Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Leaving Paro

As we left Paro we took the opportunity to squeeze in a few more sites and learn more about Bhutan. Our final act at the motel was to photograph the lotus flower that graced our ceiling.

We stopped at Kyichi Lhakhang a temple dating to the 7th century with 19th century additions. Each side had a long stretch of prayer wheels. I asked how many there were but didn’t get an answer. I wasn’t about to count. Other than turning a wheel by just grabbing and turning the base of a wheel (more tiring than it looks), some pilgrims turn the wheel via ropes and pulleys. (The explanation for this picture came from the Lonely Planet.)

We were allowed to take photographs in the temple. If we had known that photography usually explicitly forbidden we would have taken more. The decorations are made by the monks from butter, dye, and sugar and last up to three years. We saw similar decorations in all the temples and the smell of butter verified their content.  Not shown in our picture are the bowls of water to quench thirst of the temple’s deities and the oil lamps to light the way to heaven that were on the “alter.”

Before we headed to Thimphu we took a short trip toward the Haa Valley. As we drove off we had a last view of the Dzong over padi fields.

The next stop was a chain bridge. The bridge was built in 2005 using some chains from a 15th century bridge. The “donor bridge” was the last survivor of 8 chain bridges built by Tangtorig Gyalpo (1385-1464) in Bhutan.  This recent version of a chain bridge looked shaky and forbidding. A few meters up the road is its more stable, and more used, bridge. The chain bridge is largely used by adventurous children.

Further up the road this scenic area was at one time the site for capital punishment. Persons convicted of particularly heinous crimes were put in a sack and thrown off a cliff. Their bodies were then left for nature to dispose of.

The sign “sorry for the inconvenience caused” frequently appears in Malaysia by broken equipment and temporarily closed shops. Here is a Bhutanese version.

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