ABOUT CHIMPU HERMITAGE
The Chimpu Hermitage is one of the most sacred sites in Tibet, and it attracts many pilgrims. The mountain slope has meditation caves that yogis used for centuries for their meditation retreats. There were 108 meditation cells in the past, including caves associated with Padma Sambhava, Indian teacher Atisha and Tibetan king Trisong Detsen.
In 2019, there are almost 300 hermits, monks and nuns meditating in the caves scattered on the mountain slope.
The Chimpu Hermitage is located near Samye monastery. You can choose a half or a full-day tour if you wish to hike to the top of the mountain. In a half-day tour, we will drive from Samye to the Chimpu nunnery. In a full-day tour, we will visit the nunnery first. After that, we will hike to the chapels close to the top of the mountain and see meditation caves and chapels on the higher levels.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CHIMPU
The hermitage is closely connected with Indian master Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinpoche). We can see several Padma Sambhava footprints on the hill.
There are caves where Guru Rinpoche meditated. The first cave is to the side from the nunnery’s main building. You can spend some time meditating in the cave.
Drakman Keutsang, one of the most important caves, is on the upper level of the mountain.
Drakman Keutsang cave is where Padma Sambhava gave teachings to his eight disciples.
When Guru Rinpoche meditated in the cave, thousands of different deities came to the cave and went into the rock at the ceiling. The rock naturally colored in a golden color. To that day you can see their faces and silhouettes on the golden stone.
In front of the Padma Sambhava cave, we can see imprints from the knees where king Trisong Detsen’s daughter was praying to Padma Sambhava. Next to it lies a stone that was brought from a sky burial in India. Pilgrims are rubbing it against their back and shoulders.
The monastery was built around this cave. The upper terrace of the monastery is overlooking the valley. From the terrace, you can see most of the Chimpu hermitage, the nunnery, zigzagging road and Brahmaputra River with Hepo Ri hill in the distance.
Another Padma Sambhava cave near the white stupa is easy to find with the giant golden footprint right outside of the cave. Inside the rock you can see the cave and small meditation space where nun is staying to meditate and look after the cave.
VISITING CHIMPU HERMITAGE
Chimpu is located about 16km to the North East from Samye monastery. We can drive to the Chimpu Utse Nunnery following winding mountain road or hike there.
The parking lot is located near the main complex of the nunnery. However, if you want to visit the entire complex, the only way is to hike all the way to the top.
The nunnery main building Wentsa Naru. In the 8th century, it housed some of the first Buddhist texts brought to Tibet.
HIKE UP THE MOUNTAIN
If you chose to hike, you will see small caves and cells along the way where monks and nuns stay in meditation. The meditation retreats can last for several years. When practitioners are in long meditation retreats, they stay inside the caves and only accept small portions of food. Some monks are staying in caves that we can visit.
The hike takes about 2-3 hours, and then walk down is about 35-45 minutes long. There is a new road with stone stairs and hiking became much easier than in previous years. On the way to the top, we can visit some of the meditation caves.
While we are hiking towards the top of the mountain, you will be enjoying incredible views on the hermitage, Yarlung valley and Hepo Ri in the distance.
PLACES TO VISIT NEAR CHIMPU
Samye monastery is the highlight of the region and the most convenient place to start your journey to Chimpu. It is the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet and the complex is truly wonderful.
Yumbulakhang is the first building in Tibet that stays to this date and the first fort. First Buddhist scriptures fell on the roof of Yumbulakhang. Aside from the historical importance, it is simply a magnificent place to visit with an amazing view from the top.
Hepo Ri is an important historical and religios mountain. Here, Padma Sambhava subdued demons in the 8th century. This moment helped establishing Buddhism in Tibet. Go on a short hike up the Hepo Ri and enjoy fascinating view on Samye monastery complex and surrounding valley.
Yemalung is another nunnery located on the top of the mountain 25 km to the North from Samye. It is less popular than Chimpu, but not any less interesting. Padma Sambhava was meditating in the caves of Yemalung and later created a mandala to pray for the long life of King Trisong Detsen.
TOURS VISITING SAMYE AND VICINITY
On this tour you will experience Tibetan culture, visit incredible landmarks and see the natural beauty of Tibet. At the same time, we will travel to the most peaceful and special places where the greatest Buddhist Lamas have been meditating for years.
We will spend time in the meditation caves, away from the busy world, make stops by the most impressive natural sightseeing spots, and, of course, visit the most important monastic centers, including Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
This private tour takes you from Lhasa to Yarlung Valley and Samye Monastery. Yarlung valley is the birthplace of Tibetan civilization. You can see Yumbulakhang, an ancient fort and the first surviving building in Tibet. After that you will visit Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
This trek goes along an incredibly beautiful route in Tibet. We start in Lhasa, where we visit the most important historical places and acclimatize before the trek.
During our trek, we will walk through high mountain passes (up to 5,250 meters), rocky mountains, vast green valleys, cross mountain rivers, and finally reach dense forest area.
We complete our trek at the Samye monastery, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
For those who feel adventurous, there are some one-day trekking options available near Samye. They can be added to your tour.