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Bhutan: Kunzangdrak Monastery

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Kunzangdrak Monastery | Bhutan | Asia

[Visited: October 2009]

After having walked up to Petsheling monastery, butter tea with the lama, and a beautiful walk over the ridge of the mountain from which Kunzangdrak, our next destination, was always visible, we had a lunch break near the river. After that, we had to say goodbye to our female companion, who had been suffering too much hiking up the mountain, and we were back to hiking up at full speed. At times, we did not immediately see the right trail and cut right through the landscape - always climbing. It was obvious that the climb would not be easy: Kunzangdrak seemed pretty close, but that was just because the mountain here was steep.

Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Looking up Kunzangdrak monastery from below

Nevertheless, reaching Kunzangdrak Goemba proved easier than we expected, and we stopped for a little while at the entrance door, so our sweat could evaporate a little bit and we would not look too bad for the monks. Once inside, we walked around the central lhakhang with its prayer wheels, and continued to one of the most important buildings of the Kunzangdrak complex: Khandroma Lhakhang. My guide proudly told me how this building could only have been built by some superhuman being: the way it was constructed against the steep rock face, the way it fit in perfectly with its rough surroundings, and of course - like all Bhutanese buildings, this one was built without a nail. Holy water seeps down the rock face.

Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Looking up Kunzangdrak from below

The famous Pema Lingpa, prominent figure in the history of Bhutanese Buddhism, who has left several sites of importance in the region, like the Burning Lake, is said to have built Kunzangdrak himself in 1488. The monastery contains various relics of high importance for Bhutanese as they represent the famed saint. One of the most important relics is a gilded stone with an imprint of his footprint. My guide told me how he considered taking his parents here for a few days of retreat and meditation, and I could only imagine how being here for a couple of days would have a refreshing influence. Just when I was about to drink some water as I was thirsty after our ascent, my guide emptied the bottle and filled it with holy water the monk gave him. On our way down, during which we almost ran down, we sometimes drank a little of that holy water - and safely arrived at the junction close to the Burning Lake where our trustworthy driver was waiting for us.

Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Near the entrance of Kunzangdrak
Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): View towards the valley from Kunzangdrak
Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Wooden prayer wheels in bright colours at Kunzangdrak
Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Wooden window frame in building at Kunzangdrak
Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Chorten next to a building at Kunzangdrak
Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Monastic buildings clinging to the cliffs
Picture of Kunzangdrak Monastery (Bhutan): Khandroma Lhakhang, sacred building at Kunzangdrak

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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