錫金蓮師洞 Guru Rinpoche Caves in Sikkim


This writing had been a victim of my procrastination during the past 2 years. The disease hasn’t been cured completely so let me post some pictures and do a preliminary write-up for the time being.

札西頂: 一切的中心 / Tashiding – The Center of All

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According to Rigdzin Godem, Sikkim is a holy place and Tashiding is the center of this sacred mandala while the four Guru Rinpoche caves are situated in the four cardinal directions.

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Since Tashiding is such a holy place, plus all those sacred stupas, it is a must to come paying respect and offering prayers whenever on our way to and from the caves.

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Making offerings and prayers here was such a happy thing to do. I can easily spend a whole day here.

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Tashiding is said to be the place with 1 billion cities of dakinis. There are a lot of sacred imprints on rocks, such as foot prints of dakinis or the door to the hidden lands.

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南蓮師洞 Southern Cave: Lho Khandro Sang Phuk


This is the cave with easiest access and hence most people only come to this one. It only requires a 10 minutes walk down to the valley from where you can park the cars.

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The cave is slightly underground but not very deep. You just need to crawl through a very narrow passage to enter the inner chamber. The last passage is said to be the image of a particular deity. I won’t name which one so that you can look at the rock and use your own imagination.


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There is hot spring from the river. You can sit by that big rock and soak your feet. In high season, the cottage will be open to allow a bath I think. Somehow  I never came here in that high season.

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東洞 Eastern Cave: Shar Chog Bey Phuk

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There is motor road to this Eastern Cave now so the access is very convenient as well. From the road, it is also a 10-20 minutes walk down.

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This cave is however very deep underground, the kind of place where it seems you can walk miles down there and get lost. A flashlight is a must if you decide to go down.

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This cute dog had been leading us along the road to the cave and was faithfully sitting in front of the gate when we climbed out.


北洞 Northern Cave: Byang Lhari Rinchen Nying Phuk



Northern Cave and Western Cave are not accessible by car and requires a one day trekking from the nearest village. The journey to this Northern Cave is especially harsh. But several months after I went, I realized it is where Lhatsun Namkha Jigme revealed the terma Rigdzin Sokdrup, “The Practice of the Life of the Vidyadharas”, from which the “Riwo Sangcho" comes from, hence I have been very grateful to the friend who picked this cave over the Western Cave for me.

第一天:札西頂 –拉章 / Day 1: Tashiding to Labdang



So in order to go to Northern Cave, we took the public transportation from Tashiding to Labdang. The road was bad so even if you hire your own car, you will need to hire a jeep and someone who really knows the road.

When we went to have lunch before the jeep departed, we actually left our  2 backpacks and 2 duffel bags on the street unattended (just like what the picture above shows). I was a bit worried, but when we finished lunch, coming out of the restaurant, these bags were still there intact. That’s another reason why I love Sikkim. It’s just not like other parts of India where you need to watch out all the time.


There was another passenger on the jeep. He is from Labdang and agreed to be our guide for the trip. So the jeep dropped us directly somewhere near his place, then we walked for 10 minutes into the mountain to his house.

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The guide is Nepalese descend and his place is like a small shangrila to me. There are a few cottages together. Next door is his grandfather’s and others are his cousins’.  They grows a lot of things in the compound and have chickens, goats around.

We wandered into one of his cousin’s place as we heard the chanting of a lama doing a one-man puja there. They are all very nice people. They gave us tea and let us just sit there by the fire and enjoy the moment.

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Before it gets dark, the rooster and hens would walk over a wooden stripe  to get back to their elevated shelter. First time seeing chickens can be trained to do something.

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The guide let us stayed in the best room in his place. The Nepalese wooden cottage is very clean, and warm at night. The family cuisine was also good.

第二天:拉章-山上 (9 公里) / Day 2: Labdang into the Mountains (9 Km)

121007 To Cave 04(LR)01北洞就在那山裡面的某一處,遠方的山頭還有雪。


Northern Cave is further inside the mountain from where I stayed.  Somewhere in the opposite range in the picture.

The 2012 rainy season lasted longer than usual. The local community  has not cleared the road to the cave yet. We were the first group trying to go that year. I was very surprised that our guide was willing to bring us in after I saw how much work he and his nephew had to do. They literally had to cut a road out of the jungle for us.

121007 Village to the Lodge 001(LR)01兩千多米的海拔,我們要走九公里的山路,翻過兩個山坳才能到蓮師洞。按一般人的腳程,單程要走五到七個小時,當天是無法來回的,所以晚上要在當地人為朝聖者所搭建的一個小屋裡過夜。

The altitude was 2000+m. 9 km to the cave, for the locals, it is a 4-5 hours walk, for city dwellers, probably 5-7 hours, so there is no way to do a day trip. You have to spend a night at a shelter house the community built near the cave.


This kind of trail only happened in the very beginning. Once we got to the other side of the mountain, there was no trail at all. The guide just took turn to cut a one-man wide passage out of the thick rainforest.


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In some places, we had to climb though land slides. Those are the times I’d thank Robert for teaching me rock climbing basics in Fontainebleau.

