Going by the Buddhist beliefs, Sanjauli, about 3 kms away from the hill station of Shimla, is generously blessed. Thousands of colourful flags carrying printed Buddhist prayers and images of the mystic Wind Horse, flutter on top of the hill that overlooks this town.
Tradition of Prayer Flags
The flags have been there since 1962 when Lama Jinpa, a prominent Tibetan refugee monk established the Jonang monastery at the top of Sanjauli hill. As per Tibetan tradition, the monks and other hundred odd Tibetans, living in the neighbourhood, tie long strings of printed prayer flags at the highest point of this hill. The flags come in vibrant hues of blue, white, red, green and yellow. Devotees replenish these flags from time to time as a mark of gratitude during various occasions — be it in the memory of a loved one, or on an auspicious day like Losar (New Year) or just as a routine offering to the deities.
One early morning during my recent stay at the monastery, I walked up to the hill to witness the prayer flags hanging between the two adjacent cliffs. From here, most parts of the Sanjauli town can be seen in the distance below. Strong winds made the flags look like a colorful fleet of pelicans flying in perfect arc formations. Over the years, a size-able prayer platform surrounded by a row of Tibetan prayer wheels on one side and a mini pine jungle on the other, has come up to give company to the array of prayer flags.
Tibetan Prayer Wheels
Tibetan prayer wheels are colorful cylindrical drums which carry rolls of paper with prayers written on them. Normally these drums stand vertically at waist levels on a stationary axis so that any passing devotee can rotate the drums.
Each rotation of a drum is believed to bring the benefits of these prayers in favor of the devotee. Some of the wheels are at a much higher level and wind motors are fixed on them to ensure that they keep rotating automatically by the passing wind.
How to reach Sanjauli
Sanjauli used to be a twin town of Shimla. But thanks to the ever expanding Shimla, it is now a part of city. By train, one can reach Shimla by a combination of Kalka Mail and the Himalayan Queen toy train, one of the most scenic train journeys in India.
Once in Shimla, you can take a taxi or a local bus to the footsteps of the famous Dhingu Mata Mandir. Walk about two kilometres to the monastery which is located near the temple.
By Kavita Gaba
About the Author
Kavita’s interest in travelling is only trumped by her love for travelling. She is deeply involved with issues of ecotourism and conservation.