North America, Europe, Asia · 32 Days · 167 Moments · December 2016

Going to the Kalachakra, Bodh Gaya 2017

18 January 2017

Sigh... the last early morning wake up bu cha (Tibetan butter tea) in MKT.
I've just realized that there are bunch of sites & days which I have not posted! I hope to at least get more of the pics up either here or elsewhere. I will let you know...

17 January 2017

Our 2nd last night in Maha Bharat (Great India)! We had chai at the chaiwalla by the taxi stand at Majnu Ka Tila. Around a fire to keep warm! Majnu Ka Tila feels like home to me now. Delhi will always be important to me. I have grown to love India as much as I love Canada . It will be hard to leave but India & its people will always be in my heart. Sigh...
Since returning to Delhi, food has become a bit of a preoccupation - I seem to be constantly hungry! My travel companions have all commented on how I seem to be gaining some weight & better colour! I am still not smoking!!!

16 January 2017

On our return to Delhi & Majnu Ka Tila, Sue & I went straight for chai! Saw very cute street puppie, who was very playful. Also saw this sticker on a motorbike. I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be a likeness of Bachchan, greatest of all Indian actors, in my humble opinion. (Although I really don't have much experience of Indian movies! But of the few I've seen, Bachchan has been in most of them & I really do enjoy his performances. He also appears to be a very public personality.)
Noida. Almost at Delhi!
India's F1 Racetrack, Buddh International Circuit! Apparently only used 2 or 3 times before tax issues created...problems. See the Wikipedia page for details on the track & it's history.
Views on the way to Delhi...
Lunchtime! We stopped at a very modern western-style food court. They also have a gas bar & a motel! Not surprisingly, like food courts the world over, the food was adequate but not the best example of the represented cuisines. The dosas were okay (the dosas at Kathir in Edmonton are vastly better!), the thali was good but not as flavoursome as I've come to expect. The chai latte after dinner was similar to Starbucks & not the local chaiwallas! One surprizing feature was a little kiosk with American Sweet Corn! But it is served like elotes (kernaled corn in a cup - a Mexican street staple!)!
Views on the way out of Agra...
An interesting excavation at the Taj site. Note the pair of trees which have been excavated around! The one to the left is not as clear as the one in the centre...
& some more Taj views.
More Taj views...
The private mosques for the Kings family... As was explained to me a very knowledgeable guide for another group, these mosques lack the traditional minaret, from which the call to prayers is made. If the call to prayers is made from a minaret, ANYONE who hears the call & shows up is entitled to pray. So here, the call is only made inside, where only the royal family could hear.
Taj views & selfies!
Views at the Taj. & also Kushok explaining the history of the mausoleum. Oh yeah! In case you don't k ow, the Taj is mausoleum for a Kings bride. The 2 brown building on either side (not in tgis set), are private mosques for the Kings family.
The vehicles used to ferry tourists to the Taj are all electric. My presumption is that this helps reduce the acidity of the general environment. Marble is sensitive to acids... & electric is so much quieter!
Views in Agra, on the way to the Taj...
We stayed in Agra! Very nice hotel, good solid breakfast (puri, spicy potatoes, & delicious coffee)! Next, the Taj Mahal!
We may have found the fog...
We just got to the nice modern highway which leads to Delhi. We may just go straight through & not stop at Agra...
Zoom into the the top centre of this pic!
It is just past midnight. We are still 52 minutes away from Agra according to Google Maps. Quick pee stop ( & a quick chai) & off we go! & Viola! We found a traffic jam! Or maybe its just road construction?

15 January 2017

Bus Munchies: Kushok asked for some juice. So Jeremy broke out the juice & everyone had juice! I brought out the Marieas (cookies) & everyone had cookies! Then the bags of Indian snacks that Chi had brought got passed around! Finally khapsey ((Tibetan cookies)! Now we are sated without stopping on our 14 hour journey! Maha BharT!
As we leave Bodhgaya, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that the area has been continually occupied for over 3000 years. It has not always been a place of Buddhism (that was forgotten for a time), but there has always been a human presence. This area (& the whole country) has supported human culture, of varying degrees of sophistication, for so long, that it is quite literally, one of the mother cultures & places. It rocks!

14 January 2017

Tonight is our final sleep in Bodhgaya! Tomorrow, we drive to Agra for one say, then Delhi.
For our final meal in Bodhgaya we were guests of Lama Soepa of Dzongkar Choedae Monastery.

