May the new year shine as bright as ever,
Happy New Year 2018!
May the new year shine as bright as ever,
Happy New Year 2018!
For centuries Mount Kailas is known as the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Asia. It is common for pilgrims to circumambulate the sacred mountain, commonly called Kora (Pilgrimage Circuit) or Parikrama. Often pilgrims encompass both the Mansarovar Lake and Mt. Kailas in a quest to wash away the sins of their life time.
Mt. Kailas, at 6714m, stands tall and unique from the rest of the mountains. It is accessed via the small town of Darchen, the starting point of the kora.
The mountain is known in Tibetan as Kang Rinpoche or ‘Precious Jewel of Snow’. It has major beliefs for different religions. Hindus believe Mt. Kailas to be the abode of Lord Shiva and Lake Mansarovar to be a creation of Brahma. To the Buddhists, it is home to Demchok, an infuriated manifestation of Sakyamuni.
Lake Mansarovar is considered one of the most sacred lakes in the world. According to ancient Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, the four great rivers of the Indian subcontinent, the Indus, Ganges, Sutlej, and Brahmaputra, arise from Mansarovar. Pilgrims circumambulate the lake and bathe in its holy waters. Legend has it that the mother of the Buddha, Queen Maya, was bathed at Mansarovar by the gods before giving birth to her son. Following the edges of the lake, the kora offers brilliant hues at this high elevation. The journey is enlivened by a series of monasteries along the way.
For centuries, this sacred mountain has witnessed pilgrims and adventurous visitors, although it is still amongst one of the less travelled areas. Due to the remoteness of this region of Western Tibet, travelers hesitate to undertake this route. However, in recent years, there have been more people keen on visiting.
Pola & Mola (Tibetan for grandfather and grandmother) are an old Tibetan couple living in Nepal. Originally from Lhasa, Tibet, they migrated to Kathmandu in the late 1950’s to begin a new life in Nepal. A young 20 year old Pola had on his shoulders, the responsibilities of educating his younger siblings and taking care of his parents. Despite cultural and language differences, he set foot exploring the streets of Kathmandu.
Initially, he bought Nepalese spices, tobacco and candles; and exported them to Lhasa. He recalls those days when there were no roads and they had to send men on foot till the border carrying the supplies for days. “The Nepalese people are very hard working and with a Khukuri attached to their shirts, they carried goods on their backs,” he recalls. This went on till 1969, after which the highway was built and the Tibet – Nepal trade flourished. Since then, he traveled back and forth for 48 years between Nepal and Tibet, importing raw wool, musk, Tibetan thermos, campus shoes and later the famous Tibetan carpets from Lhasa to Nepal and likewise, exporting herbs, cotton, jute, ghee etc. to Lhasa.
While Pola sold Nepalese imported goods in the popular Barkhor Street in Lhasa, Mola stayed in a small retail shop they opened in the busy streets of Ason in Kathmandu selling all types of clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. “I made a lot of friends in Ason”, she says. “Those were the carefree days; chitchatting and drinking tea with fellow shopkeepers is how I improved my Nepali.”
After 57 years in Nepal, Pola & Mola share fond memories of Tibet and Nepal comparing similarities & differences between the two places they call home. “The same astounding landscape, mountains, hard-working people yet so distinct in culture and language.”
With 4 children and 6 grandchildren, they now live a happy retired life in Nepal. “Life has shown us so many phases, between being born and brought up in Tibet and retiring in Nepal. We love our life and are happy but what is important to us is that we do not forget our Tibetan culture and heritage, the place that defined our existence. We are proud of our traditional dress – Bakhu and our Tibetan language. Also, on this happy occasion, we would like to wish everyone a very happy Lhosar. Lhosar Tashi Delek!”
1. Bhutan is the only country that measures its progress by its “Gross National Happiness.” This tiny nation is arguably the happiest country on earth.
2. Bhutan’s people planted 108,000 trees to celebrate the birth of their new prince in 2016. Not to forget, plastic bags have been banned in Bhutan since 1999.
3. Bhutan is the only nation in the world where the sale of tobacco is banned. Those who bring their own tobacco products into Bhutan are subject to duties and customs at the Paro Airport.
4. Until the 1960’s, Bhutan had no roads, automobiles, telephone, postal system or electricity. Bhutanese had no access to TV or Internet until limited access was permitted in 1999.
5. The first foreign tourists were allowed into Bhutan in 1974.
1. The flag of Nepal is the only National flag that is not rectangular in shape and is over 2000 years old.
2. 8 of the world’s 10 highest peaks are in Nepal, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest at 8,848 m (29.029 ft).
3. Nepal has the world’s densest concentration of World Heritage Sites.
4. Nepal has over 80 ethnic groups and 123 languages.
5. “Better to die than be a coward” is the motto of the world-famous Nepalese Gurkha soldiers who are an integral part of the British Army since 1815.
1. Titled the “Roof of the World”, Tibet is literally the highest place on earth with an average elevation of 4,500 m (14,764 ft).
2. Tibetan people by tradition place prayer flags around their houses & properties for spiritual protection. These prayer flags are made up of 5 natural elements each a different color of blue, white, red, green, yellow each symbolizing Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
3. Tibet is known as the world’s “Third Pole” as, after the North and South Poles, it holds the third largest quantity of glacially stored water.
4. Potala Palace, the chief residence of the Dalai Lama is exclusively constructed on “Marpori” that translates as “Red Mountain”. The 13-storied palace has no elevator with about 1,000 rooms to explore and houses 200,000 Buddhist images.
5. Namtso, ‘the heavenly lake’, is the highest saltwater lake in the world that leaves one spellbound by its glistening beauty, pure blue water, and spiritual element.