For the parts where the safety fence that locals built were completely out of shape, you can only chant mani and pray those grasses on the cliffs can provide you some support .

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But the view is good. At least in the beginning when you still have energy to appreciate and explore.

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錫金的蘭花很有名。Probably orchids.

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看了蘑菇就覺得肚子餓。Cute mushrooms.





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The real challenge was leeches. I didn’t realize there was such a thing until after 1/3 of the trail, I saw those blood coming out of one guide’s leg after he took out some leeches, even at that time I still thought it was due to those nasty sharp vines. Then those guys finally enlightened me by pointing at my own bloody pants. After I rolled up the pants, I saw leeches on my leg for the first time in my life – not one or two, but more than a dozen.

They were tiny. Most are not even 1 cm long. Yet they are vicious. Like motion detectors, they would know before you  come and stand up on the leaves, twisting and waiting for you. Once you pass by, they jump over to you, then they follow your pants or shoes to seek the soft skins to satiate their blood thirst.


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Fortunately when we got closer to the destination, probably due to the high altitude or something, the leeches all suddenly disappeared. Even those biting into you became inactive.

The shelter house is still several hundred meters from this sign and the Cave is probably 1 km away.

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This stream before reaching the house was like heaven. We ran out of water so refilled ourselves with this cool and sweet nectar. Also, took the leisure to stop and wash off the dead leeches on my feet. Though it was freezing and my feet turned purple, but it feels great.





The house is just a roof with walls for people to tug in for the night. No power but there is running spring water outside.

Since it was getting dark, so we decided to stay put and wait until the next morning for the cave.

Our guides made a fire and cooked some instant noodles they brought up as dinner. Then we all tugged in at 6pm. You do need a warm sleeping bag. My light one, said to be good for 10 C, was definitely not warm enough.  The guides simply wrapped themselves in a blanket so I should’ve asked them to bring a blanket for me instead.

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第三天:北洞-拉章 (11 公里) / Day 3: Up to the Northern Cave – Back to Labdang (11 Km)



So today, 1 km to and from the Cave, plus the 9km to get back to Labdang, a total 11 km to go.
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Although it feels walking in a special zone throughout the journey, the feeling got even stronger when getting closer to the cave.

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It’s a half open cave. Our guides helped us put up some prayer flags.

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I was amazed by all those statues and big butter lamps brought here by previous visitors.

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Sang offering and various prayers. It feels like something flowing in the air, like an unheard song, invisible, vibrating, making your mind clear and joyful.


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Though we started early, we spent a lot of time at the cave and it was almost 10 when we got back to pick up our luggage and had some breakfast. Next time I will spend more than a night there.



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回去的路上,連小背包都讓嚮導幫忙背回去。即使如此,還是到晚上七點多,天都全黑了才回到拉章。我的腳程就是來回都要9個小時 [汗]



Though I passed my little backpack to the guide, it still took me 9 hours to get back to Labdang. For them, since they don’t need to cut trees and make roads anymore, it probably took them only 3-4 hours to get back.

And they are super sweet. When I was tired and hungry on the road, one of them came back to us at around 4 pm to bring us some hot tea and warm roti!

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第四天:拉章-札西頂 / Day 4: Labdang to Tashiding

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Love this place I stayed in Labdang.

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On the previous night I took out those leeches in front of the guide’s house, my blood on the ground was still visible this morning. In total, I had 32 bites on my torso and 100-200 bites on my legs/feet. A great cleansing with all the blood I offered to this pilgrimage!

121009 Labdang 15(LR)01 這是拉章村的公車站。旁邊有個社區辦公室,一定要去那邊交錢支持他們的開路和維護聖地的工作,每人只收20盧比,5毛美金都不到。


This is the jeep stop in Labdang. The community has an office nearby. They only charge 20 Rupee per person for their hard work on making roads and maintaining the shelter. Please do support them.

For my guide, even though we did not talk about price upfront, this morning he charged a very reasonable 4000 Rupees for the two of us, including brining us up there, home stay, meals and everything. So  I offered  a tip for their hard work. Make sure you can find this guide if possible. Too bad I forgot his name already 😦

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Beautiful lights on the way  back  to Tashiding.

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Tso Pema 蓮師聖湖:措貝瑪

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This was a one day trip to this holy lake associated with Padmasambhava. Thanks to a friend so that I got to effortlessly cover all the major sites in a rather leisure way.

蓮師洞 Guru Rinpoche Cave

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Debora recommended me to stay somewhere around here if I come for more than a day. Indeed a very serene place. It would be wonderful to do a retreat here.

There is a small lake nearby (not Tso Pema), also looked quite “holy”.

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There are two hospitable and kind dogs. While I was still hesitating which way to go, a white dog came as if he was guiding me to go down into the main cave.

While we were doing our practices inside, it also lovingly accompanied us there for almost the whole session until more people came inside.

120814 Tso Pema 011旁邊還有一個小洞,是曼達拉娃佛母和蓮師一起修的地方?記不太得了。

Linked to the main cave is another smaller cave.  Too bad that I can’t remember the history behind.

Then out of the cave, we did a Kora around the cave. The two dogs came to lead us again!