13 January 2017

More fumigation tonight. Definitely a kerosene base, but I couldn't identify the pesticide. A young lady huddling with Ani-la, Sue & myself away from the smoke said it smelt like the DEET mosquito repellent she was using. Was definitely hard on the lungs tonight!
the moon over the Mahabodhi stupa

12 January 2017 9 pm...of the crowd & everything. I really hope it is with something gentle on mammalian lungs, as there seems to be a lot of people experiencing lung/respiratory issues!
Tonight at the end of supper - cake! Carrot cake (2nd pic), very nice, moist & delicious. Also a cheescake (1st pic) but instead of a cream cheese base - yogurt based! And of course, there was chocolate cake (not pictured)!
A road- side snack stop! The wok has hot sand. He tosses in a variety of dry noodle-like items, which puff up! Then some spice & salt - voila! Fried snacks without the oil!
Road-side cotton candy!
The Running of the Chai! Tea service monk-style! They quite literally serve chai to over 250,000 people in less than 40 minutes! Makes McDonalds service look deathly slow! There could not have been more than 200 monks serving!
Goats & dogs, peacefully co-existing!
There are lots of women wearing this particular style of traditional clothing. I have no idea from what part of Asia they come from - I will update if I find out!

11 January 2017

Bringing the torma (ritual cakes) as part of the offerings.
Devotees waiting to pass through security.
Piggies! Perhaps bristle-back boars? Perhaps a heritage breed? Definitley not the cute pink pigs of the 3 Little Pigs story!
This gentleman will let the birds go, if you pay him! Apparently, this is illegal if they are wild birds that have been caught for this purpose. I wonder if these are wild or raised in captivity?
The Maha Bodhi Society & Temple

10 January 2017

Brad and his natty new hat, courtesy Kushok.
The solar water heater at the Bangladesh Monastery. Quite effective on sunny days, even light overcast days produce hot water!

9 January 2017

There are a pair of street vendors selling clumps of this interesting plant. Soaking it for 24 hours brings it back to life. I have also seen bits of it for sale by a traditional Tibetan herbalist (another street vendor). The plant is called Sanjeevani (Selaginella bryopteris).
Strangest thing yet: street-side tattoos! Even in Canada this would be reckless behaviour, but here? With the dust, animals, etc, etc! His work does look good though!
Some nice views of temples in Bodhgaya...
There is a chain coffee shop in India: Cafe Coffee Day (I mention them earlier). When they are REALLY busy, you can get your order before everyone if you've ordered a single item! (78db on their door step)
This morning (actually, both sides of noon) the Dalai Lama & his entourage left & returned. His Holiness travels in the Ambassador. His vehicle entourage always includes an advanced life support ambulance.
A truly amazing feature of the Kalachakra event is the bread & tea service for the participants. Basically, palee (Tibetan bread), & tea are distributed to EVERYONE! In the morning, the tea is Tibetan butter tea & afternoon tea is sweet milk tea. Bread in the morning is savory, in the afternoon, sweet. It is very cool to watch! A few hundred monks run (as best they can) through the seated crowd distributing the tea or bread. The monks are very agile! As there are a lot of people outside (who cannot get in), the distribution is also done outside to a distance of about 2 - 3 blocks out & all the way around the site
The 3 monkeys in Hindi...

8 January 2017

Tonight, I walked in to Mohammads for my nightly masala chai...& I was recognized as a regular! Sigh! India is wonderful! (BTW the volume in here tonight is 84db!
Kushok lLobsang Dhamchoe, teaching in the Shrine-room of the Bangladesh Monastery, which is our home while in Bodhgaya.
Okay. I just had my first hot shower since arriving in Bodhgaya! It was oh so glorious!!! Seems they finally cleaned the solar collector! Ah, Indian time! Lol! Got to love it! 7 days, no shower!

7 January 2017

Susie at our favorite chai walla!
The crowd at early evening.
A few views around Bodhgaya...
A panoramic view of my favorite restaurant here: Mohammads! Great momos, excellent chow mein (vegie & buffalo), perfect honey ginger tea with honey. They also make a wicked masala chai & South Indian Coffee with milk!
The best dressed dogs I have seen in India! I've also seen a goat sporting a natty sweatshirt!

