The story begins not so long ago when the Ancient One gave her word to the gangly knight, “if you can battle the horde of blue dragons and pass through the valley of poisonous fumes and make it to my lair, the path to Shangri-La, The Mindrolling Monastery with its magnificent treasures will be revealed to you.”
It was a statement made on a whim and as stories go, the Ancient One grossly underestimated the knight’s enthusiasm and will. Before the sun could begin its journey westward, lo behold, a little weary but eyes blazing with fire, he stood claiming his prize.
“I gave you my word ( sigh!) but how and what sorcery did you use to reach me so soon?”
“Come, come make haste Ancient One . Don’t dally . The path is treacherous and the light grows dim . My silver steed awaits us for I will not wait any longer. ”
The way was short but the turns were many, meandering into bends unexplained. There were false starts and middles, but hope stayed afloat as the scenery shifted from Chandni Chowk to China and just like the cupboard opened to Narnia, the travellers had reached their destination.
The eyes drank in the sweeping curve of the pathway as the lofty stupa arose in the distance lifting their weary spirits.
Shangri-La was working its mythical magic already.
As the rays of the sun set aflame the bell shaped pagodas , scores of maroon robed monks descended interrupting their reverie. The monks soon drifted away, some serious, oblivious of their presence while others chanted their mantras enclosed in a blissful bubble of their own creation.
Drawn by the colourful prayer flags fluttering in the sunshine, the duo made their way deeper into this beautiful yet alien territory. They chanced upon tiny drum like objects that turned like wheels with fascinating familiar inscriptions that immediately turned undecipherable under their concentrated gaze.
The young knight couldn’t resist turning these wheels all laid out in a row.
“These are prayer wheels . Clockwise every time”, rang the Ancient One’s voice gently as she lead the way.
The breeze picked the clacking of the wheels as they swung round and round, carrying their fervent prayers – for guidance, to be able to choose wisely and the strength to bravely face their demons.
The burden felt less for both the young and the old as the beauty and calm of the place seeped in, the tinkling bells tugging their spirits in the twilight.
It was indeed a worthy quest.
May Buddha’s grace be upon all.
All photos were clicked on the Ancient One’s awesome device called iPhone 6.