To the other side of the hill, there is another cave where it housed a footprint of Guru Rinpoche.


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There are many retreat huts/caves around.  We saw some monk/nun carrying barley flours up to the mountain, probably back to their retreat place.

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A baby mouse, only the size of half of my thumb. So young that it did not seem to know how to eat solid food yet.

措貝瑪 Tso Pema
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120814 Tso Pema 032120814 Tso Pema 038120814 Tso Pema 039就是原本曼達拉娃公主的父王要燒死蓮花生大士的那個湖,不過反而因為蓮師在此顯現種種神跡而收服了這個小王國信仰佛法。


The lake where Padmasambhava performed miracles and tamed the king/people of Princess Mandarava’s kingdom.

There are so many fishes in the lake. Seeing them seeking endlessly for food is such a sadening thing.  They are among the most fortunate fishes in the world – plenty of food available in a safe environment. Yet they can not do something meaningful such as helping each other or doing some practice. All they know is looking for more food…  very rarely can I think of the downfalls of taking  rebirth in the animal realm and this is one of the few rare moments.

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Quite amazingly ran into Semzang here. She told us about the Driburi pilgrimage back in Spiti and we did not see each other for all these days (she does not have a mobile). Just during this short time by the lake to feed the fishes, she happened to come to feed the ducks on her last day in Tso Pema. Speaking of karmic connections, this must be one of them.

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There are a giant Guru Rinpoche statue and many monasteries by the lake, including a big Sikh temple (Sikhs also consider Padmasambhava to be a saint of theirs).

自生度母像 Self-arising Tara Image


This is by a bodhi tree near Ontrul Rinpoche’s monastery.

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曼達拉娃洞 Mandarava Cave

曼達拉娃修行的岩洞。這裡的尼師會講很多很多的故事,岩壁上有手印、寶冠印……她説這是曼達拉娃和蓮師初見的地方,慕斯唐的Lo-gekar則是第一次蓮師、曼達拉娃、耶喜措嘉會面的地方。聽到Lo Gekar就很高興,聽到耶喜措嘉去過慕斯唐就更高興了。話說回來,作為第一位伏藏師取藏的地方,耶喜措嘉曾經去過那裡,也就一點也不奇怪了。
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120814 Tso Pema 049這幾個指印很清楚,像是有人把岩石當麵團捏了一把的樣子。

If you can speak Tibetan, the nun looking after this place can tell you all sort of things, from the history of the cave to the various prints on the rock – hand prints, imprints of ritual crowns…

This hand print is the most visible one. You can place your hand over it, as if you could take a grip of the rock as a dough.

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I was car sick all the way to Tso Pema, and again car sick all the way back to Bir.  This amazing scene showed up during the few seconds I happened to sit up on the way back. A beautiful end to a day full of blessings.

Sikkim Pilgrimage 2011 錫金朝聖

Since most people needed to catch their flights, we only did a two-day trip out of Gangtok after the teachings. Hope I will get a chance to stay longer next time.

Temi Tea Garden 茶園
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After leaving Gangtok, we had breakfast and tea at Temi, the only tea garden in Sikkim and considered one of the best in India and in the world.

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I asked lama to buy me this snack after seeing an Indian chewing it in a tiny grocery shop. I suspected the Indian took something similar to betelnut wrapped in a leave, but the lama got me something sweet.  Ani-la forbid me eating it out of concern for my health so I only sample- tasted some of the ingredients. Like the rose flavor jelly sweets 🙂



Giant Guru Rinpoche Statue at Namchi 36公尺高的巨大蓮師像
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Ravanla Monastery and Buddha Park / 惹旺拉寺與佛陀公園
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Ravanla is building a Buddha Park 小鎮正在建設一個佛陀公園,以後可供人遊憩。
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Tashiding 扎西頂
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It is said that the whole Sikkim is a holy place and Tashiding is the most sacred place among Sikkim. Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro was cremated at Tashiding and the golden one is his stupa. Even thinking of soon to see this stupa made my way up so joyful.


There is also one ‘Thong-Wa-rang-Dol’, ‘Liberation by mere seeing’ stupa here.
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This old man, Garpa, came from my beloved Kyegu since his twenties and spent the past fifty years carving mani stones in this holy place. His works include various mantras and Buddha images. He kindly showed us around to see various sacred sites/imprints of Guru Rinpoche and dakinis. He is over seventy years old now but can still walk really fast.

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Guru Rinpoche Long Life Cave at Tashiding 蓮師長壽岩穴
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It was completely dark and rainy when we walked down the hill toward this cave. I was nagging silently that if not for waiting for Ratna Vajra Rinpoche for lunch, we could have arrived while there were still sunlight (some other people were nagging out loud…). When it was my turn to squeeze inside the cave (the passage is so narrow that only one person is allowed to try each time), I heard my jean ripped while passing through the sharp edge of rocks. The ripping was right on my butt that if I can tear off the bottom parts, they would become perfect hot pants for the beach. Now I was really happy that it was so dark that nobody can see this small disaster.