6 January 2017

Tata makes EVERYTHING in India, from cars to sugar!
Went to an exhibit about Milarepa, the Tibetan Yogi saint. We recieved a personal tour from the gentleman in the pic, whose name I forgot to record! Some very interesting photos of the various locations associated with Milarepa, including the tower he was required to build for Marpa (as part of his penance to burn off negative karma). Milarepa has the main distinction of being the first human to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime (Gautama Buddha took over 300 lifetimes to achieve his state of enlightenment). Also in the exhibit are 3 relics: a piece of Milarepas covering cloth, a few strands of his hair, & a piece of The sole of Marpas shoe!

5 January 2017

A chai walla in Bodhgaya with clay chai pots. Also a couple of pics of cow milking, a block from our guest house...on the street!
Signs on the way to the Mahabodhi stupa...
Views of the simulated Kalachakra palace. It is part of rather large structure built of lashed bamboo & plastic tarps. Inside this structure is where the initiation is occuring. It holds the estimated 280,000 people attending. Sadly, I lack press credentials so no pics from inside!
Early morning Bodhgaya 3rd pic is of my favorite chai walla.

4 January 2017

Some more views of Nalanda, University for the Enlightened... I will post more pics from Nalanda. I have also made a 360 degree capture. When I find an online home for it, I will try posting the URL.
Views of Nalanda
On the way to Nalanda, we passed a couple of dozen shops like this one. They sell a deep fried pastry, which is layered like filo pastry & either sprinkled with sugar or left plain. Each "pastry" is about 3 inches (width) by 4 inches (length) by 2 inches (depth)
Sone Bhandar. There is a cave in this cliff with 2 entrances. It is said to have been the treasure house of either the Buddha or King Bimbissari. If you can verbally complete the mantra written on the cave wall, the doors to the treasury will open!
Trying to leave the parking lot at Raj Griha
The way down from Vultures Peak.
More Vultures Peak & perhaps a few too many of me!
Vultures Peak, the height of devotion! The panoramas are a bit messed up but still interesting!
Chair lift up Raj Griha & Vultures Peak...

3 January 2017

These 2 gentleman were from Kham province, Tibet. They are monks. I think...
Can't remember the name of this place other than Mahakala Cave.

31 December 2016

As I write this, we are about 30kms from Bodhgaya. Thats 1.5 hours of travel! We have seen many Buddhist sites, sights, monasteries, & temples. Tomorrow we rest in preparation for the Kalachakra. It's been a great trip & a fruitful pilgrimage! And it has been 7 days of not smoking!!!
Kushinagar, the place of Buddhas Parinivanna

28 December 2016

Chinese buffet in India! The carrots are red!
Look what I found, growing in the ditch! No, I didn't touch it, I swear!!
Chai cups returning to their natural state...
As we travel this morning, the fog is dense. Objects BEGIN to be visible at approx. 25-30 feet! We ain't going very fast!
On the road again! We are now going to Savatthi (Sravasti). This was the capital city of King Pasenadi, a royal admirer & disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni.

27 December 2016

Brad at the Mahabodhi temple (I think...)
Bad Brad at Sarnath...

26 December 2016

We are currently driving to Varanasi. Our driver says there are no rules & regulations for driving. However, he says there are 3 very important parts to Indian driving: brakes, horn, & luck!
Okay, now I have had the quintessential Indian experience: chai in a clay pot. The milk for the chai came from buffalo belonging to the gentleman with the bicycle! From 2 milkings a day, his buffalo produce 40 litres! Sigh, 😃 PLEASE NOTE: I had to post this immediately, so when I get caught up with the postings, there will be more NEW posts BEFORE it! Thanks for following!

24 December 2016

Please bear with me as I try to catch up. It has been a flurry of activity, so it's difficult to stay current but I will persevere! BTW as of Dec 24, 2016, I am a non-smoker!

