In the Land of Thunder Dragon - Day Six Culture and History in Bhutan
After yet another picturesque, yet harrowing 3 hr + transit over the twisting and turning east and west highway we arrived at the ancient fortress in Punakha. Upon arrival we were treated to one of the many unique and culturally ingrained charms of Bhutan, their festivals and pageantry of dances. As it was a regional holiday, all the local townspeople were in attendance at the fortress colorfully attired in their native dress. Many of the dances were either historical reenactments of events or religious beliefs. The choreography and kaleidoscope of pastel colors was remarkable and were told a microcosm of the events that transpire in the height of the annual festival season in September and October.
After a wonderful afternoon at the fortress we took a short hike to a temple, which was built in 1499 and is dedicated to the ‘Divine Madman’; sort of a Bhutanese, mythological figure of fertility with a VERY colorful and somewhat checkered history. To pay tribute and recognition of his powers of fertility, many of the homes located in the village leading up to the temple have extremely large, colorful and anatomically/graphically correct depictions of erect male penises. Not something one would typically see, yet something that locally just seemed to add to the charm and or the legend of the madman. Our visit to the temple concluded when we were all uniquely blessed with a wooden penis by a resident monk..now there’s a first for us all.
We then retired to our Aman hotel, whose main building was an antique farmhouse where we had a glass of wine and continued our reflections on the events of the day.