Pemayangtse Monastery 貝瑪楊澤寺
This is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. 錫金最老的寺院。
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A Holy Lake 聖湖  — Khecheopalri Lake?
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This was the first capital of Sikkim, where the first Chogyal of the Kingdom of Sikkim was consecrated in the 1641 AD by three learned lamas.
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One Sikkim School 路過的錫金小學
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Another Holy Lake 又一神湖
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Guru Rinpoche Cave 蓮師洞
There are four Padmasambhava caves in Sikkim. This one, Khado Sangphug, is the only one accessible by car. Secret Cave of Dakinis, simply love the name! There is also hot spring right outside by the river.
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Gangtok 甘托克

View of Gangtok city from cable car
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Sikkim Legislative Assembly where H.H. Sakya Trizin gave a public teaching on “Basic Understanding of Buddhism” in October
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Tsuklakhang Royal Chapel and Monastery, where Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Khandro Tsering Chodron used to live
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Namgyal Institute of Tibetology housing a rich depository of Tibetan literature, rare manuscripts, paintings, thangkas, statues and religious objects and other works of art and history
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Chorten Monastery where Dodrupchen Rinpoche resides with many many cats
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This cat is not from Chorten Gonpa but belongs to a friend. It treats me like a member of the family, or more precisely, a cushion of the house.
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Also learned how to make Tibetan barley wine, chiang 🙂
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Sikkim definitely offers the best Tibetan food, especially their family cuisine, simply delicious! The famous fireball chilies look deceivingly cute and I did not dare to try until reaching Manduwala.
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藏曆年初四去度母宮和敏珠林 The 4th Day of the New Year Was A Busy Day

110303 Sakya Center Vajrakilaya Puja 098今天薩迦法王開始例行的上午10-12點接見大眾。我前往拜年兼辭行。


Today is the first day when HH Sakya Trizin resumed his daily audience after the losar break. I went to get some blessings for the new year. Many people shared the same idea so there were a long queue extending to the courtyard.


Though it was towards the very end of his 10-12am audience time when I got to see him, HH was tirelessly in very good mood, smiling all the time, and talked to me almost all in Chinese! It was such a cheerful moment: I said a few words in English and he responded a few words in Chinese 🙂 I did not even know that he can speak some Chinese.

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Then I had to go to the train station to purchase train ticket to Delhi. The Indian Raillway website has been down for several days. The queue was so long that it took me more than two hours and I felt so sorry to the monks who brought me there.


喇嘛原本只是要帶我去看敏珠林大佛塔的,沒想到我先是在度母宮磨蹭了一陣子,然後又卡在火車站。等我們到Clement Town時已經快三點,喇嘛們都餓壞了。
When we finally got to Clement Town, it was 3pm already. We had a late lunch, then took a quick look of the monasteries in this rather big Tibetan settlement.

敏珠林的大白塔果然名不虛傳,真的是很大。四周環境優美,像個公園。藏民都在慶祝新年,於是草坪上坐著的不是來野餐的印度家庭,就是一對對的印度情侶。110308 Clement Town 013

估計來這裏的情侶很多,而且行為可能不太符合寺廟規矩。所以到處都有牌子寫著“請勿公開示愛”。 還有一個有趣的牌子是“此處禁食花生”。

The great stupa here is indeed quite impressive. Mindrolling is very spacious and well managed. You really feel it is a “center”for study something great and the scale of everything here is indeed great, from the stupa to the outdoor buddha statue.

Clement Town must have very good gardeners so that every monastery here are decorated with numerous flowers all over the places.
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Under the blazing sun, there is a monk carrying out his practice in front of the huge Buddha statue.
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The day trip was ended with a tree of 30+ beautiful green long-tailed orange-beak parrots. I saw the same birds staying at the top section of Mahabodhi stupa at Bodhgaya. Seeing the same birds again in such a great quantity and short distance made me very happy again.  
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菩提迦耶(4)靈鷲山和那爛陀大學 / Vulture’s Peak and Nalanda

On the last day in Gaya, we went visiting Vulture’s Peak, Nalanda University and some other sights.

靈鷲山 / Vulture’s Peak (Rajgir)

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This is where Shakyamuni disclosed the Mahayana teachings so it is a must-see for Mahayana Buddhists.

We were super lucky that there was no one when we climbed up. So we did proper prostrations and recited Heart Sutra together, and then made individual wishes. It is yet another very special place you can feel it directly while being there.
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There are two caves on the way up the peak. One is said to be where one of buddha’s chief disciples did long meditation, the other one is said to be where buddha stayed and dried his robe. The first cave was packed when we came down.
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We met a monkey (?) on the way down. The way he sat was just like a human being. I was quite anxious and worried that it may attack us for food or something else.  When Jamyang Karma Lama waved it over, the other three of us ran away immediately…the monkey was actually of very good manner. He waited patiently for Lama to open his bag, find a donut and hand the donut to it. Anyway, not my fav animal in the world.
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You can hire people carry you up to the peak though the walk is only ~15 minutes. The eatery by the parking lot is quite good. We had tea and samosa there.
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30 Rupee cable car ride can bring you to another peak with a magnificent view overlooking the Vulture Peak. It just reminds me of the typical scene described in Sutra, where gods, arhats and boddhisattvas gathered together to receive Buddha’s teachings. You can really feel the scene when being here.
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那爛陀大學 / Nalanda University

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The first impression was that it is huge. After walking for a while, you feel even stronger about its immense scale. There are 13 monastic schools, plus some more temples. Some old Indian kingdoms may be dwarf in front of Nalanda.

