Main monasteries in the Lapchi region

Lapchi Snow Mountain is situated in the eastern part of Nepal on the border with Tibet, at a height of about 4850 meters. It is not only considered to be the speech mandala of Yidam Chakrasamvara, it is also sacred place that had been blessed by the presence of siddhas and masters through the centuries. Before Milarepa (1040-1123), the Mahasiddha Saraha and Padmasambhava meditated in the caves of Lapchi. Milarepa left his mark in many places, such as footprints and sacred springs. Lapchi is closely bound up with the history of the Drikung Kagyu.

Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön had sent countless Vajrayana practitioners there and in the centuries that followed many outstanding masters from the Drikung lineage went to Lapchi to advance their practice. It is said that, through Jigten Sumgön, the Dharma radiated in this holy place like the rays of the sun shining on the snow-covered mountains.

Many practitioners went on extended meditation retreats in one of the numerous sacred caves. The 6th Chungtsang, Tenzin Chökyi Lodrö (1868–1906), wrote a guidebook for pilgrims about the holy places at Lapchi.

The main monastery and temple there is Chöra Gephel Ling. It had been built by Shabkar Tsogdrug Rangdrol (1781-1851) on the small plain of Chöjung Mathang around 1830. Before he came to Lapchi the cavo of Rechen Phug was used as the assembly hall for the yogis in the area. Until recently the retreat houses and the temple were in very bad condition on the verge of collapsing. His Holiness the 37th Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche , who often goes on retreat to Lapchi, installed Nubpa Rinpoche as Dorzin and delegated him the responsibility of restoring the place. Due to the compassionate aspiration and assiduous efforts of Nubpa Rinpoche important parts of the old structures at Gephel Ling were restored and new retreat rooms rebuild and new ones erected at the three important retreat centers “Sehrpa Dorje”, “Nyanyod” (left ear mandala of Chakrasamvara), and “Heart of Chogsham” (body form of Vajravarahi).

The famous old Jangchub stupa is standing at a place sacred to Vajrayogini. One day Shabkar Tsogdrug Rangdrol expressed the wish to build a stupa there. That day so many of his pupils were present, that each had to bring only one stone in order to erect the stupa in just one day. Until not so long ago the stupa was a dismal sight and was in imminent danger of caving in. Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche sent a specialist from Ladakh, who constructed a new stupa covering the ancient one. This way the original stones were preserved inside the new structure in their original state, just as they had survived the passage of time.

Nubpa Rinpoche has sent several of the monks now living at Gephel Ling Monastery to study at the Drikung Kagyu Institute in India and in recent years more and more practitioners, quite a few from the west, come for retreats to Lapchi.

Not only buildings must be saved from ruin in Lapchi, animals in the region must be protected, too. After their second calving dzomos, the female offspring between yak and cow, yield hardly any milk, and the farmers neglect them. Mostly they die in winter when feed is short, or when they fall into ravines, leaving their helpless calves behind. Chetsang Rinpoche has initiated a program to save these animals. The calves are being gathered in newly built stable where they now spend the winter. A Nepali was hired to care for them, and they will be distributed among the farmers once they have grown bigger and stronger.

[Thanks to Sherab Drime (Thomas Roth) for providing very useful information on Lapchi together with some beautiful pictures]