Varanasi III

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Varanasi III   Sarees seem to be a major industry here. I never saw so many shops. Some of them advertise their factories as well. In the middle of all my temple-hopping tour, we stopped and met an elderly small … Continue reading

Varanasi II: The Hindu Riviera

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The predominant experience of Varanasi is the permanently precarious nature of it, the common tightrope-walk hardly distinguishing between multiple near-death experiences occurring multiple times a day and the ongoing spiritual restoration. I also notice that I am not worried about … Continue reading

Varanasi I

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My train from Kolkata was two hours late. But no matter, I thought. I’m here. Though I had little idea what “here” meant. It was dark. I found my way out of the train station, knowing I would encounter enterprising … Continue reading

Jokhang

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For a couple of days already before entering the Jokhang Temple, I had become familiar with the human traffic around it because my hotel was so close. The commercial scene, the human traffic and the security presence are all permanent … Continue reading

Ganden & Norbulakhang

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Although Ganden is one of the six principal Gelug monasteries in Tibet (of which I have now visited 5) and the location of Tsongkapa’s burial stupa, its distinctive feature is not so much what’s inside the grounds, but what’s outside. … Continue reading

Chimph’u and Samye: Expect the Unexpected

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 As I planned this trip some months ago, I learned of a special event at Samye Monastery on July 9. My request to the tour agency scheduling my activities was that regardless of any other activities, they should plan for … Continue reading

Dissolution into the Indivisible

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I walked inside the temple, darkened and silent, completely undisturbed; I noticed the colors, the familiar designs, the empty seats marked by the heavy woolen robes resting like ghosts on the benches, the teaching throne. Everything in its place. Only … Continue reading

The Pinnacle: Shongsep Nunnery and Gangri Tokar

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  For various reasons we had to juggle my itinerary for a couple of days. But I was insistent that I would not give up Gangri Tokar, the site of Longchenpa’s (1308-1363) hermitage cave. This is one of the main … Continue reading

Tsurphu

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The approach to Tsurphu is a slow winding 20+ km climb through the green Dowo valley through which the Tsurphu Chu tumbles, or should I say roars, from the higher elevations. The road has been improved a great deal in … Continue reading