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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Do-Drul Chorten, Gangtok

It was evening, and the light was fading as we arrived at the Do-Drul Chorten (also sometimes spelled as Duddul Choedten) in Gangtok. Samhith was tired, and all he wanted was to get back to the resort, and to his games with his friends. Leaving him behind in the car, we walked up the short path to the Stupa, which was so recognizable from the photos we had seen.




A board at the entrance told us an interesting story… of the place being haunted by spirits. Apparently, the spirits caught hold of anyone who came here. Eventually, a Lama from Tibet came here, subdued the spirits and set up a monastery. His successor later built the Stupa to keep the spirits away even after the demise of the Lama.  It reminded me of the scores of temples built to ward away evil spirits!



As we walked around, I was astounded by the sight of these rows and rows of lamps lit inside an enclosure…



The lamps reminded me of temples, and I wanted to light one too. There was no board, no information, and no one I could ask, though the place was full of monks. They were busy with their evening meals, which were being served. We approached one of them, and he gestured to us to take a plate. We did, and shared it between ourselves. Then, reverting back to our question, started looking around for someone who could help us out. Language seemed to be a major barrier, but eventually, we found a visitor who was happy to help us.




She had come from Bhutan, on a pilgrimage, one she made every year. The lamps, she said, were lit in memory of ancestors, to show them the path in the world they were in. Could we light the lamps? Yes of course, but they had already been lit for the day. We would have to come again in the morning and arrange for one. That wasn’t possible, but the thought was a good one. As we walked back towards the car and Samhith, it wasn’t the evil spirits we thought of, but the souls which, somewhere were grateful for the light provided by the lamps! 


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