This is the stupa of Shariputra who was born and attained enlightenment in this area. Without him, we would not have “Heart Sutra”, so prostration to Shariputra!
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Most stupas are ruined but you can imagine the glorious days when Nagarjuna, Shantarakshita, and Dharmapala (Virupa) studied and acted as abbots here.
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Avalokiteśvara holding a lotus flower.Nālandā, Bihar, India, 9th century CE.遺跡對面有個不大的博物館,裏面收藏挖掘出的一些佛像,值得一看。有超級秀美的觀世音菩薩像、卡薩巴尼觀音像,還有小小尊的財寶天王,第一次看到非藏傳的財神造像,不過跟藏傳唐卡裡的一模一樣。
The museum across the road is worth visiting. It is not big by any sense, but houses very nice Avalokiteshvara and Kasarpani Avalokiteshvara statues. The small wealth deity statue is also nice. It is my first time seeing Jambhala out of Tibetan arts, yet they are identical. 

其它 / Other

玄奘紀念館 / Xuan Zang Memorial Hall

Xuan Zang came to Nalanda via Afghanistan. He studied so well that he won debating against numerous heresy challengers. Then at the age of 42 he returned to China, bringing back a large amount of sutras and starting translation for an untiring 20 years. Thus he became one of the most important sutra translators  into Chinese. This place depicted his life stories.  
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王舍城竹林精舍 / Bamboo Groove (Veluvana)

Once one of buddha’s favorite place, but now only a park. This pond is supposed to be where Buddha took showers.
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溫泉 / Hot Spring

Somewhere between Vulture Peak and Nalanda. An interesting stop by. Just ignore those self-claimed Hindu priests who want to offer you water for washing hands. They are out for money. Bihar is one of the poorest state in India. The still use mule chariot as main transportation tool here.
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菩提迦耶(3)充滿加持的充實日子 / A Typical Day in Bodhgaya With Shower of Blessings

5am to Mahabodhi Temple because the Chinese monastery I stay only opens gate at 5am. Then I would start my favorite session of prostrations as it is still dark and cool.
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At 7am I would return the monastery for a quick breakfast, then come back for the 2nd session of prostration until it gets too warm and sunny. The rest of the morning is always spent in circumambulation and sitting by THE bodhi tree.
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Everyday  I would also sit in front of the Buddha statue for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Though I see a constant flow of visitors, it was said that actually I come in a less busy period. Otherwise usually it is not allowed to sit inside the temple.
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I also love watching those Sri Lanka pilgrims doing circumambulation. They would reach out hands to touch sacred objects and then touch their own hearts, over and over, as if the devotion swells from their bodies so much that it is the only way to ease the unbearable devotion. Versus myself, I can only do some mechanic gestures to hopefully invoke a tiny drop of devotion. It was really joyful to watch their dance-like movement.
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In front of the temple there are 3 small chambers on the left. One with Tara, one with Hinduism linga, and one with buddhas and a Vajrasattva. There is a Tara on the right side of the main temple, which is said to be very powerful hence always adorned with a lot of flower garlands.
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Then I would go back taking a shower, having lunch at 12pm.

After lunch, there are plenty of temples around for visit. It is similar to Lumbini where you see architecture of various traditions. I spend most of the time in Mahabodhi so did not visit many other temples, except for: (1) Sakya Monastery – small but quiet, clean rooms for 100 Rupee a day with shared toilet/shower; (2) Bhutan Monastery – exquisite mandala, offering rooms for 300 or 500 Rupees a day; (3)64 ft tall Buddha Statue; (4) Japanese Temple; (5) Another Japanese Temple (which I did not even walk inside); (6) Moon image on the door of a temple. The rabbit reminds me of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
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Rickshaws can be hired to go around. From Chinese Temple to Sakya Monastery  costs 15 Rupee.
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薩迦寺的策嘎多傑堪布是薩迦佛學院第一批的九名學生之一,他的學識淵博,連印度教也很懂。跟我們說了無比多大覺寺內內該看的還有周邊的聖地。八大尸陀林就有三個在附近呢,可惜我們受限於時間就只去了這個狂笑屍林,就在大覺寺入口旁的小路裡,現在遍佈是印度教的linga崇拜物,還不到屍陀林的地方有個石刻的時輪金剛壇城。另外兩個是寒林墳場和 Threatening 墳場。
Tsega Dorje Khenpo told us there are 3 cemeteries around here: Cool Groove, Threatening and Ha Ha Laughing. Due to the time constraint, we only went to Ha Ha Laughing which is close to the Mahabodhi entrance. The cemetery is now covered by Hindu linga though. On the way to the cemetery, there is a stone-carved Kalachakra mandala worth of seeing.
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The cows here are painted colorfully. One day there was even a camel outside the temple, munching leaves of nearby bodhi trees.
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At 3-4pm I would do another session of prostration until dusk time, go back for dinner at 6pm and then come back to Mahabodhi for a walk until 8pm.

