Tuesday, April 22, 2008

About a Monastery

The quaintest Buddhist monastery I have seen is tucked away in a corner of a tiny village called Tsokha in the picturesque state of Sikkim. Tsokha is a village that exists only for the purpose of adventure tourism - located at a height of 9000-10,000 ft, it is one of the halts on the popular Dzongri – Goecha La treks. All Tsokha has is a few houses, a camp-site, three shacks that call themselves ‘cafes’ and sell trinkets and snacks to trekkers, a lot of itinerant trekkers – most of them firangs, and the aforementioned monastery.

The monastery is situated on top of a hillock that is adjacent to a small lake. In order to reach the monastery, one has to walk across the lake on a makeshift bridge made of rickety wooden logs stretched out over blocks of stone placed in the water – this minor adventure adds to the overall charm of the visit.

Tied to the trees bordering the lake, stretching out across and around it, are strings of prayer flags in the usual five colours – yellow, green, red, white, blue; the bright colours a vivid contrast against both the blue-white cotton-cloud sky and the dull green waters of the lake in which they are reflected.

Near the lake is a small meadow that has horses grazing on it. Occasionally a horse strays into the monastery grounds and nibbles on the grass there – the doors to the monastery are closed and barred in order to prevent the horses from entering the building. The only sounds to be heard at the monastery are the gentle tinkle of the bells around the horses’ necks and the fluttering of the prayer flags in the wind. Occasionally one hears the reluctant rumble of the row of rusty prayer wheels along the monastery’s walls as they are rotated by a visitor.

To the right of the monastery is a small path which curves around it, and which if followed, leads one to a hillside covered with trees bearing red rhododendron flowers and white magnolias. Amongst the trees and bushes dart a multitude of birds, chirruping and tweeting softly. The only other sound is the muted roar of a waterfall, visible in the distance on another hill.

While I was there, I did consider taking a few photographs of the monastery and its surroundings, but finally decided against it as no photograph could do justice to the beauty, tranquility and serenity of the place.

Zenobia D. Driver


Aqua said...

does such a place really exist?
zen, when did you go there? yr description of the place is awesome. yr post was almost like a incomplete short story. i wish there was more....

Entropy said...

Hi Aqua,
Yes, both Tsokha and the monastery really exist. Just returned from there last week.

Now that I reread the post, it does sound like the background to a short story. Let me think of a story to add to it to complete it.


Aqua said...

yay!!! get on with the writing girl!