Composite photograph of the Journey to the Wesak Valley

As a young boy I remember seeing an image in a National Geographic magazine, of two Lamas blowing on conch shells on top of a temple in the Himalayas.  Thirty years later we were standing on the rooftop of that very monastery – the Thiske Monastery in Ladakh.

In the mid-eighties we filmed in India, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Ladakh, Burma and Tibet for a series of programs called Festivals of the Far East. The Wesak Festival in Tibet is a festival where those participating have direct contact with the spiritual energies available at that time. On the inner planes the Wesak Festival has great significance.

We knew that the Wesak Valley existed in the Mount Kailas region somewhere in the Himalayas near the western border of Tibet and that each May a great event occurred in that valley.

After arriving in Lhasa we met our first Tibetan guide, who spoke English - he was there waiting for us to arrive. After ten days of driving through the most magnificent mountain ranges we arrived at a small village within viewing distance of Mt. Kailas. We met another Tibetan traveller on the roadside waiting for a lift - he guided us to the valley.

The next day when the festival began the Tibetan traveller appeared - he was the head Lama. The unseen hand guided us to Lhasa and across the Tibetan Mountain range and to the Wesak Valley - the pathway was already there - the door opened for us.

Travelling through Tibet is vastly different to anything else you will encounter. The absence of any human life amidst the ruggedness of the mountains added an eerie feeling to the journey. We drove through snow peaked mountains and incredible sand dunes - 15,000 feet above sea level. One day we passed by an old Lama on horseback, dressed in traditional gold and red clothing with two disciples and pack animals. They didn’t stop, they just passed close by - no acknowledgement whatsoever - it was as if we didn’t exist - and then they just disappeared into the dunes. Their appearance gave the impression that they were from some ancient fable.

On another occassion a beautiful wild horse appeared mysteriously out of the mountain range on the outskirts of
Shigaste - it was pure white, very elegant and majestic. Then after a short gallop and burst
of energy it disappeared back into the mountains. Seeing the Manasarovar Valley and
beautiful Mt. Kailas for the first time was a powerful experience. Walking along the
shoreline of the turquoise waters of Lake Manasarovar was breathtaking.

Passing two young Tibetan girls on a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailas and the absolute
joy they radiated, leaving offerings near the small shrines and prayer flags on
those high mountain passes with exquisite views of the snow peaked Himalayan
and Tibetan mountain ranges - are impressions that will never fade.

We travelled half way around the world and drove for two weeks across
the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world to arrive at
Mt. Kailas and the Wesak Valley the day before the Wesak Festival.

There wasn’t at any time a thought that we wouldn’t find our way
to the Valley - it just unfolded that way.

Every experience changes your life in some way.

Some deeply significant experiences are not
necessarily obvious at the time, however, in
reflection you realise there is a purpose in
everything – being in the Wesak Valley during
the May full moon festival was a profound
experience for everyone and something we
will never forget.

It opened a doorway to another world.