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166 Kms from Purnea
Best time to visit - October- April
Often called as the "Queen of all Hill Stations", this is one of the most popular in the whole world. This place is wrap...
(Oct 8)In Siliguri, I learnt that transport to Darjeeling had resumed. With a spare half day, I went with it. The bus cruised through winding scenic route, greeting with misty verdant hills, eventually coming to a halt at the highest altitude railway station, Ghum (7300ft). Sporadic but intense rain called out for some tea. I then paid a visit to “Guru Sakya" and “Yiga Chholing” monasteries; so serene just to be in the sanctity of these places. A monk shared some insights to the recent state affairs, how demands for a separate Gorkha state was creating unrest, etc. Thankfully things had returned to normalcy that made this visit possible. Darjeeling was rather nippy, toy trains and the quaint hills making for a picture postcard. Ethereal views of valley, by the window made lunch all the more satiating. In the evening, I left for New Jalpaiguri to catch my train to Guwahati.
8. 'Barfi': ‘itti si khushi’ in Darjeeling toy train
Day 2Since I had nothing productive to do for the next day, I decided to ride to Darjeeling and have some tea at the famous "Glenary's". My big brother Santanu had initially planned to just see me off till the foothills but the sight of the hills persuaded him to join me till Darjeeling. A foggy-rainy ride of 3 hours and we found ourselves at the famous mall road of Darjeeling. We walked, we ate and we clicked to our heart's content and after a refreshing cup of tea at Glenary's we started our ride downhill. I was riding on hills after months and I made the most of it. By this time Miss Mallick had finally boarded her train which was by now close to 15 hours late. Late at night I went and picked her up from the railway station and even though I was shocked and worried after seeing the size of the backpack she was carrying, I was excited with the prospect of "The Proposal Ride" finally kick-starting the next day after much delay.
Darjeeling, the queen of the hills in West Bengal, India, is hitting the news for all the wrong reasons nowadays. Once peace prevails in the valley again, there can be no better quintessential place to relax than Darjeeling. Nature has been very kind on Darjeeling in terms of aesthetic beauty. But, unfortunately the history of Darjeeling and its people is disturbing. Darjeeling saw power struggles among various community groups. The British Raj ruled over the town for quite sometime and its influence is visible even today. The British frequented Darjeeling as a summer retreat and the tradition has been picked up by the Indians. Residents from West Bengal and other neighbouring states flock to Darjeeling in the summer months.If you are tight on time and wondering how to enjoy Darjeeling in one-day flat then you are in the right place.
Darjeeling, like its contemporary Indian hill-stations such as Shimla and Dehra Dun, is famed for its boarding schools. Brought up in strict discipline, pupils go onto graduating into well-developed alumni. The picture in focus, is set in the football field of St Joseph's School, North Point. The hallowed portals, ranked as the fifteenth best boarding school in the country, have seen members of the Bhutanese Royal Family, and former billiards champion Michael Ferreira in their prestigious alumni list.While walking along the hills of Darjeeling, this sight is very common. Jam-packed houses, with little flecks of green peeking out, and a Buddhist pagoda, that stands out. Buddhism is popular among the majority Gorkha population, though there is a significant base for Hinduism as well.
The hotel is located within a few minutes distance from the Gandhi Road. The property was actually a residential family property. The couple came up with the idea of constructing a hotel for the tourists. They constructed the upper floor for lodging and the ground floor was kept for the restaurant and café.
Things to do: Take a ride on the Himalayan Railway to the Ghum Monastery; have a candlelight dinner at the iconic Glenary's; take an hour-long walk from the main town to the picturesque Happy Valley Tea Estate; try your luck at spotting a red panda at the Singalila National Park.
DarjeelingThose who want to avoid the Darjeeling crowd can stay at Rangaroon and yet get all the taste of Darjeeling tour. You can easily make a day trip to Darjeeling and visit all the places of attraction. Visit the Darjeeling Zoo, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Japanese Peace Pagoda, Darjeeling Mall and other places of interest. You can also take a visit to the Ghoom Monastery and the railway Museum at Ghoom Station.Stay At:There is only one homestay at Rangaroon. – Khaling Cottage Homestay. It is a very beautiful homestay having 4 rooms in total. The hosts are really friendly and go all out to make your stay comfortable and memorable. Their motto is "Come as guests, Leave as family". And the will really become your family after your stay.
