Into the Land of Thunder Dragon : Bhutan Travelogue - Paro 2

Rinpung Dzong was rebuilt by Ngawang Rinpoche in seventeenth century. Earlier it’s much smaller version used to be known as Hungrel Dzong, built by Lama Drung Drung Gyal. Rinpung means ‘heaps of jewels’. It is said that most of the treasures stored at Paro Dzong were destroyed in the fire that took place in 1907.

Until now what I enjoyed the most in Paro besides the picturesque beauty was its absolute serenity. Number of (stupid) tourists was evidently much less here, and most of them were two fifty dollars gang. Dumb Bengalis were nowhere to be seen. However we spotted a South Indian group where the two females were wearing thick woollen gloves. The temperature must be in the vicinity of 15 degree Celsius that time. No comment.

The iconic cantilever bridge of Paro with Paro Dzong at the back. The building at the farthest corner is the Paro Museum
We also visited the museum on our way but that place is hardly worth mentioning here. And you won’t enjoy the museum tour unless you are well conversant with Tibetan Buddhism. I had read the Tibetan Book of Dead and I could only just suppress my joy after seeing those funeral ritual masks on display.

We were driving past the outstretched valley of Paro and I started daydreaming while looking out the window. I always daydream as a matter of fact. The reason behind my reticent appearance is owing to my brain that is always too busy to concoct stories in order to comfort my worn out soul. My thoughts always manifest themselves into a series of moving pictures. And in that moment I pictured myself sitting in the field in front of one of those little houses in the distance - with my man sitting beside me holding my hand. I couldn't see his face though - I know if I had tried too hard it might have ended up resembling Tom Hiddleston's. :D What wouldn't I give in exchange for a quiet, peaceful life like that? That too with someone I am in love with? Alas. In my case, it literally seems like a fairytale - purely imaginary and absolutely impossible to happen in real life.

Our next stop was Kyichu Lhakhang – one of the oldest monasteries of Bhutan. Like any other ancient monastery, Kyichu Lhakhang also has a very interesting history that borders on being mythical. When it comes to religious history of any civilisation, it is astonishing that how often the very nature of the story crosses the fine line between history and myth and gives it a mystic aura that even after hundreds of years it plays a pivotal role in determining the moral character of an entire community. The only difference is that, some write literature or build great temples and some form terrorist organisations to suppress and belittle others.

Legend says, once upon a time (to be precise that time was 659AD) a giant demoness was lying all across Tibet and the Himalayas hindering the spread of Buddhism in the area. In order to subdue the demoness, the great king of Tibet Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples on each point of her body and Kyichu Lhakhang was built on the left foot of the ogress. It is said that Kyichu Lhakhang was one of the 12 temples of the king’s ‘108 temple’ mission that were built overnight.

These orange trees are said to bear fruit all throughout the year
So far I met the friendliest monk at Kyichu Lhakhang. The old man had a craggy, ever-smiling face that evoked an instant feeling of happiness in me. He was very keen to strike a conversation with me and I felt likewise. However, he did not speak a word of English. For the next few minutes I had absolutely no idea what we were discussing. But both of us were using various hand gestures to convey our points to the other. I asked him about the deities of the temple and he pointed at various idols pronouncing their respective names but I could only catch fragments of those words. He also handed me an apple from the plate of offering and well, what can I say more, the gesture brought tears to my eyes. His Holiness Dalai Lama aptly said that nothing could beat the Dharma of kindness. A young monk soon came to our rescue and started interpreting our conversation. Thanks to him I could finally tell my dear old man that I was from Calcutta.

That day I went home with the blessings of all the gods of Bhutan in the guise of an apple. And I needed that as the next day was going to be the red-letter day of the trip.

To be continued