The nerve-centre of the Homestead, the Dhunna is its veritable heart and soul. A sit-down dining space, the Dhunna is a few steps down the main building adjoining the kitchen. With a huge fire-place in the centre that holds out a delicious promise of cold winter nights made warm with fuel and food, the Dhunna has a sacredness that grows on the guests.
The Dhunna is one of the most unique buildings in the valley with long planks of wood supporting a ceiling made of large and heavy chakkas, or slabs of slate. Traditionally, a Dhunna was a hermitage with holy fire-place where the fire was kept burning all the time as a living manifestation of Divinity. Around the fire, hermits and mendicants of various traditions converged as did pilgrims and wanderers to find not only light and warmth but the experience of something beyond.
In fact, when Lama Rigzen performed a puja some time in year 2000 on the grounds where the Dhunna now stands, the world of the unseen proffered a glimpse in the form of mild rain showers even as the surrounding areas were bone dry!!!
As a physical space the Dhunna wears many hats – the library: a place to re-establish a forgotten friendship with books; the dining hall: a place to nurture the hungry belly, and in the winter months, the communal fireplace: a place to seek refuge from the bitter cold.
But as one of our guests said, “Its role transcends the definitions of the tangible world. Conversations with the wind, with the water, with the trees, with the sunlight and with the self, carry themselves over to the Dhunna.
So much floods in but there always seems room for more. Steal away for a tete-a-tete, talk to a book, talk to the walls, or better still – just listen.