Phugtal Trek: A Conversation with Myself

Phugtal Monastery, 2500+ years old
Lungnak Valley, Zanskar; reached only by foot
Altitude: 3800 metres above sea level (Approx.)


The trek to the majestic Phugtal Monastery has been one of my toughest journeys. I feel privileged and fortunate to have embarked on this surreal experience! The trek meanders through the most beautiful deserted landscape which itself has myriad facets. The colours are thrown here and there; one has to gather them through mind’s eyes. Today as I write down my experience, I am re-living my journey. We were only a few travellers throughout the trek. The surreal calmness of the land infuses deep philosophical questions about life and death. The journey becomes a meditation.

The Tsarap Chu river is the constant companion. The turquoise water soothes my ever anxious mind. Slowly the tranquility touches my soul.

The trek has not been an easy one. It throws up challenges. One feels breathlessness while moving just a few steps upwards. On the one hand there is dynamism of life, and on the other there is stillness of death. Birth and Death are passages of Time. Birth is a constant uncertainty; the only certainty is Death. Therefore, I must respect every breath in order to embrace death gracefully.

Am I not wearing the mask of the persona constantly trying to create a socially acceptable identity! I look around to see the magic of light. Let me tread gently on this land.

The path is not smooth. The struggle is real. The kind lamas help me get up on my feet.

The stones and rocks have colours too. The magnanimity of the scale has the terrible beauty.

Ahh! Finally the bridge is in sight.

The mules and donkeys are the only carriers available here.

The honeycomb monastery hangs on the cliff. The sight is jaw-dropping! I have made it finally. A long gratifying smile fills up my face.

This is the Cave of Liberation!

It is Sunday, the monastic school is closed. There is some time for digital entertainment. Yes, the digits 0,1,0,1 continue!

4 thoughts on “Phugtal Trek: A Conversation with Myself

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