Chencho Dema 

A winding tarmac road leads deep within a breathtaking, scenic forest to the revered Goen Tshephu Ney, a sacred cave with a profound connection to Guru Rinpoche, an influential spiritual figure from the eighth century.

Locals believe Goen Tshephu Ney, the second Maratika, the cave of longevity, has the same spiritual essence as the revered Maratika in Kathmandu, Nepal, making a pilgrimage to Nepal unnecessary.

The ney (sacred site), located in Goenshari Gewog in Punakha, has gained popularity among both locals and visitors from all over the country. A monastery adjacent to the cave houses Guru Rinpoche’s prominent sungjouen (self-spoken) statue.

Tshoki Dorji, a 60-year-old who lives in the lhakhang, told us about Guru Rinpoche’s visit to this sacred cave after his retreat in Maratika. Guru Rinpoche saw the full form of Amitayus, Buddha of Long Life, within these sacred walls.

Dungkar phomo (Male and female conch)


Three foot prints said to be left by Guru


Self-arisen letter on the rock


The sacred cave


Terton Dorji Lingpa is believed to have pulled out phurb from this spot

21 images of Tara are believed to be concealed here

Various neys can be found all around the monastery, each with its own special significance. After passing through a narrow rock crevice, an awe-inspiring cavern emerges—a massive expanse of rock with a spacious interior and a constant drip of water from above. The main treasure of Goen Tshephu is hidden deep within this mystical realm, in a small cave accessible only by an iron ladder leading to the Dakini meditation cave.

Pilgrims making their way to the monastery come across three footprints thought to be left by Guru Rinpoche himself. According to legend, Guru stepped on these sacred imprints before flying towards Tshechudra in Gasa. Within the cave, one can embark on a self-discovery journey, unravelling the mysteries of one’s own karma. Furthermore, 21 self-awakened Tara images are said to be hidden within this sacred space.

A prominent mark carved into the rock bears witness to the location where Guru Rinpoche is said to have sat. “On top of the massive rock above the monastery, there is a cooking oven, believed to have been used by dakini to prepare food for Guru Rinpoche,” Tshoki Dorji said. “When climbing the narrow wooden ladder, use caution.”

Terton Dorji Lingpa retrieved the sacred Ter of phurb from a minuscule aperture on the face of the stone directly beneath the monastery. In addition, a self-arisen letter adorns the rock in front of the monastery, its raised letters enchant the careful observer. A pair of male and female conch shells adorn a tiny boulder outside the butter lamp offering room, adding to the spiritual atmosphere.

Tshoki Dorji has noticed an increase in the number of visitors to this sacred site. “In the past, when there was no road, only one or two people would visit the ney,” he said. “However, with the road now reaching near the monastery’s base, the number of visitors has increased. The ney was relatively unknown until a few years ago.”

The road leading to Goen Tshephu was built about six years ago and was recently completed. Tshoki Dorji said that visitors to the nearby Koma Tshachhu (hot spring) frequently include a stop at the Lhakhang in their itinerary. “It appears to have become a customary practice for people to visit the lhakhang and then proceed to Koma Chhu, or vice versa.” 

Previously, the Yurbu and Gumgang chiwogs of Goenshari Gewog shared responsibility for the monastery’s upkeep. It has since been turned over to Zhungdratshang. 

Twenty one images of Tara, Guru Rinpoche’s Zhuthey, Soethap, Terton Dorji Lingpa (Phub Terzhi gi Shue), Dungkar Phomo Wangchuk Chhenmo, Choe gi Zhabjay, and Guru Rinpoche’s Chakar are among the seven scared neys located within the lhakhang. 

Goen Tshephu Ney is a testament to Bhutan’s deep reverence for spiritual traditions, and it invites both locals and visitors to embark on a transformative journey through its mystical realms.