Let me start with the basics. Phobjikha Valley is also known as the Gantey Valley, and is vast. When we saw it from the Gangteng monastery, it seemed to us that the valley stretched upto the end of the world. Sonam, or guide, told us that come October, black-necked cranes from Tibet fly down to this valley and make it their home for the next 6 months of winters. They fly back home by the end of April. Apparently a big tourist draw, visitors to flock here from far and wide to see the graceful birds roosting away peacefully.
We, however, reached Phobjikha end May. Sonam informed that the last one had flown back to Tibet almost a month back. No worries, we shall go trekking out there for an hour tomorrow morning, he tried to cheer us. We were happy!
And woke up early morning the next day to go for a walk in the Gangtey village, came back to our Hotel Dewachen for breakfast, packed up and checked out. The plan was – Karma, our driver would wait for us with the van and bags at the other end of the trek, while we go for an hour-long trek in the Phobjikha Valley. Perfect!
Wait! It got even more perfect! Half an hour into the trek through the valley and we entered marshy land. Sonam got a little alamed and called his friend in Gangtey, giving him our positions. The friend figured that we had headed out the wrong way and immediately diverted us to the hills filled with pines. Never in life had we been so happy to discover that we had lost of way. We were giggling, much to the distress of Sonam. He worried about our delay in reaching Paro. We rejoiced over the fact that God had given us a lease of a few more moments in that ethereal valley!
Ethereal I said. And you are wondering why? That’s because, Phobjikha Valley was filled with flowers. Dainty little lilac Primulas swarmed the valley till the end of the world. The vast expanse in front of us had just us and the valley, the meadows, the little birds, the blue and yellow wild flowers, the dark green and blue hills, the monastery far away, the village far away. This was Nirvana. An astounding feeling of joy, happiness, calm and contentment crept upon us.
We walked and walked, including my 6 year old daughter, in delight and bliss. Past the valley, then onto the pine hills, across a rivulet, through a charming farm, then onto a steep hill again to where Karma was waiting for us. It had been four hours, instead of the planned one. And 7 kilometers. And infinite happiness.
Now, when I look back to that day, I remember only these lines of Wordworth….
“For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the Primulas….