Monday, May 28, 2007

Of Victory Tower and Buttered Asparagus




Once again I was in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Landed up at Paro on a sunny monday morning. My efficient welcoming team was there to receive me. Good old Yeshi has even thought of showing me around Paro as the road to Gedu will open only at 12.30. (Part of road widening project…sponsored by India of course, but to mark 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan next year!)So we had about 3 hours …and it was decided that they will take me to Drukyel Dzong (Bhutan-Victory Fortress). On the way to the Dzong ruins , I saw the famous Tiger Nest Monastery from a distance. It looks very tempting for a trek . Yeshi informs that it is about 2-3 hour trek and on full moon nights there is quite an attendance at the monastery.
On the way we passed through several small and mediam sized hotels and resorts, a clear sign of booming tourism in Bhutan .Another very symbolic sight I found just near the stairs going upto the Drukyel Dzong. It was a Dish TV antenna placed at the roots of a very ancient looking pine tree. Bhutan was changing for sure.




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People were debating about mock elections and how many could not vote in it due to bar on vote-by post for many categories of people. I heard that the chief Engineer of THPA has recently resigned from government service to contest election. Though I find this childlike enthusiasm towards democratic politics very charming….in the heart of my heart I fear if it will lead to all the vices this party politics brings .I hope and pray that it doesn’t.

Reaching at the foothill of the Drukyel Dzong, I was very curious to know the history of the place . First thing the ruins reminded me was the monastery in the “Name of the Rose” .Perhaps somewhere in Italy , similar ruins inspired Umberto Eco to write that magnificent tale of sleuth and horror. Yeshi, my all knowing escort, informed that this fortress was built in 1647-49 during the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, to commemorate the victory of Bhutanese forces over the Tibetan invaders. Exactly after 302 years the fortress was swallowed up by flames zeroing most of it right to the ground it once stood proudly on.

Today the Utse ( tall square citadel housing main temple in the dzong ) is the most preserved part of this complex . On the four corners there stood four watch towers , strategically guarding the fortress. The entrance must have been majestic once upon a time…there were dungeons for prisoners and also the emergency river channel going down the river (paro-chu) .Water was the life source for a place like this and if enemies manage to poison or cut the source of it…there was no escape . The glorious victory fortress looks splendid even in its ruins . I was pained to find the signs of tourist-nuisance even in these ruins. I am even more ashamed as all those names and marks made on the historical ruins were Indian. How I wish we as a nation had some sense of preserving heritage- ours as well as others. The place looks so alive, can’t help making comparison with “The name of the Rose” once again. Utse can jolly well be the central tower housing the library and the kitchen . Was there a library here as well? It’s strange but the next thing that came to my mind was James Hilton’s Shangri-la. It also had a monastery, probably in this region only…and there was a library there as well.

Before my imagination could take me any further, I was taken to a beautiful resort- Kichu . We were heading for an early lunch. To suit my taste buds they had arranged Indian food…but when I told them my fondness for Bhutanese dishes, in a minute or two I was treated with Buttered Asparagus …..Butter, cheese, Bhutan….very very related images for me. And so are the wildflowers…flowers were blooming everywhere. The airport was full of small yellow flowers. The fields we passed through greeted us with bunch of white wild flowers and even in the resort trees were flowering like mad.


2 comments:

Sweet aLiZzzz said...

Wow.. sister!!! U were in Bhutan again.. did U meet brother Dorji???

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