A Spiritual Hike: To Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery

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It was at twelve-thirty of a late June day

            with light showers through the sun’s soft rays,

we set out to climb on foot – the narrow, steep

             mountainous trail at Paro’s heart:

 driving past her white-pebble  lined arterial river Pachu –

             that flows eloquently through her rustic

frame, is then flanked by flower-lined cottages

            and bridges – on uphill picturesque paths.

 

After peering over numerous handicraft

            stalls displaying mostly stone-jewellery

of every colour and form, under the wood,

            and tin canopied shopping enclave –

we crossed it to step on to the narrow, rarely used trail:

            foregoing the broader, safer, beaten track –

people climb on colourfully dressed ponies

            or trudge uphill – to reach the fog draped

mysterious cliff: At 3,120 ft. above sea level –

            that cradling Bhutan’s holiest monastery

majestically beckons one to its amorous heart.

 

Wanting to save on time, we’ve risked

            a tedious climb, as our group of six –

of four local Bhutanese youth comprise:

            who’d take us up in two hours by a short-cut

instead of the ascertained three to four hours –

            reaching us well before the monastery gates

close at five – barring us from the peace

            of the sanctum we seek; relieving our sins  

as popularly believed – through the toil

             of the wearying, challenging climb.

 

I was excited over the first few yards, by

            the picturesque view of dainty bridges, tiny stupas,

also varied Rhododendron around hill-water crests

            from which by the hand-full we thirstily drank:

till a colourfully saddled,  rider-less horse –

            came gawkily strutting downhill;

with his coir reins in his front hoof entangling –

            he ensnared my attention, wilting my heart

with his helpless plight, to trot off straddling my steady breath –

             to gasp terminally the rest of the precipitous

 climb;  a native girl by hand, sturdily lugging me up.

 

After a three hour climb and a half-hour halt

            in steady drizzle – once Tiger Nest’s white stone walls,

 golden tiered roofs are visible: our Bhutanese friends

             now in respect drape their Gho and Kira

the traditional dress: as I bid my last dash of strength

            to press on, though my breath soon threatens to desist

on the final 350 steep stone steps – on which

            the air is so sharply thin and crisp

I gasp ominously – alarmed it’s my Death Whistle!

 

Once inside the temple, as if floating between life

             and death, I bow my head to the floor to Guru Rinpoche –

the patron sage, and this manifestations: till I interpret ‘nirvana’

            on viewing the mystical glow on Buddha’s striking golden face.

 

 

 

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