After a slow start to the morning and a long yoga practice, I join Dawa and Basang to Chiwong Monastery. I trekked there in April, blown away by its beauty and its amazing perch atop a hill at nearly 3000 meters so I couldn't wait to get back.
Back on the motorbikes, and this time it isn’t the (relatively) smooth paved road of yesterday’s journey, but dirt and sand and mud and rock. Apparently, the locals, when Dawa had asked about the road ahead, said that it was “like a highway” - Dawa and I surmised that we must have rather different definitions of highway.
The road required that I frequently get off and walk - much to my relief as a) when given a choice, if a horse isn’t an option, I’d rather walk anywhere anytime and b) it was just pushing my limits and sensibilities a bit far to stay on the bike when it got especially slippery and scary.
But when we get to Chiwong, the bumpy road is well worth it. The view from the monastery’s perch on the cliff side, is as stunning as I remembered. The hills flanking it are crisscrossed with prayer flags, the squares of red, yellow, green, blue, and white cloth flapping lazily in the breeze. The hill ascending behind the main temple is dotted with monks’ quarters and the Rinpoche’s house, a school building, and a kitchen.
After a mosey around, and a look at the building works on the Rinpoche’s new house, we sit in the kitchen with a collection of monks, for a cup of tea and a biscuit. We sip the delicious masala tea, the tangy spices of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg a feast for the tastebuds, and listen to the trumpeting fanfare and chants that precede the creation of the mandala for Mani Rimdu. Mani Rimdu is the three-day Sherpa festival that begins in two weeks and the mandala will take the full two weeks to create - an intricate, and large, patterned picture of sand. It is with resignation that we pull ourselves away - knowing that we need to head back before the sun slips behind the hills to the west. It’s clear to see why this place was chosen for a monastery - one does feel closer to the heavens.
If you would like to visit the Chiwong Monastery then join our Nepal Hiking Adventure