Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bhutan Beauty

It's easy to find beautiful things to photograph in Bhutan. The people, the mountains, the temples--I hardly knew where to point my camera first! Here are a few of my favorite shots from this gorgeous, landlocked little country.

The Himalayas, as seen from Dochula Pass (elev. 9,800 ft.). The range forms the northern border of Bhutan with Tibet:


This is one of 108 lookalike stupas in Dochula Pass. A stupa is erected to the memory of the dead and contains a relic inside. The Queen Mother of Bhutan ordered these built to commemorate the dead--on both sides--of a 2003 conflict that Bhutan fought with the Assam region of India:


A building, in the capitol city of Thimpu, bedecked with ribbons and awash in food gifts for a festival:


Monks praying at the festival:


Little children, the world over: Is there anything so lovely?:


Veggies at an organic market, Thimpu:


Chilis (and a piece of meat or two) hanging out to dry. The Bhutanese love hot, spicy food:


Old World meets New World in this monk's hand:


Dawn comes to Thimpu:


An offering left at the mountainside site of the seated "Buddha Dordenma," which at 169 feet tall, is one of the largest in the world:


This fearsome image was carved and painted on a mountainside. It is meant to remind us of our uglier impulses, and to curb them:


You can see a bit of the artwork in the upper left corner of the photo below. This building houses two water-driven prayer wheels:


Hydrangeas in the courtyard of a monastery:


These little mini-stupas are made and painted at home, then left with a prayer for wellbeing or good luck. People leave them in clusters like this--often we would come upon a bunch of them tucked into a shelf of rock, or under an overhang along a mountain path. Here they've been placed on a wooden bridge over a mountain stream:


Gorgeous woven silk shawls for sale in Thimpu. I was attracted to the olive-green one in the middle row, with the white tag showing. I backed away quickly when I saw that the asking price was $3,000! (Later I learned this weaving is so painstaking, a worker might only add one inch to the length of the shawl per day):



Traditional Bhutanese window frames are ornately carved and painted. This stunning example is on the National Museum of Textiles in Thimpu:


Truck drivers decorate their vehicles with wild colors and flashy, elaborate trappings. They were so much fun to see!:


Bhutan grows a LOT of rice. Until I visited, I'd never seen rice paddies that weren't flooded. In the fall, the fields are drained to prepare them for harvest. We saw these fields in November, when olive greens and golds predominated:



A typical garden between a restaurant and a private dwelling, Punakha Valley. Orange-yellow marigolds (foreground) are a common sight in Bhutan--the blossoms are used to make garlands for religious ceremonies:


Temples in Bhutan are often hundreds and hundreds of years old. Shoes are left at the entrance to preserve the ancient wooden floors and as a mark of respect and humility:


Chilies drying on the rooftop, prayer flags, and the distant Himalayas: Pretty much sums up  Bhutan for me:


Next up: The critters of Bhutan.



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