Chillipam monastery -Riot of colours

Image Courtesy :Google

I am still in awe of the grandeur and aura of the Chillipam monastery,  close by Tenga , a small village in Arunachal Pradesh. 

While travelling from Guwahati to Tenga , the journey is breathtaking and an education in itself.

The journey across the plains , along the basin of mighty Brahmaputra is very smooth and one gets to witness vast paddy fields and coconut trees.

The journey after Balukpong is really beautiful,  but as we head towards Nechiphu, the road becomes narrow, but as we reach Tenga, the whole journey becomes worth it.

Tenga is a small village with small market , and with a nice spot to chill out called Tenga haat with Tenga river flowing along side.

But beyond Tenga , Chillipam monastery is the closest as we cross the town of Rupa.

Going slow and steady on the hills ,with in 45 minutes we reach the monastery. 

It is one of the most beautiful Buddhist Monastry in the world,  I would say.

Located at a hill top, surrounded by the mountains on all sides. 

Once we reach the monastry,  one gets to witness a complete riot of colours.

The monastry also houses the  school for young Lamas.

It is a beautiful,  isolated, peaceful and an ornately designed Gompa with its irresistible charm, vibrant and bright colours.

Worth visiting 

Happy Travelling 

8 symbols of Buddhism 

​The moment one lands in North-east part of India, the simplicity and beauty of life around captures our attention. 

Apart from rivers,cane huts,and hills, one thing that attracts our attention is the presence of Buddhism here in Arunachal Pradesh. 

All though the travel route from Balukpong to Tenga, Rupa and Chillipam marks the presence of beautiful coloured flags, which keep the traveller/tourist company on the bumpy roads. These flags could be seen on the roadside or outside houses .
Apart from the flags, one more thing is found in prominence is the presence of 8 Buddhist symbols (paintings).Not only the monasteries but even the boundary walls depict these 8 symbols.

Buddhism was founded over 2500 years ago by Siddartha Gautama, this belief was centered around compassion, non-violence  and charity for the enlightenment of body and soul.
Buddhist symbols are vital part of the Buddhist faith. They have become tools for teaching the religion to others, as they hold deep significance. 
Important Buddhist symbols include , musical instruments,  fans, scroll, spear, rope , hare, monk begging bowls and incense burners.

Elephant is an important symbol of Buddhism,  it represents ‘power’ and ‘peace’ in Buddhism. 

The 8 Emblems of Good fortune , also known as the 8 auspicious symbols of Good fortune are the : the wheel of law, the conch shell,  umbrella, mystic knot,fish,lotus, vase and canopy.
The above mentioned symbols are very important to Buddhism and are considered important along the path to enlightenment. 
1. Umbrella (Parasol)  : symbolises umbrella of Buddhist community and teaches us that first we should enter the Buddhist family. Also called Parasol , umbrella above the mountains is the dome of the sky, symbolised by the umbrella.  It casts the shadow of protection, from heat and harmful forces. Silk and peacock Parasol is used by the dignitaries,  including his holiness,  Dalai Lama.

Dome of the umbrella symbolises wisdom and the hanging skirt symbolises compassion. 
2. Fish : symbolises harmony, the golden fishes , or the two fishes standing vertical,  heads turned inwards towards each-other. Fishes originated as an ancient Pre-Buddhist symbol of two sacred rivers of India – Ganga and Yamuna,  representing lunar and solar channels.

The pair of golden Fishes also symbolises happiness, fertility and abundance,  as they have complete freedom in water and they multiply rapidly.

3. Vase: also called the treasure Vase, it is represented by a fat bellied vessel with short slim neck , on top of it is a large jewel indicating treasure Vase. 

It also depicts storage and satisfaction of material desires, inexhaustible treasures.It also teaches us about the inner wealth of faith, moral discipline and practice dharma,benefitting others.

4 .Lotus: symbolises purity, every Hindu deity is associated with lotus, either he/she is seated on it or holding it. The roots of lotus are in mud, stem grows upwards through water, it is a heavily scented flower, which lies above water, basking in sunlight.  This pattern of growth symbolises the progress of soul , from primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience  and into bright sunshine of enlightenment. 

The white coloured lotus stands for purity,  spiritual perfection,  red coloured lotus depicts original nature, purity of heart, love and compassion, the blue coloured lotus represents victory of spirit over the senses,  whereas the pink lotus represents the supreme knowledge,  it is reserved for the highest deity, associated with Buddha himself.

5. Conch: is the emblem of power , Lord Vishnu is seen holding it , it also depicts authority, battle horn, akin to bugle, banishes evil, scares evil, also as a container of holy water. It also represents the four fold caste division through the variations of its colour.

The thick shelled bulbous one is said to be the male or Pursha, whereas the thin shelled is said to be the female,  the shankhini. 