How wrong can I be?! The climate at Tiger Hill – the famous spot to see the mighty mountain, put the one at Pelling to shame. The huge crowd gathered on the hill sadly started walking back with disappointment.Like at Sikkim here also the tour was arranged by the hotel people. The morning tour included two more spots also for which I didn’t bother to get up from the seat at all in that rainy climate.Another cab came around 9.30 AM for the next round of sightseeing called the 5 point tour. The climate was villain again at many spots.
215 Kms from Purnea
Best time to visit - September to December
Gangtok is the capital city of the north Indian state of Sikkim. Built up as a Buddhist journey site in the 1840s, the c...
Drive from Lachen to Gangtok.Duration - 5 hours
New Jalpaiguri to GangtokStay at Gangtok for a day and enjoy the different things to see around. One of the best places to visit the Enchey Monastery and to party at Cafe Live n Loud.Duration (NJP to Gangtok) - 5 hours
Day 9The morning started with a disaster! I found that my phone was completely formatted and all my pictures, videos and data were lost. For convenience sake, I had clicked all the pictures and the videos of this ride on my phone but it was lost forever, including the proposal video. It was heart shattering news.We somehow managed to pull ourselves together and decided to seek some peace at the Rumtek monastery. Within a few minutes we were our cheery selves as there was nothing which we could do about the lost video. We consoled ourselves by saying that the video is sure to be in our hearts till the rest of our lives. Thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp we managed to at least salvage the pictures we had uploaded and shared.
Day 8There is a term in Bengali called "Lyadh-Khawa" which basically translates to lazing around. That is exactly what we did on this day and we deserved every bit of it. We woke up at noon, had brunch on our beds, shopped at the M.G. Marg in the evening, saw the whole city from the ropeway and went to a place called "Cafe Live and Loud" at night. Now I have visited the famous Someplace Else in Kolkata and the Hard Rock Cafe in Delhi but the whole feel of this cafe was different. The local band which was playing was extraordinarily good; the food was lip smacking and they best part was that they had got their LIITs right. We let our hair down and simply had a blast!
Day 7Yet again, we were welcomed by a landslide after riding for a few kilometres. Compared to the size of the landslides we had seen in the past days this was a small one and we were sure that it would be taken care in a couple of hours. Since the last two days we had been riding in continuous rain and every piece of cloth that we were wearing or we had in our bags was wet. The sun was shining brightly after days and since we had nothing better to do while waiting for the road to be cleared, we decided to open our own clothes wholesale shop at the side of the road.
Yakten is only 35 km from Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim.Nearest Airport: Bagdogra is the nearest airport and is 145 km away.Nearest Railhead: New Jalpaiguri (NJP) is the nearest Railway head.From NJP or Bagdogra, you will get shared as well as private vehicles to Gangtok. From Gangtok, you have to book a car to Yatken.
Gangtok is a hub for exploring Sikkim. It is a beautiful hilly city with several options for tourists to enjoy and explore.Here are some things to do in and around Gangtok.
To promote winter tourism, the Sikkim Tourism Board organizes a winter carnival every year, in the months of December and January. Recently, the carnival has been renamed after the Red Panda, the state animal of Sikkim. The festival is organized in state capital Gangtok.
There is one major problem in Gangtok that no cab is allowed to move before 10 am. due to which we had to change some of our plans but it was also good to rest a little more in our rooms. We left for Lachung at around 11 am. On our way were some really amazing waterfalls, the sight seeing of which was also included in the package. We reached Lachung at around 6 pm after many stops at waterfalls. Keep in mind that Lachung & Lachen are two different places.The price to Lachung and back was around INR 1200-1500 per pax which included all the meals, stay & travel and excluded the charges to visit "Yumthang Valley & Zero Point" which costed INR 2500 for whole cab, which can accommodate around 10 people. We also wished to visit the "Katao Military Base Camp" which also costed another INR 2500 for the cab. Our companions in the cab were pretty good people and agreed for the same.
