Tuesday September 11, 2012: spiritual sightseeing
Today is our last day in Manali. Tomorrow at dawn we’ll leave for Delhi, and Thursday evening we’ll board back to Europe. Tenzin wants to take us to a Nyingma monastery close to Patlikuhl, 30kms south from Manali. Nyingma is the oldest of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
We take our time in the morning. We know that this is our last breakfast together. Tomorrow we’ll have to leave before sunrise. So now we enjoy the ties of family and friendship, and an extensive breakfast. The cloudy hills around Manali, offer us once more the look of misty deodars, as if posing for the background of a Zen poem.
By 10.30am we leave. Forty minutes later, in the center of Patlikuhl, we take a narrow road leading up the hills surrounding the valley of the Beas river. Another 15 minutes and we park our car. Not far below us we discover the yellow roof of a recently built temple.
At the same time we notice that this is a construction site. Some houses are being erected near the monastery – living quarters for the nuns and monks. This is Thinlay’s monastery. The buildings are really hanging on the hill, 250 meters above the valley. I notice that the Beas has dug two valleys, one inside the other. There is a U-shaped valley, carved out by the Beas glacier when it went far down during the most recent ice-age. Into its glacial deposit (boulder clay) we see a V-shaped valley, dug out by the wild river, as it exists today.
For Google Earth and satnav fans: we are now at these coordinates 32°08’59.43″_N 77°09’39.23″_E alt_1665m
The monastery (gompa in Tibetan) was erected in honour of the saint H. E. Khenchen Thupten Ozer Mewa who died in september 2000. Tenzin met the saint several times. Kenchen used to pray and meditate for more than a decade in his cave where he got enlightened. On top of the cave they recently built the gompa’s stupa.
Tenzin feels a lot of energy emanating from this place, and talks about the time when his father brought him here.
He guides us around and shows us the beautiful temple (for celebrations and ritual ceremonies), a luxurious prayer room (for prayer and teaching) and a stupa of enlightenment(used by secular people for prayer and meditation).
Our guided tour ends in the refectory room, where we are offered a generous and tasty vegetarian meal. A lot of rice and dahl, and also some beans and things I had never seen before.
Tenzin and Thinlay are invited to a ‘staff meeting’ and Tashi, Sofie and I take the time to enjoy the local flora and fauna. We take a path on the hill, not steep, and surrounded by thousands of apple trees.
The apples are ripe. We pick one for each of us, and eat them. I cannot remember having eaten any apple as tasty as this one in my entire life.
Nature can be beautiful here:
When returning to the gompa, we see with our own eyes how difficult it can be to construct anything up here …
We drive home round 4pm and celebrate our last evening with friends and family in Manali …