Monday, September 27, 2010

Off to the nunnery.

No, I didn't join a nunnery while I was in Bhutan but I did get to visit one!

After our time at the Motithang Takin Preserve, it seemed like the van was heading back towards town center. I think I must have been half asleep this morning because, again, I had no idea where we were going except that we would be seeing some nuns.  So I asked Tenzing and he told that we would be visiting a nunnery but before we got there, we would have one more view to take in.

That view turned out to be of a building that had driven by on our way to see the takin.  We pulled over at the roadside and there before our eyes was a great view of the imposing Tashichho Dzong which is the Thimphu's dzong.

Tashichho is a Buddhist monastery and fortress that has been the seat of Bhutan's government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance.

Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby.   Most surprisingly, Tenzing pointed out a relatively small building, located just in front of the dzong and told us that that was the King's palace.... a very modestly sized building compared to the dzong!

The large building in the foreground is the dzong and the smaller building, to its right, is the Royal Palace.

Across the street, from where we pulled over, was the entrance to Drubthob Goemba which now houses the Zilukha nunnery.

It was an uphill walk....every walk in Bhutan seems to be uphill....to where the various buildings that make up the nunnery are located.

Compared to a dzong, the nunnery was really small though I seem to recall someone saying that around 50 or so nuns live here.


Similar to a monastery, the buildings of the nunnery were situated around a center courtyard. 


At one end was a very small chanting hall that two women were circumambulating.





We took off our shoes and entered the chanting hall.  Seated in the entrywall were nuns in prayer.  With their shaven heads, they could have been mistaken but their voices were distinctively female.  Like their male counterparts, their chant was very monotone in sound....at times, it almost sounded they were mumbling in a very low tonal range.




The interior of the chanting was as I had seen in so many monasteries so my visit was just a quick step in, a quick glance around and I was turning around to leave.  I stood in the doorway to listen for a bit to the nuns before heading outside.








Housed inside one of the nunner buildings was a small chorten perhaps holding the remains of the nunnery's founders.
















 
 
 
 
It was a quick visit to the nunnery.  We had to rush on because we had one more place to go before lunch and I was definitely starting to get hungry. :-)