Even the fallen flowers are serene and pretty in Mahabodhi. One day Jamyang Karma Lama gathered a handful placing on his prostration board as cute offerings.  
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One day Jamyang Karma Lama brought us to a tiny Tibetan restaurant which reminds me of izakayas in Japan. Momo is their specialty. Judging from the packed crowds there, it must be pretty good. The vegie noodles I had was also delicious. Another interesting thing about this place is that it was full of Tibetan monks except for me being the only lay person there.
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The night is spent in practicing patience with mosquitoes. I started by using coils. After two days of suffering, a nun gave me a net, but still the mosquitoes would come inside the net as it was not big enough. Then on the last two days we found mosquito repellent cream in a shop, yet it only lasts for 2-3 hours per application. So every night I would get 10+ bites and eventually got out of bed at 2-3am! Except for the McKinsey days, I have never slept so little in my life 😉

Fortunately as long as I think of being able to return to Mahabodhi Temple in a few hours, I would feel very happy. As the sun always rises, the days in Bodhgaya is always meaningful, fruitful and joyful. The blessings indeed come down like a shower.
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菩提迦耶(2)大禮拜和供養 / Prostrations and Offerings in Bodhgaya



Every morning, people start coming into the Mahabodhi Temple at 4am while it is still dark. Amazing numbers of people from Sri Lanka and many from Thailand, Mianmar, Vietnam, or even Taiwan. They are so devoted that many of the groups would carry some big offering items together, and some would even hold a lotus while walking towards the temple. 

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This is a pretty impressive Western Shravaka monk. He always sits in the same spot everyday from 4am till approaching noon time, without moving at all. Though you can never judge a practitioner by appearance, this one is so impressive that you feel joyful by simply looking at him. 

大禮拜 / Prostration




Many Tibetan Buddhists come for doing prostration. There are a few monks from Ngor Monastery. Though I did not know them prior to the trip, they were very kind to let me use an idle board and even lent me their mattress when I needed.
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My spot is towards the right end by the small tree in the right photo. I became so gracious after only 20 minutes of prostration. The lamas were really kind to let me do prostration there. Without the tree shade, I probably would not last for more than 30 minutes.


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This is my board. Every morning there will be some people offering breakfast to the practitioners. They would just leave these vegetarian food quietly without disturbing us. You really feel being taken care of here as a part of the Buddha’s family.

101109 Bodhgaya 025Sometimes I will bring some flowers and incense nearby, just to create an enjoyable environment for prostration/visualization. It was such a luxury to be able to see the Mahabodhi Temple and the bodhi tree in each prostration.

The blessings in Bodhgaya is very obvious. I could usually do only 100 prostrations each time with much of the time resting on the ground, here, easily 200+. So I successfully completed my aspiration of doing 2100 prostrations for the 3 days here, not to mention that I only did it in the early morning and late afternoon when the sun was not too strong.

Also, right after the first morning of doing prostration, someone in lunch time told me that Dudjom Tenzin Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche was only less than 30 meters away from where I was. Though I did not know him or even ever see his pictures before, I do feel that Buddha must have sent him to fulfill my wish to get oral transmission of Riwo Sangcho. Though a bit hesitated to disturb him,  I eventually made the request during his break and got my transmission.

In summary, the blessings from doing prostration in Bodhgaya is just amazingly obvious and swift to come!

供養 / Offering


So offerings of flowers, food have naturally been flowing constantly towards the main statue. The 195 lama also taught me something new, which is to offer robe to the Buddha statue. As we did not bring a robe, the office provides 3-piece robe for offering at a mere 500 Rupee. He even got one piece back after the offering, supposed to be a real blessed object. 

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People make offerings everywhere, not only inside the temple, but also outside as well. It can be as small as this mini cup of water. Yet you can feel the sincere devotion and pure intent of whoever brought that small cup, filled it with water, and offered it here.
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Or like the lama behind me doing prostration, he would lay out a circle of small cups of water with a flower in each cup everyday. This is a popular combination. People would lay out the offerings in various shapes.
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This old man was someone I admired a lot. The first time I saw him was at noon time. Under the unbearable heat, he was washing the copper cups, drying them one by one carefully, then offering the water diligently. Later during the day, he would clean out all the cups. Then I saw he did the same offering everyday…

For people not bringing anything for offering, there are many people selling flowers, incense etc. outside the temple.  
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Nov. 10 would be the Annual Robe Offering Ceremony, organized by the Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee. This year it was sponsored by Thai Buddhists, therefore a group of Thai people started decorating the site on the 2nd day while we were there. They brought a huge amount of textile, flowers and worked very hard for several days to make the site even more majestic.
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修法 / Practice

This is for sure the best place for doing practice among the 4 holy sites. Numerous pilgrimage groups come everyday doing prayers and group meditation. You can hear groups of Shravaka practitioners chanting sutra in Pali and Mahayana practitioners chanting sutras in their own languages, mostly around the bodhi tree, while the Tibetan and other individual practitioners doing their own practice in every corner of the site.  
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101109 Bodhgaya 014晚上開到九點,所以即使天黑了還是有人絡繹不絕的在禮佛、繞塔、做功課。每次離開時都覺得很不捨。人一輩子有幾分鐘是能待在這所有佛陀證道之處呢?!
The site is open till 9pm. Despite it is dark after 6pm, still many people stay in the temple in the evening. It is such a wonderful place where you feel naturally calm and joyful. You rejoice in seeing people making offerings; you rejoice in listening to people chanting sutra and prayers; you rejoice  in watching people doing countless prostrations; you rejoice simply at the fact that you can be in Mahabodhi in that very moment.

