Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bhutan trip day 18 – Sun, 22 Sep 2013 – Visiting Lhakhangs and Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) in Bumthang - Part 1

I supposed to go to Bumthang on Thursday, 19 Sep. Due to unavailability of the bus ticket I could only go there on Friday. Also, since one whole day had been spent for picnic, it left me with only one day to browse around Bumthang. Since I had to go back to Singapore on 25th Sep morning, I had to return to Thimphu on 23rd Sep. Therefore, Suneet (Riku’s brother-in-law) had tried his best to arrange the itinerary to bring me around, based on the list of the places that I showed him.

While waiting for the rest to get prepared, I walked alone to Chamkar city, which was only five-minute walk from the place where I stayed. I walked all the way up to the bridge, bought some tidbits and snacks, took some phallus pictures that were displayed openly outside many shops, and returned back home. It’s a small town but surrounded with beautiful mountains and valley.

Chamkar town, Bumthang
Since I wanted to go to Lhakhang, Bhutanese had to wear their national clothes, gho and kira. Muna sis had kindly lent her beautiful golden color tego and her handmade new weaved kira for me. I told her to just lend me the used and normal kira, but she insisted me to wear her new creation as she said it looked nice on me. Hehehe… Kadinche-la Muna sis :)
Well, we finally departed together with Kedar and his families. Our first place to visit was Kurjey Lhakhang (Body Imprint Monastery).  There were three temples there and the whole area was surrounded by 108 chorten (stupa) walls.

Visiting Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang
The first temple, called Guru Lhakhang, located on the right side, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the first Governor of Trongsa. Inside here, there was a cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated there to subdue the local deity in 8th century and left the imprint of his body on the rock.

The second temple, called Sampa Lhundrup Lhakhang was built by King Ugyen Wangchuk in 1900, while the third temple was built in 1990 by Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuk, the Queen Mother. Above the monastery, there was a tall Cypress tree, which they believed it was grown from Guru Rinpoche’s walking stick (see the photo above - middle left side).

Near the entrance, there were stones with a small crawl-through in the middle. Bhutanese believed that if you were able to pass through that hole, then your sins would be gone (see the photo above - top right side). I was too big size for that hahaha…

After coming out from there, we walked up at about 5 minutes to get the holy water. When we reached, there were many jerry cans lining up towards the pipe where the holy water came out (see the photo above - below right side). Since we only brought a smaller bottle, I asked permission from people who were waiting if we could get our water without further waiting. Luckily they allowed, so we didn’t have to wait so long :)

Visiting Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang
Next destination, Jambay Lhakhang. This place was the one that I wanted to visit most in Bumthang since it was another one of the oldest monastery built in Bhutan. It was built in the 7th century, by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo and this was one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region, same with Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro.

I felt blessed being able to visit this temple. Thank you for the good karma :) Inside the Lhakhang, there were three stone steps, which represented ages. First step represented the past, the age of Historical Buddha, which is Sakyamuni Buddha. This step had come down to the ground and was covered with wooden plank. The second one represented the present and was at the same level with the floor. The last one represented the new age. It was believed that when the step that represented the present age sunk to the ground level, the Gods would become like human and the world would end.

The inner part was different from Kyichu Lhakhang as there was a place for us to circumambulate the main temple before going to the centre part of the temple.

You know what? In this Lhakhang, I met the two brothers, Changa and Chuddu. Read more about their story here. I had never met them before this. Only knew them by reading the blog posted by Riku quite long time ago, so I couldn’t really remember how they looked like, and forgot their names too. Before leaving to Bumthang, Riku had already told me to find them in town area. 

Met Changa and Chuddu brothers in Jambay Lhakhang, Bumthang
So, whenever I walked around the Lhakhang, I saw both of them. I called Riku immediately asking him about these two brothers’ names. Once he told me, I was asking someone who was standing nearby both of them to ask them what their names were. When they said their names, ahhh… I guessed correctly then! Wow!! What a coincidence to be able to meet them there!!! :) Like what Riku wrote in his blog, "These two brothers murmured, exchanged smiles to each other, and walked so buoyantly, as if they might have their own language and wisdom (understanding the essence of life and happiness)."

Picking up 'marip'
Once done, we left the place. We went to pick another friend, Nila and his families from his house. While waiting, Nikita and Lachee were attracted from picking up small round shape fruits from the trees located next to our car. I never saw this kind of fruit before. It was called ‘Marip’. It was sweet and there was seed inside. Kedar went and cut few branches and gave it to us to have it in easier way rather than plucking the fruit one by one. We just ate the fruit like that, without washing it. Hahaha… another thing to learn from Bhutan ;)

Mebar Tsho or Burning Lake in Tang Valley, Bumthang
Next, we went to visit Mebar-Tsho (Burning Lake). It was located in Tang valley, one of the most sacred sites in the region (also one of the holiest lakes in Bhutan) as it related to the renowned Terton Pema Lingpa, who discovered the sacred treasure that Guru Rinpoche hid within the lake many years back. He was considered as incarnated disciple of Guru Padmasambhava, holding a butter lamp in his hand, jumped into the lake, and several hours later he came back holding a scroll of paper with the butter lamp still burning bright. That was how the name of the lake coming from.

The importance of this site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and the small clay offerings called 'Tse Tsa' in rock niches.

This was how we looked the Mebar Tsho from the top :)
To see the lake from top, we had to lie down on the stone as it was quite high and they scared us falling down. There were few cases happening before where people fell down accidentally and died. Since I went there wearing kira and with a large group of people, I didn’t have chance to get a closer look of the lake from below, otherwise I would like to stay longer and feel the tranquility of the lake closer. Anyway, I was lucky enough having chance to go there. Thank you everyone for bringing me there :)

Lunch break - picnic style. Oh.. loving it so much!!! :)
Once done, we stopped at one place and had our lunch picnic on the roadside. Oh… that’s what I wanted to experience in Bhutan too. Seemed like they know what I want, although I never voiced my heart out to them :) Kids ate using their hands. Once we finished, it was the crows turn to eat our food balance on the grass hehehe….

Continue the journey at part 2 here :) 


Riku said...

Nice post. You are very lucky!

Yeesi7 said...

You had one hell of a journey in Bumthang. It is good to know so much of the places through your post. I have heard of it but never got a chance to visit those holy places.
Thanks for sharing!
Looking forward to visit Bumthang in future :)

Overcome Life said...

Thank you!

Overcome Life said...

Thank you for your comment! You will surely have a chance to visit Bumthang and stay longer there :)

Rupa Gurung said...

You are very lucky maam... Nice post.

Overcome Life said...

Thank you for your kind words Rupa :) Have a nice day!

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