Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ayuthaya Thailand

The World Heritage Site of Ayuthaya  is located about an hour's drive from Bangkok. It was the capital of Siam around 1400 AD and a trading port as well. The temples, many of which are now in ruins have been partly restored and give some indication of the pomp and splendour of those times.

Wat Phra Si Sanpet

Monks at Wat Phra Si Sanpet

Reclining Buddha - Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Mahathat

Prayer Hall of Wihaat Mongkhon Bophit

Elephant rides on the streets of Ayuthaya

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tenzing Norgay: Man of Everest

“… For what is Everest without the eye that sees it? It is the hearts of men that make it big or small.” Tenzing Norgay in Man of Everest

Sometime in 1971, a young lad aged around ten years and his grandmother walked out of Das Studio, a premier photo gallery in Darjeeling.  The boy clutched an envelope in his hand as though his life depended on it. The duo then walked past Glenarys, Keventers, The Mount Everest Hotel and continued down to Tonga Road. They stopped in front of a modest looking house and were greeted by the shrill barking of a number of small Lhasa Apsos. The door opened and my grandmother said “Tenzing, can you please autograph this, my grandson is a great admirer of yours.” I gazed spellbound as the great man signed his name with a flourish  and then asked us in for tea.  More than forty years later that postcard is still with me today – a cherished possession!

The year 2014 marks the birth centenary of Tenzing Norgay and in all likelihood will pass unnoticed.

It is generally believed that Tenzing was born in Nepal in a village called Thami, a stone’s throw away from the Sherpa capital, Namche Bazaar. In fact, he was born in 1914 in Tibet on a grazing alp called Ghang La, surrounded by emerald lakes and high peaks. Tenzing was the eleventh child out of fourteen of his mother Kinzom. His father Mingma was a yak herdsman and Tenzing spent his early years grazing yaks in the Kharta valley with the shadow of Everest looming above him. Many years later in Darjeeling, Tenzing named his house “Ghang La” after the alp where he was born. Sadly, his father Mingma lost all his yaks in an epidemic and with no work to be had in Tibet, the young Tenzing was sent to Nepal.

Around forty five miles west of the Kharta valley, lies the high and glaciated pass of Nangpa La (18,750 ft) which was a trade route between Tibet and the Khumbu in Nepal. This was the pass which Tenzing crossed, when as a young boy he came to work for a sherpa family in the Khumbu.  However, Tenzing had set his sights on being a climbing sherpa and realized that he needed to get away to Darjeeling – the base for all expeditions. He also fell in love with Dawa Phuti who belonged to a wealthy family in Thami.  Dawa’s parents were against the match and so the two of them accompanied by some other sherpa friends eloped to Darjeeling around 1932. 

After the tragic disappearance of Mallory and Irvine on Everest in 1924, the British did not attempt the mountain for several years.  In 1933 they returned to Darjeeling to select sherpas for the expedition led by Hugh Ruttledge. Lacking experience, Tenzing climbed the steps to the Planters Club to meet the selection committee.  However, the “sahibs” dismissed him and he spent the summer tending cows in Alubari, Darjeeling


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