Arriving Bodhgaya / 菩提伽耶 (1) 抵達

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The train stopped at early morning at a nice spot opposite a village.

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Family waiting for train early in the morning in a station before Bodhgaya. In order not to miss our stop, we started waiting at 8am. The scheduled arrival time was 9:13 , but we didn’t make it until almost 11am.

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First thing in Bodhgaya is to find a place to stay for the next few days. We chose the Chinese Temple because it is close to the main site Mahabodhi Temple and I was told that their guest room facing Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s stupa. My room’s view is so nice that I can even see the Mahabodhi Temple in distance.

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This is the Vajra Seat, where Shakyamuni attained enlightenment 2500 years ago. This is one of the 4 holy sites for Buddhists (the other three being Lumbini, Saranath, Kusinagara). The bodhi tree is the 4th generation from the original one!

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Mahabodhi Temple was said to be built by Ashoka  It was buried in the dirt, which help avoid being destroyed by the Muslim. The main shrine room housing the central statue is especially peaceful. Once you enter, devotion seems to be flowing naturally from the heart. As long as the space allows and you do not block the pathway, it is allowed to sit inside the shrine room for a while. It is so great to see this place for people to pay homage instead of being a museum type of environment. They are always devotees from Shrakavayana, Mahayana or Tibetan Vajrayana prostrating or chanting prayers in front of the statue.

贡嘎雪山的摩托車之旅 / Motorcycle tour at Kunga Mountain

I tagged along Kunga Monastery’s khenpo to visit this famous Kagyu monastery. There are actually three Kunga Monasteries in the area: an old one, a new one housing the body of the previous Kunga Rinpoche, and a new-new one they are building now. Khenpo was going back to check the progress of the construction. 
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(子梅山垭口,后面是贡嘎雪山/Tsemi Pass 4650m with Kunga Range in the back)

From Kangding city to Kunga country, all the Tibetan houses are as grand as palaces.
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There is a sacred spring in the mid way, Khenpo-la led us to taste the spring water.
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In front of the lunch place out of no where, there parked a car with a photo of HH Sakya Trizin and the family which they took last year in Sydney 🙂 100909 Kung Ga Monastery 012 100909 Kung Ga Monastery 029

After lunch, with the typical welcoming folks along the way we proceeded fairly slowly. It was over 3pm when we finally arrived at the new-new Kunga Monastery. The organizing Beijingnese told me it is not possible to go to the old monastery in such late hours as it is 3+ hours away, plus it was raining. Fortunately Khenpo still remembered my tight schedule (i.e. leaving tomorrow!) and summoned me to see him before he started the series of meetings. Once he made sure that I do not have any problem with the altitude, he asked his attendant to find me a motorcycle to proceed!
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(第一台车载的是我的行囊,过度重负让我的司机吃足了苦头 / my loaded luggage brought us a lot of trouble along the muddy way)


At first, there was just me and a local guy (later I learned that he is the nephew of Khenpo) responsible to bring me to the old monastery. However, the nun from Dorje Drak also insisted that she should go with me so we became a four-people group. After we found another vehicle, loaded everything, refilled the gas and followed the motorcycle riders to their home so that they can put on warmer clothes, it was half pass four already when we actually departed. 
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At first it was very enjoyable. We coursed through the mountains at relative flat and wide paths and reached the Tsemi pass at 4650m. Down in the valley after the pass was Tsemi village, then the challenge came with the muddy steep trail leading to our destination.  
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The nun came with me was 73 years old so I was really worried about her. Thanks to prostration exercise, blessings from her Guru, or a good divination result as she claimed to have the day before for this trip, at least she was able to go on and off the motorbike by herself and walked  when needed. Yet the further we went, the more time we had to climbed the mountain on our feet as the trail was so steep and slippery that the motorcycle can not handle the climbing and  the two guys had to helped each other to push up the bike, which means the nun and myself were pretty much on our own feet.  Not to mention that it was raining and getting dark (while my flashlight was in the bag on the motorbike already out of sight). I can only look at the delicious mushrooms along the way and visualize how tasty they would be only if I had time to collect them and bring them to the monastery…
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It was so dark in the woods that at one point of time the old nun got lost until the two bikers sought her out. After the struggle felt like an hour long, we finally got back onto the motorcycles and proceeded in complete darkness with little visibility – the only thing my impaired vision offered was cliff on one side, narrow muddy and slippery trail and non-stop fog/rain. I was constantly pondering which risk is larger – riding the motorcycle or walking by myself in this kind of situation. I failed to reach any conclusion and we finally arrived at the monastery at half past 8.