We reached Gangtok at around 11 am. , settled and had lunch at 'Chopsticks' (situated on main M.G. Road, had delicious chinese food). We started our 1st day of sight seeing from the Hanuman Tok which is considered the highest point in Gangtok and has a spectacular view of whole Gangtok.
307 Kms from Purnea
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,October,November,December
One would assume that Thimphu is still settling into its role as the capital of one of the happiest countries in the wor...
You will have enough time to explore Paro (visit Tiger’s Nest perhaps!) and still reach Thimpu in time, because Paro to Thimpu is a short stretch of nearly 50km, and a smooth highway connecting two cities is moreover the best in the country, thus saving you enough time no matter when you leave.Since Paro has the only international airport in Bhutan, and Thimpu is the capital, the highway moreover stays good in shape throughout the year. It takes one and a half to two hours to travel between the two cities.
Day 3, Nov 3rd, 2017: Our hotel was right opposite to the clock tower which is supposed to be the most happening area of Thimphu. We strolled in the beautiful clean streets of Norzing Lam, which was surrounded by green mountains & pine trees everywhere. The mountains were running parallel to the road & the air was so fresh that you instantly will feel the happiness within you. We were amused to find that at 08:00 hrs no shop is open for breakfast or anything. They have this protocol of everything opening at 09:00, to which they strictly adhere to..Sharp at 09:00, we met Vishnu, our trip guide at the reception of the hotel. His attire, posture, body language everything was very formal & gentle.
The bus dropped us at the taxi stand in Thimphu by 7:30 pm. Our hotel was about 2 kms from the bus stop. While we were bargaining with the taxi driver, someone asked us if we wanted a lift to the hotel. My friend was a bit sceptical as we were new to the place and being from India, it is not easy to trust strangers; but later we agreed to take the lift. While driving us to the hotel, he introduced himself as the Chief Auditing Commissioner of Bhutan. Yes, that was when we realized how helpful Bhutanese people are to their guests. He not only dropped us to the hotel but also helped us plan places we should be visiting the next day.
1. Thimphu - We landed at the Paro International Airport from Kolkata and headed to Thimphu for a 2N stay (due to some delay in airlines departure from kolkata we reached Paro later than expected). The evening was spent exploring Thimphu on foot. This capital city is unique in the way that there are no traffic lights at intersections! All traffic movements are on mutual consent and needless to say, they rarely have any road accidents.
Only a 2-hour drive from Paro, Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan is the most happening town of the country. Here, you can give your honeymoon a touch of fun, frolic and party!Where To Stay:
National Institute for Zorig Chusum in Thimpu is a must visit! It’s a government initiative to preserve local art and craft. It offers courses on Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts which includes calligraphy, painting, sculpture, wood carving, casting, pottery, embroidery, tailoring, weaving, masonry, silver and gold smith workshops. The discipline and skills that the students exhibit is extremely impressive!
Next day, hail a cab and travel to the capital town, Thimphu. Aim to keeping this cab to get around in Thimphu, as it be a more convenient and cheaper option since cab fares are high there. Moreover, the cab drivers in Bhutan are very gracious and will always indulge in a conversation about His Highness, Bhutan, and Buddhism. Thus, you'll be learning a lot while you're in transit. You can contact Mr. Mangal Singh at +975 17607472 to book for a trip.** (Read Part 2 for Thimphu, Punakha and Haa Valley)Cover Image Credits: http://www.mountainechoes.org/
261 Kms from Purnea
I reached Patna around 1:00 pm and got down at the Mithapur bus stand. From there I took an auto to the railway station ...
I reached Patna around 1:00 pm and got down at the Mithapur bus stand. From there I took an auto to the railway station and from there another auto to Patna Sahib. By the way, if you want to know how I found out about the right autos and buses, I did what every clueless person would do; ASK. I asked my fellow bus travelers, auto drivers, locals as well as the supreme ‘Google’ and they were all happy to guide me.I had to rush as my train, although expected to be late, was set to arrive at 6:00 pm on the Patna Junction and I was yet to retrieve my suitcase from my friend’s house. It was simply a race against time. From Patna Sahib, one can either walk to the gurdwara or take another auto. The final road resembles any crowded old city such as Sadar bazar in my home town of Meerut or Chawri Bazaar in Delhi. There are all kind of shops and a great many tea stalls.Takht Shree Harmandir Sahib ji is one of the five holiest sites in Sikhism, as it is here that the tenth sikh guru Gobind Singh was born. It isn’t as majestic as Golden temple in Amritsar but is worth visiting once. It is undergoing a major makeover and once that is finished, it will be able to match upto the golden temple in its grandeur. Still, the white main building is beautifully constructed and the inside sanctum was open to devotees to pray.
