'Lings in Bhutan are Tharpaling in Bumthang, Kuenzangling in Wangdue and 6 more including the shedra.
The shedra is built in the typical Bhutanese style of monastery but it is equipped with all modern fecilities like electricity, geysers, phones etc. The place is a heaven on earth with surroundings full of flowers and without any litters seen around. The lawn is of international standard and is a treat to the eyes. The buildings are grand with beautiful Bhutanese paintings. There is one main building which acts as hostel for the monks and quarters for the lopens aka teachers. The main lhakang/temple is three storied. The ground floor acts as retreat hall, debate hall, discourse hall etc. There are three main statues in the ground floor- we can be fortunate to view and get blessed by the Buddha statue in the center, zhabdrung and Guru on the two sides. The temple of the founding lama is on the second floor. Below the lhakang, we see the beautil one storied library. There is also a small cottage where the reincarnation of the 69th Je Khenpo reside. The monks enjoy themselves with volleyball and movie shows in the dinning room, during off hours.One would enjoy to visit such a place for pilgrimage as you can feel the air of sacredness when you are in the area. And, it is obviously a great place for monks to learn and practice. Visit yourself and be blessed. The valley is also an enchanting one to get a break from your everyday lives.
THE SUMMER RETREAT
I am sorry as I don't have the capacity to explain further.
|The other box traveling on its path|
|taking a tour|
|Paddy fields as viewed from the ropeway|
|In the box and on air...|
|The cables disappear in the thick mist|
|Clicking all the way|
|The road, the river, the paddy fields from the cable|
|On the highest point- nothing but the sound of the pulleys and fog/mist/cloud, god knows|
|Nothing... and nothing...|