Last week in Arunachal Pradesh, a state in India’s north east, which borders on Tibet, I ticked off an item from my bucket list.
I finally got to visit Tawang, a stunning Buddhist monastery overlooking the little town of the same name.
I have wanted to visit this important monastery for years, and was excited for weeks at the thought of the visit – but when it came to it, conditions were far from ideal.
For one thing, it was misty and cloudy and grey, with not a trace of sunshine.
And secondly, there was renovation work taking place, including bamboo scaffolding covering the whole of the main facade.
BUT…the visit was magical and very emotional after all these years of wanting to visit, because:
- The renovation was in preparation for the visit next month of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which made it alright.
- We were the only people visiting. And how special is that?!
Imagine wandering round such a beautiful temple, with no other visitors there.
There were workmen, admittedly, and a friendly monk who explained what preparations are being done for the visit of His Holiness, and despite the “Visitors not allowed beyond this point” sign, kindly allowed us to wander and explore parts of the main prayer hall that are otherwise off limits.
I am quite sure that would not have happened if there had been crowds of people there…
All of which is to say (as though you even need me to tell you!) that visiting places isn’t only about seeing said place “at its best” and getting that sunny, blue-sky “trophy” photo. The Instagrammable moment, in other words.
That is all well and good, but there is most definitely magic in quiet, misty solitariness.
It’s all a question of extracting the best from every situation, and not allowing oneself to be disappointed if conditions aren’t conventionally perfect.
Tawang was every bit as wonderful as I had hoped, and for the next couple of days, we were on a mission to get a photo of the whole complex from the ridge opposite, with all the little homes of the monks that cluster round the base of the main monastery.
Any time there was a slight parting of the clouds, we’d leap out of the car and take photos!
On reflection, I would much rather see a place in cloudy, misty conditions and minus the crowds…
And yes, we finally got to see the complex in all its glory as we managed a couple of grab shots 🙂
Tawang was stunning.
And deeply moving.