23 December 2016

The menu for the restaurant near Hubli train station, where we had supper. Hey Ken, you asked about Rasmali, here it is on the menu! Sadly, as it is served cold, caution is required! A wonderful dessert though! Here, I had Rasam & Vada, I think! LOL!
Hubli, at night.
Scenes on our way from Ganden Jangtse
Getting ready to leave Ganden Jangtse & Geshe Dawas guest house.
Geshe Dawa & Kushok Lobsang Dhamchöe and a group pic with Geshe Dawa & Kushok
Chorten (stupas)
Ant nests in trees!
Lunch! I had idly & sambar. Everyone else had thali!
Scenes on the way to lunch...
During our stay at Ganden Jangtse, there was a confirmation/ graduation ceremoniy for Geshema (female Geshes - the Tibetan equivalent to Doctor) for the first time in Tibetan history.
More Drepung Gomang
Scenes near Drepung Gomang, including a motorcycle monk!
"You whack the top off the coconut then you drink it all up...". (to the tune of "lime in the coconut") Then the seller deftly whacks it in half, adds an additional cut to make a spoon, & you eat the jelly inside!!!
Drepung Gomang
More Drepung including some Gomang & Loseling. Drepung Monastery has 2 divisions: Loseling & Gomang. Our first teacher, Geshe Ngawang Kaldan studied at Gomang.
Some interior views & other views in Drepung
Some views & details of Drepung
a panoramic view of Drepung...
Drepung Loseling Monastery... Drepung (which means rice heap in Tibetan) was one of the largest in Tibet. We had just missed the Emory Universities symposium on science & buddhism.
These are kapok flowers... What is kapok, I hear the young'uns asking... Before modern material sciences created all the marvelous fibers we stuff in our jackets, sleeping bags, etc, there was kapok! The seed pods are 4-5" long & approx. 2" across (I will add a pic later). When opened, you find a neat, compact row of seeds on a white material. If you disturb the seeds, the white stuff fluffs up! The fluff is very light & has a lovely silky feel. This was used as an insulator for jackets,sleeping bags etc!
A panorama from the road to Gaden Jangtse...
If you zoom in, you'll see the giant (at least to me) ant! He's bigger than a watermelon seed!
Sweeping out our room at Gaden Jangtse.

22 December 2016

Dominos Pizza in Camp #3 & the road back to Gaden Jangtse
Kushok with Sonam's mother-in-law. Kushok with Sonams family!
50th Anniversary Celebration for Central School for Tibetans In Mungood. H.H. the Dalai Lama was a special guest. Kushok & Sonam were invited guests. An interesting event but very hot!
A papaya plant! The tallest one I've seen in India or Mexico!
Views from around Gaden Jangtse..,
This is the President of Gaden Samten Ling Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Society (Phillip) & Jampa Gyaltsen from Dzongkar Choede Monastery. Dzongkar Choede Monastery has been extremely helpful to GSL. They arranged for the manufacture of our temple statues; they came to Canada to assemble & consecrate the statues. Jampa Gyaltsen is always happy & full of laughter & smiles, just like his teacher Khensur Rinpoche (abbot of Dzongkar Choede). I think of Jampa as "the laughing monk"!
Gaden Shartse Temple interior, including butter sculpture & a 3D mandala.
Lunch time for the Gaden Jangtse monks... The meals at the monasteries are vegetarian & quite delicious.
Photos from inside Gaden Jangtses'main temple.
The grounds of Gaden Jangtse & a group photo at main doors of Gaden Jangtse Monastery's maintemple.
A fascinating aspect of India, is the profusion of plants & flowers during every season of the year. Many plants (particularly trees) were introduced by the British, for aesthetic purposes.
Being received at Gaden Jangtse. We were all very pleased to have arrived finally.
On the way & arriving at Gaden Jangtse...
Traveling from Hubli to Gaden Jangste Monastery, we stopped for chai! Since coming to India, my chai consumption has been reduced! So sad!
Arriving in Hubbli! A very Indian town. From here we travel to Mungood & the Tibetan Colonies (specifically Camp #1). Gaden Jangtse Monastery sent several "Jeeps" to drive us. The trip from Hubbli to Mungood is about an hour.

