A cozy evening in the comfortable Akezhuoba suite warmly lit by the faux fire place. Today morning after a made to order breakfast, we set out to visit the two main temples in Tagong – Lhagang Monastery right in the heart of the town and the Ser Gyergo Nunnery & Golden Temple, a drive away in the Muya village.
A stone’s throw away from the AKDB hotel ,we left right after breakfast. Today morning was frosty and the coldest till date.We parked in the empty parking lot, while Kevin bought the entry tickets (20 Yuan per head). The monastery is open from 5 am to 6 pm (sunrise to sunset).
You cannot click photos inside the monastery. I also lit candles and incense in the fire room. As we ascended inside on the wooden stairs, we found a cat had found itself the coziest warmest corner and curled up there.
Legend says that when Princess Wencheng was travelling to Lhasa, a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha fell here and her cavalcade was stranded here. They installed the image quite alike the ten-year-old self of Buddha here in this temple and only then could go ahead.
On the way out from Tagong, we had to stop; our passports and driving licenses were checked by the authorities here.
Our next stop was the Muya village which houses the Ser Gyergo nunnery and the glimmering golden temple. It has one of the the largest Mani piles in China.
The prayer lined wheels, the backdrop of the Snowy mountains, the scores of Tibetans circumambulating yields an ethereal air to the temple. We met several old men and women who just came up to us and shook our hands and a sense of gratitude in their eyes.
Many of them offered us candy, yak butter, an old gentleman who could converse in English insisted that we go to his home for a cup of hot tea.
It was an humbling experience and made us misty eyed. And then we met these cute Tibetan children.
We also met this gentleman who has dedicated his life to carving the sacred Buddhist mantra on Mani piles big and small all strewn across. We did buy one who could fit our luggage.
Ser Gyergo Nunnery
This is situated up on the hill with a unpaved path leading to it. Home to about 500 nuns ordained here in their childhoods and lives dedicated to spirituality. Two old nuns approached us and requested a lift to Tagong town. Tagong town was on the opposite side as we had already left for Jiaju but asked them to hop on and drove to their destination. On alighting, they tried to pay Debarshi for the ride and Kevin was explaining that we just needed their good wishes for the journey! it was quite bizarre!
Ba Mei Metamorphic Stone Forest
We saw this stone forest landscape on our right side while driving out from Tagong. It is a geological wonder – metamorphic stone forest formed by the tectonic movement of the rocks in the ancient times. It had started raining and thus we could not click any photos.
Drive to Jiaju
We stopped for lunch at a nondescript town in a Sichuan restaurant and bought fruits from an open fresh fruit market.
Jiaju is a pretty Tibetan village with a lot of pretty old-world homestays. The uphill drive is steep has multiple hairpin bends always beside the river.
Jiaju Tibetan VillageThere are many Tibetan stone house and homestays and is a weekend destination for the urban folks from Chengdu or other cities.
Our original plan was to stay here for a day, but we had an extra day at hand (owing to the Baiyu episode); so Kevin arranged for us to stay here for two nights and drive to the Moska village the next day.
We reached our homestay and welcomed by the lovely Tibetan couple who run it. We noticed over the two nights, the homeowner continuously cooking or cleaning.
A walk in the Village and Barley Fields
Kevin said that we could go for a walk in the village and the nearby wooded areas with a nice path and all. The weather was very balmy at the time and armed with our cameras we set out.
Debarshi and I visited a few Tibetan families in the village, and they opened their homes to us offering tea and refreshments.
Visiting the Woods
Next, we went to the adjoining reserve forest area with walking wooden pathway and staircase. The woods were verdant green and tranquil; filled with the chirping of the inhabitants.
Debarshi managed to click a few of them. Meanwhile Kevin & I tried to imitate some of the pictorial warning signs.
And the Heavens opened!
We were back in our homestay and were enjoying a large cup of green tea and Sugar cookies on the covered terrace, when the skies became overcast. May be an afternoon squall. Lo and behold! An unexpected hail storm with hail stones the size of golf balls. Debarshi had parked it under the tree expecting a situation like this and so our Vehicle was unscathed in the hailstorm. Our lessons learnt from road trips and self-drives.
Making new Friends at Dinner
We sat down to a large dinner just spread out for the three of us – all cooked by the lady of the house. Astonishing tenacity!
It was not just us but there were other guests in the homestay as well. The table next to was a large family with many men, women and children; they had come to spend the extended weekend in Jiaju. They asked Kevin if we would like to speak to them. Once the ladies and the young children had retired, the men sat down with their drinks and offered us the same as well and a smoke as well. They were curious to know about India and Indians.
Kevin was so tired translating both ways, finally we retired to our rooms after two hours for the next day’s drive to Moska village. Back to the rooms , we could still see the chimney spewing smoke realizing that the lady was still cooking away !