Punakha and the distinctive Chimi Lhakhang

Not your usual tourist destination, Chimi Lhakhang will surprise and intrigue even the most experienced explorer. Keep your eyes pealed for some memorable sites and unique experiences.

Off the well warn travel routes of Asia, the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is full of mystique, history and spiritual enchantment. On a global scale Bhutan is minuscule, tucked between the highly populated countries of China and India, Bhutan is notoriously protective over its borders and its culture. It is remarkable, uncaring and unconcerned with Western notions of success and money; it is a unique place to visit. The scenery compliments the philosophy of Bhutan; spectacular mountainous valleys, clear rivers and beautiful architecture.

Expect an unusual twist on arrival in Bhutan, for there is a massive appreciation of phallic structures, paintings and sculptures. Driving the streets you catch yourself double taking; was that really what I think it was painted on the walls of that home, shop or restaurant?

Unlike western cultures, these phallic symbols are not to insult but instead have deep spiritual significance. To understand their importance a trip to Chimi Lhakhang is essential; a Buddhist monastery, devoted to saint Lama Drupka Kinley (tenderly referred to as the Divine Madman).

Thousands of people travel to Chimi Lhakhang each year, mostly to receive a blessing for children and to cure their infertility. There are numerous rumors of westerners making the pilgrimage and falling pregnant shortly after their trip, you cannot help but feel slightly moved by being here. Interestingly, the blessing is an exceedingly different experience to what we might practice in a Christian ceremony. Females who come to cure their infertility are hit on the head by the presiding Monk, notably this is done with a 10-inch ivory, wood and bone phallus as well as the bow and arrow supposedly used by the Divine Madman himself hundreds of years ago.

Irrespective of whether you trust in the power of the Monk’s blessing or not, the sight of a tourist being smacked with giant genitalia is certainly a unique and memorable experience. Regardless of the phallic structures, Chimi Lhakhang is unquestionably a tranquil and charming place to visit.

Unconventional Conventions are visiting Chimi Lhakhang in November 2015 as part of their Bhutan conference. For more information CLICK HERE