Tag Archives: Journey

Jokhang Temple, Lhasa – A Beautiful Journey to the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism

By Lakshmi:

No visit to Lhasa could be considered complete without a stop at one of the holiest sites in all of Tibet – the Jokhang Temple.

And so one morning, we headed out on a pilgrimage to the heart of Tibetan Buddhism.  As we approached the square housing the temple, we passed by many rows of shops that sold everything from prayer wheels and incense to mandala paintings and little statues.  This was so similar to the scene you encounter en route to a Hindu temple, with one slight difference that made us smile.  We saw Buddhist monks shopping for textiles and instead of walking on, we stood there just gawking at this trio, pretending to shop so we appeared discreet.

As we got closer we saw people throwing juniper leaves into huge clay burners, leading to the air smelling of juniper incense.  The smell was evocative of the scent of incense sticks at Hindu temples.  And what we saw next was identical to a scene I have experienced at many a temple since my childhood.  We saw adults, children, the elderly all prostrating repeatedly in front of the temple.  Some were doing it a few times, many several hundred or thousand times and a few for several days too.  This was indeed the best visual depiction of devotion.

After circumambulating the temple a few times, we walked in and encountered swarms of people smiling with warmth and genuineness towards us.  The children were enthralled by Sathya, since she was petite and they kept looking in her direction and smiling.  The Gods could not have extended a warmer welcome to us.

The temple was dimly lit with yak butter lamps and in this dimly lit space we saw many of the jewels.  The many paintings, the holy statue of Sakyamuni, statues of King Songtsem Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng and Princess Bhrikuti and of course the Dharma Wheel.  There was one other realization that dawned on us as we observed the swarm of faces dimly lit by the lamps…there was a look of genuine contentment painted across the spectrum, and any hardships or troubles that existed seemed lifetimes away within this place of worship.

We proceeded to the top from where we got some beautiful views of Barkhor Square and the throng of worshippers lining to come inside.

As we walked away from the temple towards another line of shops beyond the square, we were awakened into reality with a poster of Aishwarya Rai, the Indian movie actress.  And in the distance we heard hindi music playing.  But my spiritual journey was not yet complete.  It was completed when I saw and got a silver Tibetan Ganesha, the only one of its kind sitting at a table among the many Buddha statues.

To learn more about visiting the Jokhang Temple, click here:

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/tibet/lhasa-jokhang-temple

Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon – A Hot, Challenging Hike

Grand Canyon View

By Lakshmi:

The Grand Canyon is one of those truly beautiful places chiseled by nature whose spellbinding beauty simply leaves you speechless.  Throughout your time there, you cannot but help admire the hues, textures and formations created over several million years.

We had heard that hiking at least one trail in the Canyon was the best way to experience the richness of what it had to offer, including the rugged rock formations and the amazing vistas.  So, when the Park Service recommended Bright Angel Trail as a good hiking option for those with a day to spare, we decided to experience it.

The trail is called a “maintained dirt trail” and is steep.  In fact, as you approach the start of the trail, you are met with a warning sign about how an experienced  hiker met her end on the journey due to the lack of water.  There are ample warnings to bring adequate water.

With two large water bottles in our possession, we felt ready to tackle the 1.5 mile stretch in each direction.  As we commenced our walk, it felt fairly easy-going downhill and we stopped periodically to just admire the views, especially since with every bend, it seemed like the view was a bit different.  Slowly the walk got harder and more slippery.  We stopped to chug plenty of water and maybe 30 minutes into our hike, one of our two bottles of water was done.

The heat and the dryness contributed to some intense thirst and to keep ourselves hydrated, we also sucked on the Starburst candy that we had adequate reserves of.

Somewhere along our hike, Siddhi led the way and climbed an area which was very tough to get to and impossible to climb without a lot of  maneuvering .  We all followed and while we were greeted with some spectacular scenery, we realized that we were horribly lost.  The vision of having little water and being stranded somewhere on this trail seemed very real.

Luckily, presence of mind and the ability to track down people’s voices put us back on track and soon we were at the 1.5 mile point rest area.  We were tired and thirsty.  And despite being fairly fit, the hike was tiring.  Just then, the person next to us commented that coming down was easy, but going up was treacherous.

After a brief rest stop, we commenced our upward climb.  This time, the water was being guzzled down more frequently and soon we were out of it completely.  The path was slippery and treacherous.  And we each had to make short stops at different times to maintain our endurance and keep climbing.  We had some gum that we chewed on, but the need for water was intense.  Without the water, our only hope was to keep at it so that soon we would come close to water and civilization.

I have to say that the last 45 minutes of this uphill climb felt like it lasted an eternity.   Every bit of energy we had was sapped and drained and all four of us desperately needed hydration.  Suffice it is to say that when we got back up and got our first bottle of water, we looked back and smiled that we had completed this trail.

If you ever find yourself in the Grand Canyon and want to hike a trail, do listen to the advice offered and carry more water than you think you will need.

To learn more about the Bright Angel Trail, click here.

http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/BrightAngelTrail.pdf