21 December 2016

The train station & train we rode to Hubbli. Sadly, we traveled 3-tier AC. NEXT train ride is supposed to be 2-tier AC. 3-tier is 3 bed stacked. No room to sit up. 2-tier, you can sit!
Bangalore! Had the BEST ever momos at the Yak Cafe! Sorry, Kalimpong ( a momo restaurant in McLeod Ganj, that I previously had considered the best)! Went browsing, Sue purchased a kurti (a dress like shirt). The gentleman in the pic, was hawking on the street. Purchased a travel chess set from him & promised to shop more! I really am impressed by Bangalore!
Driving into Bangalore proper...
Arriving at the Bangalore Airport... Santa was there!
The meal we were served on the plane. Meat & noodles were very good. Sandwich wrap had a torn corner, so it was dried out. Tart was a treacle tart with nuts! yum! And ketchup is different everywhere!
Some of the landscape on the way, including a marble quarry!
Some pics from the plane & airport...
When I went through security in the airport, they confiscated my lighter. Also turns out there is a smoking room in the airport! Like Chinese airport smoking rooms, they provide the means to light your cigarette! In China, they have cabinets with lighters mounted on them. Here in the IG Airport, they have the pictured electric lighter! A little bit scary! So, I have been in smoking rooms in airports in China, India, & Amsterdam. Today, was the first time I saw a woman in one!
When we entered the airport, my wife tugged my sleeve & said "Isn't that Tenzin Palmo?" Turns out it is Tenzin Palmo! Look her up on the web! She spent 12 years meditating in a cave, in isolation! When she finished her retreat, she felt strongly that she should return to the cave, but her teacher told her "No, you should found a nunnery for Tibetan women". So she did! A wonderful person! She had come to Edmonton a bunch of years ago, to give teaching. We were all blown away by her qualities as a Buddhist teacher! Look her & read her books. A very good tracher! BTW she was originally from Britain.
Some interior shots of the airport...
On our way to Indira Gandhi Airport to fly to Bangalore ( though it is called Bangaluru localy!). The last 2 images are the airport.
Please note the interesting skull...

20 December 2016

A night view down the main "street" of MKT
A regular on the main "street" of Majnu Ka Tila
The vendors in front of our hotel, Tsampa House. There is a young girl who begs in Majnu Ka Tila. When people give her money, she gives it to the man (likely her father) who runs the food stall pictured. Begging is a odd business in India...
Cows hanging out in the park at Majnu Ka Tila
A slightly wonky spherical view of our room
This is a screen shot from "Find Your Friends" app. I think the distance to my friend David Brown (or rather his laptop) is amusing!
The bridge that connects Majnu Ka Tila to the Indian market & views in both directions.
After all the guys were done with clothes shopping, we went for fresh juice!
The fellow, whose head can be seen at the top of the building, was shooing birds off the roof! Why, I haven't the foggiest idea!
The streets around the fabric & tailor shop.
Today we went to buy fabric, & get measured by the tailor for new traditional Tibetan clothes. I've ordered 2 chubas & 2 shirts. These will be "business" chubas rather than fancy dress up. I chose 2 very conservative fabrics (a grey & & darker grey with somber pattern). We will pick them up on Dec 26! Yaaah! Christmas in India! A special shout out to my dear friend Mavis: I missed you while fabric shopping! They have some absolutely gorgeous (my iPad auto-corrected "gorgeous " to bourgeois, lol! I suppose that would have been correct too!) silks & brocades! But it is Winter Holidays for students here, so the shop was jammed full! Susie opted to get a traditional Indian outfit. I haven't seen the fabric (although I did pay for the fabric), so like everyone else, I am eagerly waiting to see!
Some cute street dogs. The street dogs I have encountered in India have been quite peaceful & friendly but I still won't pet them as they are quite dirty, and appear to be somewhat insect plagued.
A style of razor wire I've never seen before! The hooks & razors are almost delicate looking...
I have now caught up my rest. Stomach has settled from the looonnngggg flight. Got cash & have mentally reoriented myself to India. Please follow me as I share bits of India...

19 December 2016

A sign... Thus ends the first day in India.
Our precious teacher, Kushok Lobsang Dhamchöe.
Some posters...
Our room in the Guest House at Majnu Ka Tila Tibetan Colony, New Delhi. And the mattresses are actually quite comfortable!
My first chai upon arriving in India. Cost me 210Rs. And it was a Xmas flavoured Starbucks-type chai! Real chai comes in a 2-3 oz tumbler & costs 10Rs.
Indira Gandhi (no relation of the Mahatma) Airport
A view of ... someplace.
Our plane guide book, & the seat-back map

18 December 2016

A contrail over the Black Sea...
Interesting views of clouds
The view from the smoking lounge in Schipol Airport, Amsterdam.
Getting to Amsterdam.

17 December 2016

More views on the way to Gaden Jangtse...