KEY FACTS ABOUT YEMALUNG
School of Buddhism: Nyingmapa
Location: 20 km from Samye
Altitude at the top: 4,200 meters
Yemalung (Yamalung) Hermitage along with Chimpu is an interesting site about 20km from Samye associated with Padma Sambhava. You need to cross the small river stream before starting to ascend to the top of the mountain hill. The hike up to the top takes about 1 hour. Nowadays there are stairs with poles and many areas under the shade of bushes where you can rest on the way up.
Many of the places on the mountain are related with Guru Rinpoche. The main pilgrimage site here is the cave where Padma Sambhava meditated. There are several small temples scattered on the mountain slope and a few people staying there for meditation retreats.
On the way to the top you there is popular among Tibetans water spring – Guru Rinpoche’s Long Life Water (Guru Tsechu).
Another relic is a stone carving of Padma Sambhava, 8th century Tibetan King Trisong Detsen, and the first abbot of Samye monastery Shantarakshita.
According to legends, Guru Rinpoche concealed treasures in the cave of the hermitage. In the 17th century Terdak Lingpa, an incarnation of Vairocana discovered some of the sacred texts here.
On the way up you will see 2 rocks forming a tonnel. It is called Bardo Trang. It symbolizes the after-death state (Bardo). Tibetans crawl through this narrow tunnel to prepare for it. If the tunnel is too narrow for them its a sign that they need to collect more merit during this lifetime.
Drupuk Lhakhang is the main temple of the complex built around the Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinpoche) meditation cave. Inside the cave are his hand print and footprint that he left when pushed the walls to enlarge the cave.
Another prominent cave there is the cave where Padma Sambhava’s disciple Vairocana meditated. It is located above the main temple.
VISITING YEMALUNG HERMITAGE
The first option is to visit Yemalung from Samye. It can make a great half day adventure if you want to spend a day outdoors. However, the most popular way to visit the nunnery is on a trekking route from Ganden monastery to Samye. This historic trek is one of the most scenic in Tibet. On the final day of trekking you will reach the bottom of the hill at the Hermitage site. You can visit Yemalung, and after that, if you feel tired it is possible to continue to Samye by car.
Near the parking lot at the foot of the mountain there is a small tea house and shop. You can take a break there and rest.
GANDEN TO SAMYE TREK
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.
PLACES TO VISIT NEARBY
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.
Chimpu caves are located 15 km to the East from Samye. You can reach them by a short hike or drive there. It is one of the most sacred sites in Tibet. In addition, it is located in a very picturesque place with a great view of Yarlung valley.
You will find Padma Sambhava’s meditation cave there, among many other caves. Buddhist practitioners still use the caves on the mountain for meditation and prolonged retreats.
RECOMMENDED TOURS IN TIBET
To visit Yemalung you can select tours that go to Samye monastery area. You can add a half day tour to Yemalung or combine it with visiting other places nearby.
TIBETAN CULTURAL HERITAGE TOUR
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.
THE CRADLE OF TIBETAN CIVILIZATION
This 7 days tour will take you to the birthplace of Tibetan culture. We will start our tour in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. In Lhasa we visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera and Drepung Monasteries. From Lhasa we will travel to Ganden monastery to enjoy the awe-inspiring view from the top of the hill walking around the monastery. We will also visit the local Tibetan village.
Finally, we will drive to the Yarlung valley where Tibetan civilization emerged. We will visit Trandruk Monastery, Yambulakhang, and Samye.