Short Impressions of Kathmandu

10 May 2009 - 8:52am Comments Off

As a friend of Ngeow and Yoke Fui, Roland had already been introduced to the Dharma but this was the first time that he would be going on a pilgrimage. Though he is very new to the Kechara group, Roland was constantly all-ears and all-eyes to learn, learn, learn as much as he could throughout the pilgrimage!

It was the first time for my wife Lin and I to participate in a pilgrimage and the 60-member group including ourselves had high expectations for the October 9 – 14 2008 trip. All of us were expecting an exceptional religious tour to Kathmandu, Nepal, as it was led by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche.

As it turned out, our expectations were more than adequately satisfied. Rinpoche showed us many sacred religious sites within Kathmandu and the Kathmandu Valley, many of which are not easily accessible by the general public. Before the visits each day, and also at each site, Rinpoche would spend time explaining the religious significance of the place. He also spent the time to assist each one of us to pray and receive blessings at each of the sacred sites.

We visited and prayed at the following sacred sites:

DAY 1

  • An ancient Avalokiteshwara Chapel in the Taiti area of Kathmandu
  • A White Tara Chapel also in the Taiti.
  • The largest stupa in Kathmandu – the Boudhanath Stupa – that contains relics of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha. We circumambulated and made prayers and candle offerings at the Stupa.
  • In a temple near the Stupa, we saw a large Maitreya Buddha statue.


DAY 2

  • In a temple near Pharphing, outside Kathmandu, we saw a rock image of the Self-Arising Tara.
  • Guru Rinpoche’s cave where he meditated and left his hand print on the rock at the entrance to the cave.
  • An old Vajrayogini chapel also at Pharphing, that had been looked after by a Nepalese family for generations.
  • Visited the elegant Mahabodhi Stupa and then prayed at the Vajrayogini temple nearby.
  • A night climb up 480-steps to a lovely Vajrayogini temple in the outskirts of Kathmandu – a demanding climb but well worth the labour.


DAY 3

  • Visited the Vajrayogini Chapel at Vijashwari, another lovely well-kept temple in Kathmandu.
  • The Swayambunath Stupa where we prayed at the Temple of Doors dedicated to the 16 Arhats, as well as at Bodhisattva Manjushri’s teaching site.
  • At night, we visited and prayed at Naropa’s cave which is next to Tilopa’s cave. Tilopa is the tantric guru of Naropa. Naropa was at one time the Abbot of Nalanda Monastery in India. The caves are sited along a river embankment, near to Kathmandu’s largest Hindu temple in Pashupati.

Our narrative cannot just end there without mentioning how skilful Rinpoche was in handling all 60 of us pilgrims. He conducted all pray sessions with the elegance and seriousness that the occasions called for. Outside of the visits to chapels and temples, Rinpoche showed us his witty and humorous side. Many of us had many good laughs throughout the trip because of Rinpoche’s wit.

We thoroughly enjoyed our two-week trip to Kathmandu. My wife and I had no hesitation in mentioning to Rinpoche to remember us when he is ready to lead another pilgrimage, probably to his home monastery (Gaden Monastery) in India, expected to be a few years from now.

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