A little trip to Tibet

Yesterday dawned wet and misty in Perthshire, and it put me in the mood for a trip to the remote area of Eskdalemuir, in Dumfries and Galloway.

Eskdalemuir is the name given to both an area and a small village, and is famous for its meteorological observatory and its Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

It was the monastery that interested me on this occasion, because I had been wanting to take my delightful assistants there for some time. They visited it in the 1960s when it was only just being established, but they hadn’t seen it as the working monastery and retreat centre it is today.

Since it’s a fair distance from Perthshire, we stopped en route at one of my favourite tearooms and took tea/coffee and freshly baked fruit scones:

I think the scones had just come out of the oven when we arrived, because I saw them sitting on a baking tray and they were still warm when they came to the table. They had also been sprinkled with flour, something I find very appealing:

Our snacks kept us going until we got down to the Tibetan monastery, which has its own tearoom, where we took our lunch:

The tearoom menu is vegetarian and,  surprisingly to me, doesn’t serve any of the monastery’s own produce. The food on offer consists of pasties, pastries, cakes and toasties, although they grow all sorts of vegetables and herbs in their garden on site.  Every time I visit I wonder why they don’t serve lovely fresh salads from their garden in the tearoom. We chose pasties, and the spinach and ricotta one was particularly good:

The tearoom is very brightly decorated with an exotic feel to it:

The delightful assistants appear to have been cock-a-hoop with the place:

After tea/juice and pasties, we went to visit the temple, where the Mahakala Prayers were underway. Visitors are free to enter and leave the temple during this time and it makes for an interesting experience, as the monks chant and play various instruments, including drums, cymbals and some sort of trumpet.

I didn’t take any photos inside the temple, but this is what it looks like from the outside:

We left our shoes outside on racks outside very elaborate doors:

All round the monastery grounds there were little shrines with candles, coins and odd items left as offerings:

This one had a few quite surprising items, including an onion and some wrapped sweets:

There’s a lot to look at in the monastery grounds, including an impressive stupa with flags, and a corridor of prayer wheels behind it:

It wasn’t perhaps the best of weathers for visiting, but the Peace Garden is always a tranquil and beautiful place:

Apart from the occasional squawk of a peacock:

Toodleoo Buddhas – until next time!


46 thoughts on “A little trip to Tibet

  1. Beautiful post. Those temple and garden surrounds are an amazing juxtaposition to the fruit scones and ricotta/spinach pastries. It’s the best of the east meets west! But in all seriousness I’d never considered they’d be beautiful Tibetan monasteries in Scotland!

    • Thank you Alice! There are a few Buddhist monasteries in Scotland, but this one has the largest Buddhist temple in western Europe and the community has been at Eskdalemuir for 45 years now. It is rather a surprising sight the first time you see it. To get there you have to travel along a narrow country road through typical Scottish scenery, and then all of a sudden several curious buildings and statues painted in gold appear out of the trees.

  2. Tibetan in Scotland, how incredible. I love the photos, thanks for bringing the Tibetan colours into my day. Last year I visited many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the north of India and this appears to equal them in design and size. Have wonderful times, lee (www.thebeachhousekitchen.wordpress.com)

    • Thank you Lee, it is quite a big place and they’re still building more of it. When the sun shines, as it no doubt did when you were in India, the gold paintwork is astonishing to behold. It was pity the day was so dull, but the colours were still bright and cheerful.

  3. A very interesting post all around. The bright in-your-face Tibetan colors and gold seem odd juxtaposed against the Scottish background. The two cultures combine very nicely in the tea house, though.
    Tibetans are very good at low reverberating chanting, hope that was good for you to listen to.

    • It is a strange mixture, but you’re right that we can relate to each other over tea! I did enjoy the chanting, thank you, I found it very soporific and might have fallen asleep if it hadn’t been for the trumpet and cymbals, although even they were surprisingly calming.

  4. Thank you for sharing all these lovely and delightful places, in two weeks, my husband and I are going to Scotland, and I think I might use some addresses…
    Kind regards from Amsterdam

    • Thank you Erna, I just had a look at your blog and it warmed my heart! 🙂 Are you travelling around the country, or staying in one area? If you need any tips or recommendations I’d be very glad to try and help. You can email me at lorna@sent.com if I can be of any assistance.

  5. Goodness! What’s a monastery doing in in that area? One never thinks of these things as being in Scotland of all places!

  6. I like the look of those scones with the flour sprinkled on top. As others have said, I would have had no idea that a monastery existed in that part of the world. the colors were very vibrant in the teashop.

  7. Nice images … Interesting Tibet in Scotland, we have one in France (but no tea room:-( When I was in Tibet unfortunately I did not get some good teas only those from India and Nepal. The Tsampa local Tibetan tea has quite an unusual taste 🙂

  8. Good Lord! What an amazing place. Do you know why the monks chose Eskdalemuir to settle in? It looks like a wonderful place to spend a day.

    The temple reminds me of whern I was in Sri Lanka and I went to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. It was total sensory overload, visually and aurally. Totally unforgettable.

    • The Temple of the Tooth? I’m intrigued, was there a dental connection?

      I really don’t know why they chose Eskdalemuir, I’ve often wondered about it and haven’t seen any explanation, but I guess it might have been because it’s quite remote and unlikely to become a popular area for building in. Mind you, since I started visiting it, the road that runs past it has been much improved due to logging lorries using it. It used to be dreadfully full of pot holes for miles, but now it’s nicely covered in new tarmac.

      • Kind of. The inner sanctum was a shrine to the Buddha and contains a casket with one of the Buddhas teeth.

        I must visit your little bit of the Orient when I’m in that area.

        • One of his teeth, I see. I think you’d enjoy the peace garden in Eskdalemuir, there are some overgrown bits that are doubtless home to many interesting critters, all of whom are of course welcome in the Buddhist tradition.

  9. This looks amazing! I once visited Mcleod Ganj in India and loved the Tibetan people and their way of life and culture. I was super lucky this weekend and managed to go to a talk by the Dalai Lama (I think he’s visiting Scotland next?) What a lovely monastery and of course, cafe 🙂

    • Thanks Kate, your visit to Mcleod Ganj must have been an incredible experience. How was the Dalai Lama’s talk? I saw that he was touring the UK just now, and visiting Edinburgh at some point, and I wondered about trying to see him speak. I assume it’s all done through an interpreter? I know he does speak some English, but I imagined that he might not do whole talks in it (I’m just guessing, I actually have no idea!).

  10. Lovely – brought back great memories… we nearly moved to Moniaive in Dumfriesshire… as I’m now a Buddhist I wish even more that we had!

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