05.04.2017

From the balcony of first floor of our home stay it felt as if we have been transported to a land of clouds. On the other side of the narrow road, just outside of the doorstep of homestay nothing could be seen. The valley, the trees, the hills beyond, the tiny houses everything was enveloped in the dense grey layers of clouds . We stepped outside. Walking on the gradually rising road felt like literally entering the clouds world. However as we approached closer, trees in the valley became a bit clear. At least we were able to make out the shapes of tall, cylindrical stems and fluttering prayer flags. Last evening we had seen a board of a ‘Chorten of lopenla’, [ Chorten means a Buddist shrine, a saint’s tomb ] the arrow directing towards valley. We decided to step down and explore the vicinity. Walking on the narrow,  gravel paths, stepping on the steps of rocks, running through silent forest gave birth to indescribable emotions….it always does……whose were the steps who first treadled on this path….who were the people who walked on this before us…..felt a kind of connection to all those who passed on that track before me…they made it easier for us to walk…. a bond of gratitude was established. Somehow that feeling made me happier.
After descending for some time we could see an enclosure housing a Stupa like structure and a bright colored room nearby. Rows of white, red, blue, yellow, green colored flags with prayers written on them were tied in a cris-cross way from one tree to another. The prayer flags fluttering rhythmically in a slow pace over our heads were as if showering blessings. We walked on silently and reached at the gate of enclosure.
The enclosure had a small gate which was latched from inside but could be opened from outside. However we stood outside enclosure silently looking at the Stupa with each one engrossed in thoughts of own when we heard a voice from inside the room, ‘ you can enter the enclosure.’ We went inside and by that time the owner of the voice a Buddhist monk too had stepped outside his room. He struck the conversation by asking the usual questions like….from which part of country had we come…..and then invited us to his living quarter……well, that was definitely a new experience for us. We had visited many monasteries in different parts of country before this and had a little bit of interaction with the monks in the premises but had never been to their living rooms.
He is known as Guru ji midst locals there. We had long intimate informal chat. He told us about his life….originally to which place he belongs, how he reached at that particular place, his Guru ji who earlier long back did penance on the spot and after he left for his heavenly abode Guru ji stayed back carrying on the legacy. We talked about his daily routine, travels, thoughts, beliefs, human life, present social changes, even recent political scenario of country. He also told us about a pond up there in hills somewhere in which  red colored flowers  bloom every year at a particular time and earlier locals used to climb upto the pond to pick up those flowers. That period was celebrated as local festival as inhabitants used to gather around the pond, stayed there and celebrated the occasion with folk songs and dances. It was considered an auspicious period. Still few locals go there but now the cultural fair is organized near the lake down. Now the three day cultural event has taken a modernized look though folk dances and songs by participants too are performed on podium.
Guruji also offered us hot, delicious tea prepared by him and chips,  papads fried by him. We were lucky to get prasad which was brought to him from Himalayas by his some fellow brethren.
He chatted with us in a very normal way. Nothing like imposing any rules, thrusting any gyan or establishing any supremacy yet his compassionate smile, the pious aura and fragrance had a kind of cleansing effect on us. In his presence we felt unburdened.
Travels bring us unexpected experiences, learnings and encounters and these enrich us for life time. That morning with Guru ji at Aritar will keep glowing inside me for ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pics copyright- Sunder Iyer

Wish I could have got to spend more time at Namdroling monastery. It is not the place for a whirlwind tourist excursion. Here you need to sit silently for hours and hours and just be. When in the monastery, I spent my maximum time in the Golden temple. Sitting quietly there with my eyes resting upon the imposing Buddha idol, I felt like strolling within myself. No, perhaps not even that rather a feeling of stillness and quietness pervaded my being. Sixty feet tall idol of Buddha flanked by Guru Padmasambhava and..Amitayush…….. in sparkling gold, white, red and green cloths looped and festooned in front of idols, colorful paintings and carvings on walls and pillars, pictures of the gurus high on the three sides of walls of hall and hoards of tourists entering and exiting, posing in front of idols, cameras and cell phones clicking, flashes shining……any of these things could have easily distracted me anywhere else but here as if all these things were a part of scheme and hushed calm prevailed above everything. Even the birds flying near the idols were not making noise. Many birds rested on the pillars and carvings around the main idols. We have always encountered those boards and planks with the inscription’ photography not allowed ‘ on almost every religious place like temples.Even at the places, which have almost nothing worth clicking such signboards are displayed. But at this magnificent seat of tranquility one can use camera freely and believe me these neither disturb nor distract.

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Inside the main temple in the monastery

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closer look of the idols

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dragon on the pillar

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Murals and paintings on the walls. Almost all the walls of all the three temples in the premises were covered with the bright colored paintings of mythological references. Wish could learn more about these. The book shop in the premises was closed at the time we visited otherwise may be could have got some book about their mythological tales and creatures.

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Entrance to the temple. These are the wooden beads hanging as a curtain.

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outside the main temple

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Another smaller temple in the premises. This had many prayer scriptures kept there lined, many instruments and was adorned with many symbols. Wish could learn more about those symbols.

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The long wind pipe looking instrument inside the temple. We were told monks blow it when prayers are conducted.

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A closer look of an instrument and prayer scriptures inside this temple.

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This is the first temple we behold while entering the monastery. The moment I laid my eyes on it, I stood there awestruck, resplendent in the afternoon sun, it’s high golden shikhar with the rainbow arch appeared to be in commune with the simmering blue sky above. It was not just splendid and magnificent. It beckons you to take into another world.

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inner view of this temple.

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another view of this temple

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The young disciple, walking towards his settlement. Many monks dressed in their traditional attires can be seen in temple premises, busy in their chores.

We visited Namdroling monastery while our way back from Coorg to Bangalore. Namdroling was established by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. He laid down the foundation stone of the three storeyed main temple and the place was consecrated by His Holiness Dalai lama. The name Namdroling was bequeathed to the monastery by him only. His holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche was the eleventh throne holder of Palyul lineage of Nyingma. He attained Niravana in 2009.

Namdroling monastery is located in Bylakuppe, which falls in Mysore district . Bylakuppe is approximately two hours by road from Mysore and about five hours or so from Bangalore. The nearest town Kushalnagar is about six Km from Bylakuppe.

Bylakuppe is a Tibetan settlement housing many monasteries, university, educational institutions and residential quarters. Way back in fifties when relations between Dalai Lama and Chinese government strained due to Tibet, he took political asylum in India and there was great exodus of Tibetans from Tibet to India. In 1961 the first Tibtan settlement Lugsung Samdupling was established in Bylakuppe to accommodate Tibetan refugees. As refugees from Tibet continued to come steadily, eight years later in 1969 another settlement Dickey Larsoe was established next to the first settlement. Now it is an important center of Tibetan Buddhists rather than a refugee settlement.

As we headed towards highway after visiting monastery, the colorful prayer flags fluttering in the cool wind over the houses, buildings, lanes and trees appeared to me , trying to stop me. I felt as if they are trying to tell me that there is a lot more to know and feel in this place.
We had a very short visit but the experience left an impact on me which I shall cherish for a long time. I definitely felt more at peace with myself.

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The present moment
contains past and future.
The secret of transformation,
is in the way we handle this very moment.
— Thich Nhat Hanh – Understanding Our Mind

Pics by Sunder Iyer