I was quite excited when I found out about the Tibetan costume exhibit at the Tsechen Kunchab Ling temple. Tsechen Kunchab Ling, and the Tibetan and Himalayan Cultural Center, is located in Walden, New York in Orange County, about 10 miles East of Newburgh, and 70 miles from New York City. The temple was built in 2001.
As I drove up to the temple, I found myself in awe. The facade was captivating even as it was, surrounded by old snow and mud leftover from winter. There was an expectant air, and the few people I saw were in the midst of groundskeeping.
As I was still taking everything in, a smiling face came to greet me. My tour guide introduced herself and explained that they were in the midst of preparing for the arrival of an important figure in their order. Nonetheless, Kalsang was eager to show me around and answer all of my questions.
The wind was blustering, throughout the property strings of flags were displayed. I honestly can’t remember ever seeing so many flags and the effect was wonderous. Kalsang dutifully explained that the colorful squares were prayer flags from people who had ventured to the temple. Upon closer inspection, I was able to see that each flag had writing upon it and were in specific colors.
Though I was there for the Tibetan costume exhibition, upon passing the imposing double doors, Kalsang offered to show me the shrine room. I won’t go into much detail because it an experience the inquisitive traveler should have for themselves. What I will say is that between the elaborate tapestries and my friendly guide, I was in for a treat.
The Tibetan costume exhibit was quite fascinating. Not only was I able to see traditional costumes, but I was able to learn about the evolution of garb and how it is today. The brocades were beautifully complex and vibrant. More importantly, I was marveled to learn just how much is done by hand. I quite enjoyed learning about the differences in dress between married and unmarried women, looking at the head adornments for each.
The tour was informal but thoughtful and the grounds seemed as if they would truly blossom in spring. Ultimately, my experience was both enjoyable and memorable. Not only do I see myself returning to see upcoming exhibitions, I highly recommend the trip for anyone looking to learn about Tibetan culture. The Tibetan Costume Exhibition is ongoing until April 30, 2015.
If you go:
Tsechen Kunchab Ling
Tibetan and Himalayan Cultural Center
Open 10am - 6pm
12 Edmunds Lane, Walden, NY 12586