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The guys yelled for a while until a monk came out to open the gate for us. There is no electricity, no mobile phone signal, no tap water. We were totally unexpected guests for the only monk looking after this place. Yet he was kind as all Tibetans, he made us tea, hot water (for making instant noodles – our guides were super considerate in bring these noodles when they refilled the gas, otherwise we would end up having only tsampa as supper).

While I was still eating, the monk and the 2 guides went preparing rooms/beds already. The monk was so unprepared that he could not even find the keys to the rooms so these three Tibetans worked very hard to demolished the locks of guestrooms by sheer force…what a day!

The next day under sun light I finally got a chance to look at the monastery. There are actually many buildings around for this monk to attend. Except for the main shrine/living area we stayed, there are also a separate Avalokitesvara shrine, a Padmasambhava shrine with prayer wheels, a few stupas, and a few independent houses appearing to be perfect retreat places.
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Yet the real retreat place of the old Kunga Monastery is still half day walking distance away in the ice mountains. 
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The monk gave me some Rhodiola roots he dug/dried which is the most popular anti-altitude sickness cure for Chinese.
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Right before I hopped on the motorcycle to leave the monastery, it started snowing! The monk said it was the first snow for this year. 9:31 am, what an auspicious and memorable moment for this trip. 

Not for long I decided to quit the effort of getting on and off the motorbike due to the various course conditions. The nun continued to ride on the bike, while I happily ran down the trail, only lagging behind them by a few minutes. There was even a “Akshobhya sacred place” on the way. I think I will walk up and down this part of the trail the next time I come. Hopefully I can spend a few days in the retreat place then.
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Back on the Tsemi Pass again, the 2 guides were also in good mood. They even went climbing the ugly empty mobile tower. 100909 Kung Ga Monastery 113

The nun and my guide collected some plants for making incense while I appreciated the highland flowers.
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Then the riders brought us to the New Kunga Monastery where we paid respect to the flesh body of the previous incarnation of Kunga Rinpoche who was pivotal in introducing Tibetan Buddhism to Chinese in the last century. As innumerable realized beings in Buddhism history and in other religions, his body naturally remains after he passing away and was successfully hid by several witty local Tibetans during the cultural revolution.
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As in many other monasteries, there is also a spring/well discovered by the first founder of the monastery believed to be a result of magical power.
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A Sakya monastery is right next door to the New Kunga Monastery and the Kagyu monk was very kind bringing us over and even showing us around since the only monk in that monastery was in the middle of doing a prayer.
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So I successfully finished my Kunga Monastery visit within two days and returned to Kangding. The fortress towers in this area is also quite unique.
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It was snowing in Zheduo Mountain nearby Kangding. Kangding Airport was heavily affected. The low visibility caused my flight to delay for 4 hours.
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《三根本合修》和幕思唐的莲師寺 / Tsa Sum Dril Drub and Gehkar Monastery


今天,竹究滇津仁波切說到欽哲旺波傳下的《三根本》成就法的傳承來源,才知道原來桑傑喇嘛首次取出這部伏藏時,是在幕思唐的Ghekar的寺廟,恰恰就是我去年在幕思唐時住了一晚的蓮師廟。真是太有福氣了,也不枉我那時雖然搖搖欲墜地騎著馬,還努力背著法本上山,拿山上最珍貴食物,哈哈,就是一包小小的TWIX巧克力,做了個超精簡的薈供。當初只是想說在蓮師建的廟裏念念,會是莫大的加持,沒想到那竟然是蓮師封藏讓後人第一次取藏的地點啊!今年過年發願文下面附著的還就是在那廟裏供燈的照片,想不到過兩個月就聽到這座小小廟宇跟自己的淵源,是仁波切在我去 Ghekar 之前就種下了。

I surprisingly learned that the 3 Root Sadhana from Khyentse Wangpo (“Tsasum Drildrub") was firstly discovered by Sangye Lama in Mustang, as the 1st terma based on Guru Rinpoche as main deity and discovered by the 1st terton in Nyinma history. Not only that, it was in a Ghekar Monastery where Sangye Lama discovered it. I assumed there can’t be too many places in Mustang named Ghekar so it must be Lo-Ghekar. Lo is the name of the kingdom anyway.  How can you ever think of a terma discovered in Mustang back in the 11th century? And now it is in English and Chinese languages. Amazing! Really feel like prostrating to Thartse Khen Rinpoche today for his getting me a chance to spend quite some time in that precious holy place.


- 宗薩欽哲仁波切是法主(這就已經很殊勝了)
- 首次取藏是由桑傑喇嘛在Ghekar廟附近的“馬頭明王之頸”峭壁取出,桑吉喇嘛是蓮師授記的伏藏師,也是寧瑪派的第一位伏藏師
- 是有史以來第一個以蓮師爲本尊的伏藏法


Ghekar要怎麽去,請參見下文的文末部份 / See the end of this text for directions to Lo-Ghekar:

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