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Gomphu Kora: Exploring the Sacred Site and Colorful Festival of Bhutan

Photograph by Asian Historical Architecture

Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Bhutan lies a revered monastery that has captured the hearts of pilgrims and tourists alike. Gomphu Kora, also known as Gom Kora, is a sacred site that dates back to the eighth century and was constructed in the 17th century under the direction of Minjur Tempa. With its stunning architecture, rich history, and fascinating legends, Gomphu Kora has become one of Bhutan's most treasured destinations. From the meditation cave to the footprints of Guru Padmasambhava, Gomphu Kora offers a glimpse into the country's spiritual and cultural heritage. In this article, we'll take a closer look at Gomphu Kora and all that it has to offer for travelers seeking a unique and meaningful experience in Bhutan.

Gomphu Kora is a two-story monastery with a golden roof that catches the attention of many pilgrims and tourists traveling to Bhutan. The name "Gomphu Kora" comes from a rock-face cave near the temple, which was constructed as a monument to this important location. The Gom Kora circumambulation is well-known, and tourists can witness the beauty of the monastery while being engulfed by the tranquil ambiance and the distant sound of prayers being chanted.

Photograph by Asian Historical Architecture

Unveiling the Rich History and Legends Behind Gomphu Kora

According to legend, an evil spirit named Myongkhapa escaped from Samye in Tibet when Guru Padmasambhava was spreading the Dharma in the Himalayas. Myongkhapa followed the course of the present-day Kulong Chuu stream and concealed himself inside a rock where Gomphu Kora stands today. The Guru followed the evil spirit, mediated for three days inside the rock cave, and finally vanquished it. The body impression of Guru Padmasambhava can still be seen on the rock where he is said to have meditated and subdued the evil spirit.

Photograph by Asian Historical Architecture

Another legend claims that Guru Padmasambhava buried a vase with the water of immortality inside the rock. If pilgrims are fortunate, they may be able to capture some water leaking through the rock during an auspicious occasion.

Tourists can see some sacred artifacts like a statue of the Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava’s amulet, the footprints of the Guru and his consort, and the footprints of the Guru’s riding horse in Gomphu Kora. There are many other paintings and sculptures within the sacred walls of Gomphu Kora that date back to the 17th century. The meditation cave, with its narrow, twisting passage through which pilgrims crawl and wiggle to test their negative past actions, is a famous place to circumambulate.

Visiting Gomphu Kora

The best time to visit Gomphu Kora is during March, when tourists can witness the Gomkora festival, when Bhutanese gather in the monastery to celebrate the mystical past and pray for a bright future. The festival is a unique way to celebrate and circumambulate around the goemba and the large rock throughout the night.

Photograph by Asian Historical Architecture

Trashigang is the most admirable location to dine and stay in the area, which is only 25 kilometers driving distance away from Gom Kora, as it has no lodging. To reach here from Trashigang, take a 9-kilometer car journey to Chazam, where you can turn off towards Trashi Yangtse. After 13 kilometers, you will notice Gom Kora’s yellow roof down by the road. Although there is a parking lot, it is severely insufficient during festival season when the tourist rush is plentiful.

In conclusion, Gomphu Kora is a must-visit sacred site for tourists and pilgrims alike. With its ancient history, legends, and sacred artifacts, it offers a unique experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

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