for those of you who don’t know, you can enlarge any photo in the blog by clicking on it some background before we begin: bhutan is divided into 20 administrative districts, called dzongkhags. the administrative center of the dzongkhag is the fortress-like dzong, which contains both government offices and a monastery/temple. to the right is a photo of the dzong in punakha, which is one of the sites where the king celebrated his wedding over this past october 13-15. in october, monasteries and dzongs across bhutan celebrate tshechu, or “tenth day festival”, to commemorate the birth of guru rinpoche (see previous post). tshechu consists…

tiger’s nest

the tiger’s nest (paro taktsang) is an iconic monastery in bhutan. guru rinpoche introduced buddhism to bhutan in the 8th century. according to legend, a tigress carried guru rinpoche on her back up to the peak of a mountain, where he meditated in a cave for three months. monks subsequently founded the monastery around the site of the cave in 1692. it underwent expansion and renovation over the years, and now contains a variety of beautifully-decorated sanctuaries that are, of course, off limits to photography. (as a photographer, it is sometimes difficult to remember that things are worth looking at…

monks, monks, monks (part 2)

one day, we came upon a housing-blessing ceremony, called a lakh, which is the indian word for 100,000, because the monks recite their blessing 100,000 times. they were fine with our being in there, so eleven of us spent approximately 40 minutes in these cramped rooms, shooting away happily. apparently, we’re not supposed to reproduce the text on the scrolls, so if you’re looking at these photos, you should probably watch out for falling pianos or dengue-bearing mosquitos.

monks, monks, monks (part 1)

bhutan is a buddhist country, and the culture is inextricably linked with the religion. there are monks everywhere; many boys are educated in monasteries; even the district government offices are located in monasteries.  going in, it is tempting to imagine that the monks are saintly … … aloof … … and mysterious … … but the truth is that a lot of them are just kids.    next: monks, monks, monks (part 2).

bhutan – scenery

i’ve just returned from a 10-day trip in bhutan with a group of photographers. the basic stats on bhutan: a population of just under 700,000 people in an area of 18,146 square miles, sandwiched between india and china at elevations of up to 23,000 feet above sea level. the geography and its architecture may remind one of switzerland or austria:     (note the chilies drying on the roof: the national dish is ema datsi, sliced chilies in a cheese sauce. you will find chilies drying on almost every roof.) the views of the himalayas are pretty impressive.  these photos were…