The plan was to reach Patna on the afternoon of Dec 8 and attend my friend’s wedding on Dec 9. This was supposed to be followed by a one day exploration of Patna on Dec 10. After Patna, I had planned a tour of Buddhist towns of Bodhgaya, Rajgir and Nalanda till Dec 13, when I had to be back to catch the same notorious Magadh Express from Patna Junction in the evening. As happens in most travel journeys, not everything went according to the plan. I entered Patna not on the afternoon but on the midnight of Dec 8 and made my way to the venue where my friend was set to be married next day.Anyone’s first impressions of Patna are mostly similar. It is a crowded city, full of traffic jams and chaos. The city has no inner public transportation system and shared autos is the only medium to commute. While autos do a decent job of connecting different parts of the city, the autorickshaw pilots (sarcasm intended) cram as many humans as possible to make an extra buck. So, until and unless one is okay to squeeze himself/herself in a corner of a crowded open auto, it’s better to take a cab. I took the auto.Bihar, however, has a dignified resilience behind all the decadence and one can feel it while traveling around. The people are hospitable and can laugh away all their troubles with a nice sense of humor. I had a great time at my friend’s wedding and as she departed with her husband next morning, it seemed strange that my arrival in Patna should coincide with someone’s departure.I was too tired from the wedding to venture outside on the Dec 10, the day after wedding. The whole day was spent resting at my friend’s house and feasting on some delicious home cooked food.
My base camp for most part. Interestingly more chaotic that any other part of Bihar I'd been to
318 Kms from Purnea
Patan : 3rd Busiest city of Nepal after Kathmandu and PokharaTake a taxi to Patan and indulge in more temples sight-see...
I liked the Patan Durban Square cultural heritage.
296 Kms from Purnea
However, next day I packed my backpack and leaving my suitcase and comfort behind, boarded the bus to Bodhgaya from the ...
However, next day I packed my backpack and leaving my suitcase and comfort behind, boarded the bus to Bodhgaya from the Mithapur bus stand in Patna at 8:15 in the morning. I enjoy bus rides as it gives a chance to look at the inner cities and towns of new states and absorb the land as a whole instead of looking at some isolated sites.
3 Bodh GayaSet amidst verdant lawns is the magnificent fifty two meter tall Mahabodhi Temple. A chamber on top houses a figure of Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother. Outside in the sunken courtyard stands the fifth generation Bodhi Tree. Seven spots within the temple are sacred because it was at each of these spots the Buddha stayed a week meditating after attaining Enlightenment. Bodh Gaya is quite an international town with monasteries, guesthouses, meditation centers and Buddhist temples from different countries. The Archaeological Survey of India has a small museum located nearby which houses antiquities evacuated in and around Bodh Gaya. The Tibetan, Thai Japanese, Korean and Chinese built temples in recent times.
2 Varanasi – Bodh Gaya (7 hours)Leave this morning for Bodh Gaya and on arrival check-in to the Hotel. Bodh Gaya is the most important place of pilgrimage of Buddhism. Bodh Gaya lies in fertile lands watered by the Nairanjana (Phalgu) river. Across the river more than 2500 years ago, the young ascetic Siddhartha, gazed at the serene landscape of the Uruvela village (modern Bodh Gaya). The tree under which Buddha attained wisdom is called the Bodhi Tree.
Scientists and saints have bickered over centuries. Given existentialist spectrums (the bondage by cause and effect (karma) or astrology (your life designed by you from the cave of creation or your karma or both or whatever); to freedom (through ascended masters and the law of attraction, etc. etc.), why a pilgrimage?The reason is Dharma, the nature, of what the mind contains. Buddha’s greatest gift to humanity is the re-discovery and teaching of the practice of Vipassana. Vipassana, purifies the mind and keeps it pure through practice.Purity is the absence of contamination. The truth is to be known, to be lived, to be given your own form and expression. And the truth is, the nature, of what the mind contains.
