Bhutan’s culture is riddled with legends, folklore and a colorful history. So it certainly was no surprise to me to find it lucky as well. From the images of famous monks mysteriously showing up on the rocky sides of cliffs to the phallic symbols painted on houses, one never knew what to expect next. (both photos below show natural images of famous monks)
The Divine Madman is a personal favorite, also known as Lama Drukpa Kunley, and politely called the “fertility saint”. He is credited for enlightening many with his crazy methods and his penis is known as “the thunderbolt of flaming wisdom”. I was able to witness two young couples who came to the temple honoring him in the Punakha Valley who were ceremoniously seeking intervention.
While our tour included many monasteries and temples there was always something special at the end of the hike to the summit. The Nolanda Monastic School that houses around 100 young monks was both fun and uplifting! After looking in on the scholastic exercises, such as repetitive chants and debating, we were invited to tea with the head master. We sat for almost an hour, discussing current events, comparative religions and life in a monastery atop a high hill.
On the final day of my visit was the hike up to Tiger’s Nest. I think most everyone saves it for last as they are acclimatized to the altitude. As I am an eager hiker, my guide warned me against running and to stay on the inside, especially if a horse and rider were to be passed. Apparently there have been incidents where tourists have fallen to their death.
The path was tiring, sometimes precarious and quite scenic, when one wasn’t watching their feet. I was on my way down and stopped for a minute to take another photo when my eyes took in a friend from Argentina who was on his way up. I screamed his name in recognition loud enough for his friends further down the trail to come running up, thinking he had dropped off the side of the cliff or something. What a small world indeed!