Chimpu Nunnery and Hermitage Caves - Tibet Tsetang Highlights
Tsetang, in the center of the Yarlung valley between the Himalayan and Gangdise belts, is one of the largest cities in Tibet. Tsetang is 183 km southeast of Lhasa in Nedong County of Lhoka Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region of China (TAR). Tsetang has been the capital of Yarlung since ancient times and it was the seat of the ancient emperors of Tibet thus it played a big role in the history. In the 19th century it is said to have some 1,000 houses, a bazaar, a gompa and a fort. This tells why Tsetang is regarded as the cradle of Tibetan civilization.
Tourists travelling in this region can take visit to Samye Monastery which is on the bank of Yarlung River, Yumbulagang known as Yungbulakang Palace, Tramdruk Monastery, and Chimpu hermitages. One of the highlights for visiting Tsetang is that tourists can have some unique hiking experience. With a beautiful hiking through the green bushes in the natural amphitheatre valley, from the newly constructed Chimpu nunnery, tourists can start a short hiking through the solitary caves and tiny trail amidst the thorn bushes, then they can interact with devoted Yogis or Meditative Retreats in their caves, up from the terrace it offers a spectacular view of the Brahmaputra valley below.
Chimpu nunnery is located in the territory of Dranang County in Shannan region of Tibet, not far from the Samye Monastery. It is about 4,300 meters above sea level. Because the environment is quiet and elegant, many famous people and buddhists of the Tubo period have practiced here, including Trisong Detsen and Padmasambhava.
Chimpu nunnery is the most famous hermitage of Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan, "chim" refers to the local Chim family, and "pu" means the upper part of the ravine. Chimpu nunnery is surrounded by mountains on three sides, and southern side opens wide to the Yarlung Zangbo River. The view is very imposing. Because its special natural location, Chimpu nunnery enjoys mild weather all year round. This is the mainly reason why so many people throughout history have decided to come here and practice.
Chimpu nunnery and hermitage caves enjoy a similar level of reputation with Samye monastery because of its vast collection of buddhist scriptures. According to legend, there were 108 practice caves, 108 celestial burial platforms and 108 holy springs in the mountain. Today, the scale of the site is similar to a small village and many locals are diligent practising buddhists. The holy legacy of Chimpu will go on.
A visit to Chimpu nunnery and hermitage caves will take 4-5 hours and involves intensive trekking. There is no accommodation at the nunnery. The nearest accommodation can be found at the foot of the mountain and the facilities are very basic. Travelers can also find restaurants and shops.