Nyelung Dechenling

Buddhist Temple in Phobjikha Valley

Travellers with a sense of the magical will want to visit this unassuming chapel, one of eight residences (ling) built by the 14th-century Nyingma Dzogchen master Longchen Rabjam (Longchenpa). Don't be put off by the plain interior, the resident monk can show some remarkable relics and tell tall tales of saints and miracles worthy of Chaucer.

Ask politely and the caretaker will bless you with an old thangka (painted or embroidered religious picture) whose back bears the handprints of Longchenpa printed in his own nose blood; a small statue made by Longchenpa in his own image; a fossilised elephant's tooth; and an iron skillet made by Pema Lingpa, with his thumb prints in it. Your guide will be thrilled. The next-door protector chapel is dedicated to Dzogchen protector Dza (Rahula), whose nine-headed body is covered in eyes and has a snake's lower half. The bowl of sacred water here comes from a nearby spring and is said to have the power to cure epilepsy and paralysis .

The caretaker can take you on a 10-minute walk to the huge centuries-old cypress tree said to have sprouted from Longchenpa's walking stick. On the way back you can stop at two sacred springs at the base of the hill, where pilgrims fill up bottles of drub chhu (holy water). The lhakhang is accessed from a side road just above the Amankora Gangtey resort.


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