Monday, September 20, 2010

Caution: I’m not preparing on writing a travel journal here. It’s another thing that I share the passion of backpacking, trekking and writing on the colossal experiences gained while taking each walk. However, today I’m on an attempt to share my recent experience walking on a virtuous march. It was a straightforward suggestion one of my friend who is currently working as an ICT officer in the same office recommended me to pen down my experience in writing. So I thought maybe I could actually write my first one apart from my regular official tour report.

The nature of my job demands lots of travelling at this stage of my career ladder. More of village tours which requires pretty much of energy to hike and rare ex-country tours (But I’m not complaining!).

On the 14th of September 2010, work kicked right after breakfast at around eight in the morning. A team of three including myself, Aue Wangchuck and Dimpoen Chandra Lal Limbu was all set for site verification of Aazha Thinley’s house evidently attacked by a bear at Yobo. Little did I know that we would be also making a trip to Goensephu (more on this later).

It’s about an hour drive from Khuruthang towards Gasa to the road point (the place is known as Tshorimo) from which the walk starts, after descending down to cross the female river (Mo Chhu) over the longstanding suspension bridge. Thereafter, it is a steep climb upwards to the destination: Yobo village. I was told that it usually took about two and a half hours to reach Goensephu Monastery. No, I wasn’t discouraged by the hours that I had to walk. I have learned and believed that at the end of the day, I would ultimately get the immense satisfaction unknown at that point of time. I was sure that I would be able to witness the worth of my breathless moments upon reaching my destination.

The background score for the entire hike was titled “natural” by various artist viz., river, wind, brook, birds, leaves and insects. For the whole day, I was away from Gaga, Maya, Perry, Lovato, Heap, JaySean, Cruz, Rihanna, Guetta, Scherzinger, Timbaland, Cyrus (my-comrades-when-alone), yet I didn’t feel like I missed them. I must say I didn’t miss my favorite playlist, not even for a moment. The weather God favored us by not playing the big boss, to not let it rain. It led me inanely wondering if this was going to be effortless. Everything was so perfect minus my short breaths and frequent urge for respite. We were welcomed by Aazha Thinley with tea and zoaw at Phaenga Pokto, supposed to be the resting point. We were quite proud of the progress we had made. It took us almost two hours from the road head till Chakazhing (a village before reaching proper Yobo) where we had our early lunch at Aazha Thinley’s newly constructed house. We were full of vigor again; all set to finish off the march.

While my feet walloped audaciously over the mucky mule track, about half a score of the determined leeches climbed up my mud-soaked boots. Fortunately Dimpoen Limbu chivalrously plucked them off for me. The climbing and plucking session went about for an hour which brought us to Yobo, our primary purpose for the visit. (I would like to skip the official agenda).

With Aazha Thinley in front of his house in Yobo

As soon as we finished off our site verification, spirits still high, we planned on visiting Goensephu monastery. All through my stay here in Punakha elders have spoken reverently of the place. I had always wanted to visit the place since then; it was just that I didn’t get an opportunity to. Time was the factor that always decided my plan. And today when we got the chance after coming this far, we didn’t want to return back not visiting this sacred place. Another hour’s walk of yet again plodding through the mud brings us to Goensephu.

“And there, ahead of you, is the holy Goensephu”, Aue Wangchuk said with a sweaty yet glowed face. It started to drizzle after that. “When it rains, it’s considered as an auspicious sign”, said Aazha Thinley teasing me that being the only female in the group, I must have carried the good luck (Oh! How I wish I did). With each rain drop falling on our head and auguring propitious omens, we were feeling content and blessed. We couldn’t have wished more than that. Today as I write in some incomprehensible way, I feel as if Goensephu had done this just to welcome us. I bowed my head and made my prayers. It was great to see Guru sitting happily at home. It’s amazing how our culture is so rich and of course inexplicable in its own ways serving as a source of inspiration to many like me.


It is said about the Place that, while Guru Rinpochoe (Padmasambhava) was meditating in Maratika Cave (in Nepal), Khandum Yeshey Tshogyel’s requested him to visit the place. Upon Khandum’s request, he is said to have visited the place in some eighth century where he mediated for two months in a cave (the present monastery site) and blessed the place with spring water (Drubchu) for long life. The legend has it, the caves of Maratika and Goensephu is said to be incomparable in terms of the blessings. The caves are a venerated site of pilgrimage associated with Guru Rinpochoe, Khandum Yeshey Tshogyel’s and longevity. Many pilgrims visit this site in the quest for long life.

Tshe Yi Bumpa

Inside the cave, there is a stone shaped like Bumpa (Tshe Yi Bumpa), the Ambrosia water from which is supposed to bestow long life upon whoever drinks it. Inside the monastery, there are about twelve books of scriptures for long life (Tshe Yi Paychha). When you climb a big rock above the cave, you get to see Guru Rinpochoe’s hearth (Thap). Disappointingly it was so slippery I couldn’t climb up the rock to see myself this time. Inside the cave, you can also see twenty one seats of White Tara (Jetsun Dolma), also known for compassion, long life, healing and serenity. Outside the Monastery, on a big rock you can see the Aah born naturally (Aah Rangjung). I hope my pictures speaks a thousands words too.

Aah Rangjung, can you see it?

After paying our homage to all these important sites, I bid farewell to the Khenyger and Anims. I’m still content and more than happy to have tripped this holy site. With the remaining verve, we walked down the track. Until I saw it from a distance, I quietly turned back and made a prayer to come back soon and this time with you.
With the Host

I love visiting religious places. There’s always this encompassing peace, positivity and serenity about them in disparity with our avaricious world. You see, like I mentioned in the beginning, for every footstep that we took, for every time we ran out of breath, for every sweat that dropped, for every moment that we felt like giving up, for every discomfort we endured the entire day, the walk was worth. I consider myself lucky when work can make you feel this way: truly happy. I’m counting my blessings! Clearly a day off was not on the cards the next day, however, I could only wish for an unwinding night that evening while returning tired back home.

I’m planning to visit the Monastery again to see Guru Rinpochoe’s Thap before I get posted somewhere else. Till then, muster up the energy to walk with me. What say? I say let’s WALK ON!

Climber, JC

PS. Next time we walk that road together, I mean TOGETHER, you and me!!!


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