At Karbandi Monastery in Phuentsholing, Bhutan, long lines of prayer flags dance overhead in the mountain breeze, and bells clang as enormous prayer wheels turn, spinning mantras engraved in special monastic Lanza script.
In front of the main temple stands a separate room filled with twinkling butter lamps, signifying the bright illumination of the light of wisdom. Several stupas, structures containing ancient Buddhist relics, guard the steps leading up to the temple.
Inside, monks carry out ceremonies with pounding drums, low-toned chanting, and blaring trumpets. Enormous statues of Buddhist masters and deities dominate the front of the room. Incredibly vivid and ornate paintings cover every surface. The atmosphere exudes a potent sense of stillness, even among the sparkling display of movement and color.
Pema Tshering, a 17 year old monk in residence at Karbandi Monastery, came from the Eastern part of Bhutan because he preferred the peace and camaraderie of a spiritual community to life in his home village. While he felt homesick at first, he says that as he has deepened into religious life here, he has grown more comfortable. Pema enjoys learning from his teachers, participating in ceremonies, and playing football with the other young monks in his free time.
Karbandi Monastery draws visitors with beautiful architecture and art, kindhearted residents, and a peaceful spiritual environment.