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Gom Kora Bhutam | Gomphu Kora Monastery

Gom Koras in Bhutan

One of Bhutan’s most revered monasteries, Gomphu Kora or Gom Kora, can be found 24 kilometers from Trashigang on the western side of Kulong Chuu. Gomphu Kora was constructed in the 17th century at Minjur Tempa’s direction, but the history of the sacred location dates back to the eighth century. On the highway leading to the Yangtze, Gomphu Kora is located amidst a sprawling green meadow. Both Gomphu and Kora are Tibetan terms for circumambulation. The name comes from a rock-face cave near a temple constructed as a monument to this important location. The Gom Kora circumambulation is well-known. The two-story Gomphu Kora with its golden roof has caught the attention of many pilgrims and tourists traveling to Bhutan for being a sacred site.

Gom Kora Story and Significance

There are many legends that spun around this ancient monastery which never ceases to amaze travelers. As per one of the legends an evil spirit named Myongkhapa escaped from Samye in Tibet when Guru Padmasambhava was spreading the Dharma in the Himalayas. Samye is the first Buddhist monastery built in Tibet. 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, 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.

Another tale 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. The first notable renowned saint to make the journey to Gomphu Kora in the last millennium was Gongkhar Gyal, the grandson of Lhasay Tsangma. At Gomphu Kora, he erected a little shrine sometime in the 10th century. Terton Pema Lingpa visited Gomphu Kora in the fourteenth century and increased the size of the previous temple. The grandson of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Yongzin Nagi Wangchuk, expanded and restored it in the fifteenth century. Additionally, he painted murals on the temple’s walls.

Sightseeing Attractions of Gom Kora

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, discovered by the Terton Pema Lingpa, in Gomphu Kora. There are many other paintings and sculptures within the sacred walls of Gomphu Kora which are dated back to 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. The monastery is so famous for circumambulation that there is a folk song that goes “Go around Gomphu Kora today for tomorrow may be too late”.

Circumambulate around the two-storey monastery while being engulfed by the tranquil ambiance with a distant sound of prayer being chanted. Pilgrims from around the world travel towards Gomphu Kora during the Gomkora when they circumambulate around the Goemba and the large rock throughout the night, a very unique way to celebrate the festival. Learn more about the sacred festival while feasting your eyes with the scenic view of the lofty mountain and mural adorning the walls and ceiling while visiting Gomphu Kora.

Accommodation and How to Reach

Trashigang, the most admirable location to dine and stay in the area, is only 25 kilometers driving distance away from Gom Kora, which 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 the Gom Kora’s yellow roof down by the road. Although there is a parking lot, it is severely insufficient during festival season when the tourists rush is plentiful.

Best time to visit Gomphu Kora

The sacred beauty and serene ambiance of Gomphu Kora or Gom Kora can be relished throughout the year but March is considered the best time to visit Gomphu Kora. During March tourists can witness the Gomkora festival when Bhutanese gather in monastery to celebrate the mystical past and to pray for the bright future.

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