The thing about Monasteries is that you go to one and all others seem similar. Even in the pictures, it is difficult to make out one from the other, especially if the architecture is the same. However, if you look closely, there are subtle differences.
For example, the Rumtek Monastery was full of action, though the surroundings weren't too scenic despite it being in the mountains. Moreover, because it has been at the center of a lot of politics, it also stands out because of the tight security. The Dali Monastery in Darjeeling stood out because of the awesome cafeteria and little monks who play on the terrace. Among these Monasteries, Gonjang stood out for the scenic beauty and a general sense of peace pervading the grounds.
When we reached the monastery it was already late afternoon and a gentle drizzle had started. It was cool and refreshing. We were set to return to the mall road after this to plan for the next day, and wanted to spend some time at this last stop.
The monastery sits cozy in the lap of the Himalayas and the gentle mountain breeze brings with it the fragrance of the surrounding forest and the songs of myriad birds that stay hidden, just out of sight, enticing the listeners with their calls. But the bird songs soon faded away, or may be they became a part of the symphony that was just about to start.
Minutes after we reached, a prayer started, and the chants were accompanied by sounds of the various instruments. If you haven't heard Buddhist prayers in progress, you will probably not be able to relate to this thought, but the music seems to seek out your soul from the very depth of your being. It is haunting and mesmerizing.
And the sound! It wasn't quiet, yet it was peaceful. When you are there and the prayers are in progress, you cannot think of anything else. I guess that too is a form of meditation. It helps you connect to yourself and to the natural world around you. I stood there for quite some time though the drizzle was gradually transforming into a steady rain.
Even after the prayers completed, the crowd stayed quiet, as if people were afraid to break sacred connection that had been established. It was strange to see so many people around and yet almost complete silence. All except the songs of the birds who had resumed their individual performances.
We came out of the Gonjang Monastery feeling light and refreshed, though a little wet. If I think of it now, I am so glad we made this stop. If we had followed our brains, which were telling us "you see one monastery, you've seen them all", we would have carried on and missed Gonjang. It does pay to follow your intuition at times.
If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -
1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins.
2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.
5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite