Located at a distance of 24km from Trashigang along the western side of Kulong Chuu is one of the most revered monasteries of Bhutan, Gomphu Kora or Gom Kora. Gomphu Kora was built in 17th century under the commandment of Minjur Tempa but the story about the spiritual site goes back to 8th Century. Gomphu Kora is sited amidst the rolling green meadow on the road to Yangtze. Gomphu means “Meditation Cave” and Kora means “Circumambulation”. The name is derived from a cave formed out of a rock-face next to a temple that has been built as a tribute to this sacred site. Gomphu Kora is widely known for its circumambulation.
The two storeys Gomphu Kora with its golden roof has caught the attention of many pilgrims and tourists traveling to Bhutan for being a sacred site. There are many legends which spun around this ancient monastery which never ceases to amaze the travelers. As per one of the legend an evil spirit named Myongkhapa escaped from Samye in Tibet when Guru Padmasambava 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 of impression of Guru Padmasambava can still be seen on the rock where he is said have meditated and subdued the evil spirit. And according to another legend Guru Padmasambava has hidden a vase filed with the water of immortality inside the rock, if the pilgrims are lucky they can collect some water seeping through rock during some auspicious event. Several prominent revered saints have undertaken pilgrimage to Gomphu Kora in the past millennium and the earliest was Gongkhar Gyal, grandson of Lhasay Tsangma. He built a small shrine at Gomphu Kora around the 10th century A.D. In the 14th century, Terton Pema Lingpa, visited Gomphu Kora and enlarged the existing shrine. It was renovated and enlarged in the 15th century by Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk, the grandfather of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. He also inscribed murals on the walls of the temple. Tourists can see the some sacred artifacts like a statue of the Buddha, Guru Padmasambava’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 which goes like “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.
The sacred beauty and serene ambiance of Gomphu 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.