Known locally as ani gompa (Tibetan for ‘nunnery’), Hépíng Fǎhùi is home to around 500 nuns and more than 100 monks. Lama Tsemper was a revered hermit who spent much of his life meditating in a cave about two hours' walk across the grasslands from Tagong. Nuns would bring him food and look after him, so when he requested a temple be built here just before his death in the 1980s it was decided that a nunnery be built too.
Lama Tsemper’s remains are in a chörten (Tibetan stupa) inside the original cave; you may have to ask a nun to unlock the door to look inside. Below the cave is the temple and a huge mani wall as big as the temple itself, which has its own kora that attracts many pilgrims. On the far hill, and overlooking the site, is a huge new building containing the nuns residences and kitchens; a little further uphill from that is a large walled complex containing a new monastery and monks residences called the Mùyă Dàsì (木雅大寺). On the opposite hill is a sky burial site. Here you will find the area where the bodies are cut up and left and a tree in which braids of hair, necklaces, glasses and other personal objects of the deceased are hung. You should not visit the sky burial site if a burial is taking place, but when nothing is happening nobody seems to mind you having a respectful look around. In between all the temples are tiny, fragile wooden houses of more nuns. All are painted a blood-red colour. The whole complex is growing fast as more and more nuns and monks arrive. You could easily spend a full day exploring this extraordinary complex, chatting to the people who live here and walking the kora with the pilgrims.
Getting to the nunnery is half the fun and a super little 4km walk from town over the hills and with views over the distant snow peaks. Ask for directions from any of the popular traveller hotels and hostels.