The city of Gaya is home to four major religions of India; Buddhism, Jain, Hinduism and Islam. Gaya's origins date back several thousand years when the epic of Ramayana was written. The Buddhist relevance of the city is for being the place where Siddhartha achieved enlightenment and became Buddha, the Enlightened One. Just 11km from the city is the exact tree under which enlightenment was attained. Travellers, especially Buddhists, from all over the world visit this particular place to pay respect to the place that gave birth to the religion of Buddhism.Where to eat: Hari Om International Café on the Bodh Gaya Road is known to serve the best ginger tea and coffee in Gaya. For European offerings and Italian dishes, head to Be Happy Café.Where to stay: Check out Hotel Buddha and Maha Bodhi Resort, which are both at a convenient distance to the Bodh Gaya Temple.How to reach: It is very easy to reach Gaya from the major cities of India. The Gaya Junction railway station is the main station for Gaya. The nearest airport is Gaya Airport, situated between Gaya and Bodh Gaya. Buses from Patna, Varanasi, Bhagalpur and Nalanda go to Gaya several times in a day.
While Bodh Gaya is infamously known for the birth of Buddhism, what remains relatively unknown is that the place to Hindus is almost nearly what Mecca is to Muslims. The story goes that, Gaya (from whom, the place derives its name), was a demon whose body was pious after immense penance and blessings from Lord Vishnu. Gaya- the asura was so pious, that he could absolve others of their sins by merely touching them or looking at them.No wonder, that Hindus all over the world today, come to perform “shraddha” or last rites of their progeny in order to absolve them of their sins. While the place itself is serene and offers picturesque landscapes, it is this faith that people around you walk with, wants to make you believe – “Bodh Gaya is the doorway to heaven.”
290 Kms from Purnea
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the l...
The journey to Paro to Phuentsholing takes nearly 4 hour if you’re driving, or 6 hours if you’re taking a public bus. The journey is rather impressive and enjoyable. From the sea level of Phuentsholing you only pretty much go uphill throughout the journey before you end up a much colder town of Paro located at 2100+ meter altitude above the sea level.The well maintained four way highway, built by Indian Border Road Organisation (BRO), moreover makes Phuentsholing to Paro & Thimpu a very sought after Himalayan Roads for motorbikers in India wanting to ride in Bhutan.Day 2: Paro To Thimpu
Paro to tiger’s nest (40 kilometers ride and 4-5 kilometers trek)The last time I had visited Takstang Monastery, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, I was mesmerized by it and I wanted Swatabdi to witness the same. We first rode to the Drugyel Dzong which is a monastery which was burnt in a fire and now lay in ruins. We then proceeded to the base of the trek to the Tiger’s nest. The difficulty level of the trek to Tiger’s nest is slightly higher because of the altitude and the steep trail. Huffing and puffing we kept walking one step at a time. Swatabdi felt like quitting the trek a couple of times but I etched her on. The sight of the monastery which kept getting bigger and bigger was also inspiring. After almost 4 hours we saw the awe-inspiring view of the monastery. I fail to fathom the effort taken to build this monastery so high in the mountain. The monastery seems as though it is almost hanging on a cliff and can fall down to the deep valley below any moment! The trek was worth the effort. The trek downhill was slightly easier and we reached the base late in the evening. The rest of the evening we spent riding around in Paro and watching the beautiful Paro Dzong and the national museum which were lit up with vibrant lights in the night. We had hired the motorcycle for 16 days which meant that this was the last day of our trip. We celebrated the last 15 days over my favorite beer, the Druk 11000; and a plate of delicious momos.
