Rice fields and empty lands

Bhutan travelogue: Chapter 13 | Read other chaptersSee photo gallery

Enjoying the rural landscape of Bhutan

The monastery of the Divine Madman, called Chimi Lhakhang, about 20-minute walk from the main road from Punakha to Thimphu. The trail to the monastery is very enjoyable as it passes through rural settlements, farmlands, an archery ground, little rivulets, etc. before reaching the hill over which the monastery is built. Time stopped here, and we spent about 3 hours on this 20-minute trail, soaking up the sun on this beautiful landscape, and even getting lost for a moment.

↑ Pana settlement on the way to Chimi Lhakhang

‘Kuzuzangbo la!’ कुझुझांग्बो ला was the first Bhutanese word I learnt. It means Hello. (‘झ’ is taken from Marathi, the ‘z’ sound.)

↑ A typical rural house. Who said they had huts in villages?

It’s quite a long greeting and I started experimenting my accent on the villagers. I began saying it to anyone that passed us and after failing a couple of times, I got the sounds right. People are unbelievably delighted when they hear a foreigner speaking their language, I’m sure many of you have experienced this.

They responded in various ways….
Me: “Kuzu zangbo la!”
Old lady (smiled after a puzzled look): Zangbohhhh…
Young man: Kuzu kuzu!
Some woman: zangbo la…
Kids: Hello! Hi! (and lots of enthusiastic waving) 🙂

So after greeting about a dozen passerby’s I concluded that saying ‘zangbo… la’ was enough!

↑ Spinning the prayer wheel at a shrine. On the top right side of the picture is the Chimi Monastery

The settlements were tiny and spread out. As a city person, I love the relaxed pace and calm feeling of a village. There were two settlements – Pana and Yoaka – on the way to Chimi Lakhang which itself was located on a hill that looked like woman’s breast. Not surprising considering that it was built for the divine madman!

↑ Lamas walking towards the monastery

At the end of the villages and on the foothills of the monastery is a large archery field. At that place, I felt as if time had stopped. There was the sound of the wind and flowing river, and occasionally a bird would pass by. Before us was a beautiful huge valley and your eyes could see till infinity, really! Since the weather was perfect, there was no time restriction, we sat on the dry grass and did nothing but get lost in the nature.

↑ Walking through rice paddies reminded me of the red rice from Bhutan

I may not have seen something new or experienced something unique, but this simple and uneventful location was probably one of the highlights of my Bhutan trip.