Apart from this , the conch are right or left turning conch shells, the right one is rare and sacred, is also compared to hair whorls on Buddha’s head. Like the sound of conch , Buddhist want the teachings of Buddha to spread in all directions.
6. Knot of Eternity : omniscient wisdom, also called the endless knot of intertwined lines, may have evolved from an ancient naga symbol with two stylized snakes, which represent close cycle of cause and effect, with balanced harmony.This is one of the most favorite symbol of Tibetan Buddhism.  As it has no beginning or end  , it symbolises infinite wisdom in Buddhism. 
7 . Victory Banner: in Sanskriti means dhvaja, the flag.

Buddha’s enlightenment,  heralding the triumph of knowledge over ignorance.  Cylindrical victory banners made of beaten copper are traditionally placed at four corners of a monastry and temple roofs , which signify Buddha’s victorious dharma spreading in four directions. 
8. Dharma wheel : consists of three basic parts : the hub, the rim and spokes (generally 8 in number).

The circle shape represents complete or a perfect shape. 

Rim is the element of limitation denotes concentration,  holds entire meditative practice together,  hub- represents the axis of the world, train in moral discipline. 8spokes denote 8 fold path set for correct application of wisdom, cuts ignorance and ends suffering. This path was set up by Buddha himself.

Wheel evolved as a symbol of Buddhist teaching and as an emblem of Chakravartin or ‘wheel turner’.

Wheels swift motion is an apt metaphor for spiritual change. Buddha’s first discourse at Deer park at Sarnath is known as ‘ first turning of the wheel of dharma’.

Next time when you visit a Buddhist monastry,  remember that the three curving conch like lines on the neck of Buddha are soaked with rich spiritual symbolism. It is said to represent Buddha’s deep resonant voice, therefore conch becomes a sacred symbol here.

These 8 symbols are also associated with the physical form of Buddha , the head of Buddha is like a protective Parasol,  Buddha paintings also show the presence of umbrella behind him. The eyes of Buddha are like the precious golden fishes, neck like adorned vase of good fortune,  speech like right turning Dharma shell, mind infinite with wisdom like the never ending knot. Tongue open like auspicious pink lotus and feet tread on the path of dharma like the auspicious wheel.

These 8 symbols adorn all manner of sacred and secular Buddhist objects, such as carved wood furniture,  metal work, wall panels, carpets and silk brocades.

Happy Reading 🤗

Tenga through my Lens

​Wow, it’s New Year 2017, and sitting amongst the young mountains,  I feel like my favorite writer, Mr. Ruskin Bond. His stories from the hills, about the hills have always fascinated me.

Tenga, in Arunachal is one such place which is so close to the descriptions by Mr. Bond, with only slight difference, that this place is in the North Eastside of our country.

Tenga a beautiful valley, amidst young mountains and tenga river flowing along is a site worth dying for.

This Place mostly dominated by the Army settlements is glimpse to the old world charm, but the only difference it holds with rest of the hill stations is, that it is untouched by British artitecture, as we won’t finds churches or bungalows like rest of the hill stations. The reason is that it never came under the British rule. Going by the legend, British soldiers did try to enter Arunachal,  an area dominated by the local tribe here, who chopped of the heads of the British soldiers and sent them back to Assam,  so they gave up the idea of entering Arunachal.

Arunachal was once part of Assam,  it became a Union Territory in 1971 , and later independent state in 1987.
Yes it is not easy to get here, moment we land in Guwahati, the only option to reach Tenga is through the road, which are not in very good condition, due to constant landslides here.

As we cross the place called Balukpong, the bumpy ride towards the hills start, which is not for the faint hearted, trust me on that, but then there is no gain without the pain, so to explore the wonders of Tenga Valley, one has to go through the roads less travelled, the grinding pathways leading towards our destination. 

Yes to reach heaven, one has to go through hell of a roads here.But trust me, the scenery is breathtaking.

Young mountains, with black soil and pines growing on them are in the prime of their fertility, giving way to various kinds of flora.

Arunachal is home to lot of varieties of Orchids, which I am yet to explore.

But yes I did taste the latest cultivated fruits here, and those the local kiwis here, which are slightly smaller than the imported ones, but believe me, that in taste , the ones grown here are much-much sweeter. 
The beauty of this place truly lies in its serenity and calm enviroment , other places close by Tenga are, Rupa, Bombdila and Tawang,  which are more prominent in terms of tourist inflow, due to their monasteries,  but if one plans to sit I  ease and be in footsteps of Mr.Ruskin Bond , then spending time in Tenga is worth a try.
As I sit under the mighty pines, and look at the starlit skies, where moon and clouds play hide and seek , I wonder if life could go on like this only.

Grab a book near the bonfire, or for that matter an cup of tea or a glass of wine and admire the river flowing across , giving a perfect ‘room with a view’.

On my recliner,  as I decide to sit during the day, for soaking the sunlight, the chilly breeze across my face makes me realise, that it the winter season, the amalgamation of Sun and breeze can only be felt here, on this little quiet valley.

Nature here is truly at its best, the long walks on the hill roads gives you the glimpse of beautiful hill culture, as well of the Buddhism.  The colourful flags along the roadside and the beautiful monasteries and little bridges , brings you much more closer to simplicity of life here.

All you need is basic things, such as fresh air , water and food, the requirements of people residing here are only basic, because they live such a simple and beautiful life with peace and happiness.