My Journey to Singye Dzong: The Lion Fortress

Religious Pilgrimage of Guru Rinpochhe

Bhutanese people love to go on pilgrimage and listen to religious discourse. Every year pilgrims plan to go in a group for pilgrimage. They save pennies and store ration to take for their pilgrimage but I do not know why so many Bhutanese go to India, Nepal and Tibet for pilgrimage spending so much money when we have good pilgrimage spots in Bhutan itself? I feel people should first explore within their own country and then seek outside once they have finished touring their own nation. Moreover, I believe you do not earn that much virtue if you combine your pilgrimage with shopping. Pilgrimage should be done solely with full thoughts and determination. I am just fascinated by my visit to Kurtoe Singye Dzong with a team in December, 2011. This was sometimes two years ago and I shall be happy to share my experiences vividly for the benefit of all. The driving took two days to reach Lhuentse popularly known as Kurtoe by the local people from Thimphu. Our hike started on the 18th of December, 2011 from the Lhuentse Zampa popularly known as Chazam. We could not start hiking as we wished with the break of dawn because we had to wait for our potters who arrived around 7 am only. We took pack lunch and left around 7.30 am. The first day hike was not that tedious. Only that we were walking for the first time for a long time that we got tired easily. The road is also not steep and we do get some shade from the tall trees. The road slants gently and is very welcoming. The road was not good; it was muddy and slippery and leaches infested. On the way, after walking for about an hour and half, at Khoma village we were greeted with tea and snacks by some teachers who knew about my research. We arrived at the Dengchung village (our night camp) little after dusk. If we stayed at the Khongma Gongma village, we would have been there just before dark. However, we continued on to halt at Dengchung. It is a small village with few households. Almost all the village folks gathered in the house that we took shelter for the night. They started frying eggs and heating the wine locally known as ARA. We were so tired but the villagers were not serving us tea or food but instead forced us to drink ARA. Each person had to drink his/her quota of ARA in a serving bowl which could hold around 4-5 cups. Although none was a chronic drinker in our group, we each had to gulp our share but solace is that the wine is not strong at all. It was just like aerated water. It gave more pain to the stomach than our head. We had to accept the drinks as they accepted us in their village. The idea behind is after accepting the wine; we become friends and not foe. After all of us (guests) were served; then they drank themselves till they finished the whole wine brought by them. It was like 20 liters. After the drink session was over, they were still not serving us food but started dancing. We could not help dancing nor watching but lied down and felt asleep. It was only after midnight that they stopped dancing and served us dinner. Therefore, all of us should travel to Singye Dzong to experience such adventure. It’s simply divine.

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