Tharpaling Monastery: Two heads not better than one

Above and to the east of our site lies the Tharpaling Monastery that gives our company in part it’s name. We spend the day there, the event a bit of a pilgrimage for the rest of the group.


The hour drive from Jakar has become familiar to me now, winding through the Blue Pine forests of Bumthang and ultimately turning off the main road onto the farm track that leads past the entrance to our project site, up past some new paving work, past the Monastery’s gift shop, winding up finally to the main gate where we park. That paving job had young children and nursing mothers on a public works crew unlike any I’ve ever seen anywhere. I keep noticing that the women do all the heavy lifting in this culture, on this paving project but also on all these construction sites I visit.  If it’s rammed earth then its the women lifting huge bags of earth and tamping with these heavy tools, with the men standing around pointing. Sort of like my house…(hi Polly!)


The Monastery sits on a steep slope, and though it looks modest at first we discover there are many more buildings sprinkled up the slope. Far above, on the ridge line, there’s a modest chapel commemorating the site of one particularly important monk and his notable meditations, and that’s where I set my sights. The climb is steep, the altitude is high, and I could frankly be exercising more, but I take it slow and easy all the way to the top. Along the way, a variety of monks check out the white guy in a Gho (Kazuzampo-La!), but at least I’m wearing it correctly today. Somewhere around 11,000 feet my head begins to suggest alternate plans, but some other  head disagrees and both heads and I continue up. The unheard head starts to throw a tantrum as I hit the tree line and then the ridge line, and its obvious the argument will not be settled. Stubbornness prevails, and finally all three of us make it to the final alter somewhere around 12,000ft I’m told.



There’s a great view into the next valley, which the Buddha statue turns his back to in favor of the way I came.  Far below lies Tharpaling, and were it not for the headache I might have lingered. Unsure of what the rest of the group might be up to, it seems just as well that I head back. As it turns out, they got an audience with the head monk and it was an incredibly emotional experience.


We eat a late picnic lunch up there at the monastery and head back to town, the hour late enough that we skip another visit to the project site.

2 Responses to “Tharpaling Monastery: Two heads not better than one”

  1. Hosting says:

    In addition, the Crane Festival which marks the arrival of Black-necked Cranes from the Tibetan plateau during the winter months and which are held as a religious blessing by the people, is also a big event not only in the Phobjika Valley but also in this monastery. The nine ‘Successive Throne Holders of Gangteng Monastery’ starting with Gyalse Pema Thinley to the present Kunzang Rigdzin Pema Namgyal, are listed below.

  2. Bert Lorch says:

    like it! keep posting

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