Panorama of Chimpu


Chimpu nunnery in Tibet

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.


Ritual objects in meditation cave in Chimpu

The hermitage is closely connected with Indian master Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinpoche). We can see several Padma Sambhava footprints on the hill. 

Padma Sambhava statue in Drakman Keutsang, Chimpu

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. 

Giant Guru Rinpoche Footprint in Chimpu
Giant Guru Rinpoche Footprint in Chimpu

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.

View from upper levels of Chimpu Hermitage
View from upper levels of Chimpu Hermitage


Nuns in Chimpu

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.


View on Hepo Ri from Chimpu

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.







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