Jaigaon to Paro (180 kilometers)The embassy at Phuntsholing opens at 10 AM and we reached there at 9:45 hoping to be among the first people to get the permits. We were proven terribly wrong when we saw that there about a thousand people already waiting. The situation was similar to a Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata. There was utter chaos. No one knew what to do or whom to approach for the permits. What made it worse was that there were agents who were standing in the queue with dozens of applications in their hands. For hours we stood in various queues which didn’t move an inch. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and shouting happening which pissed off Swatabdi. She went inside the embassy and somehow caught hold of an influential female officer and explained to her our situation rather sternly. In no time a new counter was opened for female applicants who were not in large groups and we managed to get our permits from that counter. By this time it was late evening and we rushed to the RTO office to get the permit for our motorcycle. There was a queue of drivers waiting for us and the office hours were coming to a close. Swatabdi again used the feminine card and we got preferential treatment and our permit was among the last to get approved that evening. Thousands had applied to visit Bhutan that day; only a lucky few were allowed to enter. While coming back from the RTO office I cut my toenail with the sharp side stand of the motorcycle and started our ride to Paro with a shoe on one leg and a bandaged toe in a flipflop on the other. We started for Paro with dying sunlight and braced ourselves for a cold ride. There was a brief spell of rain which made it worse. An hour into the ride my foot went numb. I somehow shoved my bandaged foot inside my shoe and continued riding. Thankfully the roads in Bhutan are good which made it easier to ride in the night. The cold though was still unforgiving. We reached Paro at 8:30 in the night and found most hotels to be either closed or fully occupied. Shivering and shaking we moved from one hotel to the other in search of a room. At a certain hotel Paro, the owner of the hotel took pity on our shivering souls and offered us a place to stay in the roof attic where the employees sleep. We took it! With temperatures dipping below zero and the roof attic becoming really cold, we tugged ourselves in the quilt, hugged each other tight and slept. It was a truly long day!
The morning drive from Thimphu to Paro was exciting. Paro is a very small town compared to Thimphu. Thimphu has ATMs but I found few in Paro. Once reached, I set out for Chelela Pass. Clouds were floating by and freezing wind was blowing. In the midst, prayer flags were fluttering as if they were protectors of this remote and mythical land.
4. Paro - The drive from Haa to Paro was a memorable one through the Chelala Pass (the highest motorable road in Bhutan). Chelela Pass was full of snow and we had a lot of fun engaging in snowball fights and making a ridiculous looking snowman. It was sunny up there and the air free of any pollution made the sun literally burn our skin. We had to take off our jackets and then too we were sweating with snow all around us.
Paro Tshechue/Paro Festival which happens in the month of April at the Rinpung Dzong is a series of dance performances by the monks and laymen wearing ornate costumes and masks. It is said that one gains merit by attending these festivals. (WooHoo! Brownie points for being a part of this) We woke up at 3am (we surprise ourselves by doing things like these :p ) to witness the Thongdrel festival – which is an unfurling of a massive embroidered painting of Guru Rinpoche. It is considered so sacred that simply seeing a Thongdrel unfurl is said to cleanse one’s sins!
Tiger’s Nest or Paro Taktsang monastery in Paro is by far the most iconic symbol of Bhutan. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. Hence the name – ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The trek takes about 6 hours which includes the tour of the monastery. The trail is uphill but not very steep, pretty doable we must say. It is tiring yes, gives you a serious fitness check (if you don’t believe in any form of exercise, like us!) but believe us, once you reach the top and inhale the pure and serene air, you will forget the aching bones and the gasping you experienced. The scenery over the valley is just mind blowing – completely lined with prayer flags and prayer wheels.
Day 4: On our way to Paro. 2nd important city and in fact only city with airport in Bhutan.. 1.5 hr ride from Thimpu .. 50 kms.Bhutan major attraction - Tiger nest.. Have always been enticed by its wallpaper like pics.. Time to turn imaginations into reality..Taktsang, or the Tiger's Nest Monastery, is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. one of the most challenging monasteries to get to. Located at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, Taktsang is the birthplace of Bhutanese Buddhism.
302 Kms from Purnea
Best time to visit - N/A
As the name suggests, the history and significance of this place revolves around the Bodhi tree which is actually a peep...
Attain Nirvana at Bodhgaya.The hallowed town of Buddhism in India, this quaint place in the South of Bihar attracts many tourists every year who come here to study, pray and meditate. The amazing fact about the Mahabodhi temple is that included as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. There are 35 such locations around India.
Sit under the Mahabodhi (tree of enlightenment) and feel the breeze tell you its story