Neychen Rinchen Bumpa in Kurtoed, Lhuentse, stands as a revered religious site, drawing increased attention from pilgrims across Bhutan. Despite the challenging ascent and the chilly climate, 30 to 40 devoted individuals make the pilgrimage daily. The journey requires a minimum of four hours, with some enduring six hours of uphill trekking from the base at Kuenzangling temple.
The surge in visitors, predominantly Bhutanese nationals, over the last three years is attributed by locals to improved road conditions in Kurtoed, the establishment of a guest house, the availability of drinking water, and well-maintained washrooms at the site. Contrastingly, in the past, meditators at Rinchen Bumpa relied on rainwater.
Villagers foresee a further rise in visitors, particularly tourists, if there are ample homestays and an enhanced road connection between Mongar and Lhuentse.
Lhuentse boasts numerous significant religious sites, but locals often inquire specifically about visits to Rinchen Bumpa, given its sacred nature.
Under the guidance of Khenpo Gembo Dorji, nine dedicated monks at Rinchen Bumpa balance their studies with responsibilities like meal preparation and maintaining guest rooms.
Khenpo Gembo, residing here for nine years, expressed his commitment to ensuring a comfortable stay for all pilgrims, stating, “Those who lack bedding and provisions, we provide for them.”
Encouragingly, people from diverse backgrounds visit Rinchen Bumpa seeking blessings. Khenpo Gembo is overseeing road construction from Kuenzangling to Ney, aiming to shorten the distance. Cleanliness and well-kept footpaths contribute to a pleasant environment.
Rinchen Bumpa, the site where Guru Rinpoche meditated in the eighth century, holds spiritual significance. Praying from Guru Rinpoche’s meditation spot is believed to fulfill aspirations and lead to nirvana.
The cliff of Neychen Rinchen Bumpa, resembling a stupa, has three layers symbolising the blessings of Choeku, Longku, and Trulku (Buddha, Avalokiteshvara, and Guru Rinpoche). Despite enduring forest fires in 1998 and 2003, the cliff revealed Dzongkha letters and mantras, a testament to its sacred nature.
Beneath Rinchen Bumpa’s cliff lie several other sacred sites, taking more than three hours to cover. Visitors are intrigued by the emergence of mythical religious scripts when the early sunrays illuminate a carved stone, believed to be the archery target of Rahula, the dharma protector.
A pilgrim from Wangdue affirmed, “Neychen Rinchen Bumpa is worth visiting despite the lengthy journey. It is spiritually fulfilling, and the place exudes serenity.”
The blessings of khandros Yeshey Tshogyal and Momo Tashi Kheydron, along with those of prominent Buddhist masters, add to the site’s sanctity. Numerous imprints and sacred relics of Guru, Dakinis, and Buddhist masters provide further spiritual resonance.
Prophecies suggest hidden treasures of Guru Rinpoche and Khandros await discovery in the future. Adjacent to Rinchen Bumpa, a temple housing a wish-fulfilling Guru statue and sacred relics stands. The surrounding mountains, diverse flora, and fauna contribute to the enchanting journey towards this sacred site.