Nature is Home

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Stopping by the woods 
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Serenity and I  ( Pavana Lake)
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A serene evening
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A closer look revealed this was just driftwood
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It’s ok

It’s ok to rip the mask and to bare all

To bring down brick by brick that unflinching wall

It’s ok sometimes to wail in pain

And let tears fall without restrain

It’s ok to scream and wonder why

And look up blankly at the sky

It’s ok to let your jaded body be still

And not hurriedly rouse a weakened will

It’s ok to wish it was easier than it is

To plead to fate ‘not now , not this’

It’s ok sometimes to want to flee

Where eyes that judge you cannot see

It’s ok if none can understand

They simply cannot , though you think they can

It’s ok to celebrate each bruise , each scar

Sometimes it’s ok to be what you are

It’s ok to flounder and stagger and fall

Until you find strength to rise and stand tall

 

 

 

Phodong : Learning about symbolism in Tibetan Buddhism

It was an extremely perilous journey on that very wet day when we started from Gangtok. I am so thankful to our enthusiastic and cautious driver , who assured us we would make it to Phodong and Labrang , although it would take us longer than usual due to land slides the previous night.

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Phodong Monastery 

Imagine travelling 40 km to see a lovely Buddhist temple and get a glimpse of splendid architecture only to find it locked with not a single soul in sight! A young monk appeared after about ten minutes and asked us if we’d like to go inside . We were more than happy and he pulled out a bunch of keys and let us in . What a sight that was ! Grand , ornate and simply out of this world . He informed us that photography was prohibited inside.

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Rear of the monastery

Famous for the chaam dance in the month of December , the rest of the year is a quiet period , with very few visitors. The old original monastery was destroyed and what stands today is one that was built in the 1970s. This temple is painted in the five colours ‘panchavarna’ ( white , red, blue , green and yellow ) which have symbolic significance in Tibetan Buddhism.

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Atop the front gate

The front gate with the Dharmachakra flanked  by deer gazing at the dharmachakra . The driver told us one represents a male deer and the other a female symbolizing harmony and fidelity.

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Guardian lions in front of the entrance to the temple were quite colourful , different from the plain white ones I have seen before.

The monk informed us that the external walls of the temple are adorned with the 8 auspicious symbols of Buddhism . The first one I spotted was the pair of golden fish .

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Just below the roof
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Bringing the eight symbols together ..can you spot them ?

He pointed out to this one and asked us to look closely , we did see some of the symbols almost instantly …dharma chakra , pair of golden fish , lotus flower , eternal knot ( in blue ) , the overall pattern of a vase , the little umbrella , conch . Am always confused about the banner of victory , so that remained elusive.

He then showed us a few relics from the original temple and let us a click a picture of them.

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From the original temple door
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The new temple door – top panel 
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The painted gallery on the ground floor 

We were also show the long gallery where monks sit and watch the rituals and the Chaam dance during festivities. The wooden chair is probably for the Lama .

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A closer look at the wall murals

It’s nice to be able to explore a place sans the maddening crowds. This visit taught me a little about symbolism in Tibetan Buddhism . Will post about Labrang soon. Till then , happy blogging and happy exploring 🙂

 

 

Durpin Hill : A monastery , bright murals and nature’s majesty

Durpin Hill is one of two hills in Kalimpong , West Bengal. The  Zang Dhok Palri Monastery looks gorgeous against the backdrop of mountains and plays hide and seek with clouds.

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Prayer wheels around the temple

Bright wall murals and a repository of 108 volumes of Kangyur (translated words of the Buddha) and other holy scrolls and books from Tibet that were carried by the Dalai Lama to India after the Chinese invasion and its Buddhist architectural style of construction make this monastery special.

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Wall mural
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Another wall mural

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The Dalai Lama consecrated this monastery six years after its construction.

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Work on the ceiling
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Ancient holy scrolls
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Colourful shelves behind the altar

 

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From the Altar

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Driving to Durpin hill

The Durpin hill is a vantage point offering a scenic view of the entire town and the hill is therefore called ‘Durpin’ which means ‘binoculars’ in the Nepali language. The Teesta river flowing , the tea estates on the way and a beautiful golf course are all sights to behold , making the journey even more memorable.

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Stopping to admire the Teesta
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The Golf course on the way 

 

 

Singshore Bridge and a Newari Meal

A quaint suspension bridge in Sikkim ,  some distance away from Pelling , is breathtaking.Connecting two gorges in West Sikkim , this is the second highest suspension bridge in the Asian continent. Surrounded by waterfalls , prayer flags swaying and splendid views of verdant valleys, this is a lovely place to visit .

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The bridge from a distance
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Like a swing in mid air
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Prayer flags adorn the sides of the bridge
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From the side

On the other side of the bridge is a little eatery that serves Newari food .Newar are the indigenous people from Kathmandu in Nepal. Many have crossed over to India and settled in Sikkim. I opted for the thali ( a full meal) and it was so different from anything I have ever had.

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The meal is called ja which means rice accompanied with vegetables , a curry and some chicken ( mine was a non vegetarian meal)

A side dish of fermented mustard leaves ‘gundruk’ is their specialty . Sun dried , it didn’t look very appealing , but the taste was rather nice . I enjoyed it . There was also a soup made of those leaves , Gundruk ko  jhol ( see the small steel bowl) . I didn’t enjoy that much . The tarkari ( vegetable siders) were all yum .nepali-roti-1

I also tasted Gwarmari ( Nepali fried bread ) and Sel-roti ( rice flower fried bread that looks like a doughnut). These are really tasty when had hot and fresh.

Walking mid-air , tasting Nepali treats and enjoying the pristine surroundings is a perfect way of spending a quiet evening in Pelling.

Hark ! Flowers speak

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Even if you are alone

Smaller than the rest

Delight a tired soul

And your day will be blessed

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Look up to the sunshine

Despite the turbid sky

Seize every moment

Even though the end is nigh

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Live and love to the fullest

Half-hearted bids will lead to gloom

Make that journey count

The one from womb to the tomb

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There is a light within you

Do not shy , just let it show

Some will see your beauty

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Join the chorus of chirping birds

Sing praises of sun and rain

Know one day you’ll turn to dust

Vanity will be in vain

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Impressions

Tattered robes might eclipse

A shimmering heart of gold

Those we call faint-hearted

May have valiant tales untold

Placid waters , unruffled tones

Who knows what depths they veil

Steadfast hands you thought would hold you

Let go promptly in storm and hail

Gnarled trees may bear sweet fruit

Wrinkled faces may have secrets to reveal

Can flawed impressions be rectified ?

Will unseeing eyes begin to heal?

About the picture : What looked like a flower from a distance , was a succulent plant instead . I saw this in Pelling .

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I gift you all of me

To compose a befitting psalm

I have not a powerful pen

Old melodies I sing to you

Those you’ve heard now and then.

Garlands made with quivering fingers

Aren’t as pretty as they should be

Clothed in pristine raiment, I hide

A heart stained  with profanity.

Flickering votive offerings , I know,

The murk of sin cannot dispel

Feeble vows of surrender

Aching urges cannot quell.

I still bring to you my beauty

And all my brokenness

Seeking your compassion

When the world seems merciless.

My scars , my doubts and all my flaws

I offer as gifts to you

Sanctify them Master

That I may love and live anew .