Drukpa Zimkhang, Aleo, Manali
This home of His Holiness Ngawang Jigme, the 9th Shabdrung and his wife Khandro Thrinlay Chodon was built in 1985. Bhutanese devotees came all the way from Bhutan to offer their traditional skills of art, masonry and carpentry for its construction.
Surrounded by a small beautiful garden, this residence contains intimate living quarters as well as a small reception area and an ancient-style shrine room with very powerful Mahakala protection of the Shabdrung lineage. It is the base of compassionate activities and is frequented both by many local devotees as well as visitors from around the globe.
Since the demise of His Holiness on 4th April 2003, his devoted wife has lovingly maintained and expanded her home residence and its activities consistent with the wishes of her late husband whose sacred imprints have a strong presence. Agu-la, a Bhutanese devotee from Manla, the same village as the 9th Shabdrung, Ngawang Jigme, has been caretaking this home since 1999. He is now joined by his wife Abbi, and father the elderly Meme-la, both also from East Bhutan. This team of three are genuine lay practitioners and today serve his wife Khandro Thrinlay Chodon and her activities with the same zeal and commitment as His Holiness the 9th Shabdrung himself.
One of the visionary projects of Khachodling is to offer sustainable spiritual and humanitarian support for the local community and, in the process, quite organically, Drukpa Zimkhang has increasingly became the base for such activities. Khandro Thrinlay Chodon has expanded the land around to enable organic vegetable gardening as well as the addition of a “Five Element Garden”. This garden offers practitioners a quiet reflective outside sacred space with deep meaning. Annually around the time of Losar (New Year), there is a huge community practice and celebration, where prayer flags are changed on the unique 100ft flagpole. The flagpole used to have to be lowered and re-raised each year with the help of more than 30 men. As this was quite dangerous, last year Khachodling invested in a more permanent metal flagpole. At the age of 60 plus, Agu-la still climbs it every year to change the flags when all the community come together for puja, blessings and a shared meal. Over the last 18 years Drukpa Zimkhang has had many improvements including a refurbished store room and kitchen, a specialised room for butter lamps and outside toilets. The next major project close to the heart of Khandro Thrinlay Chodon, is to construct a shrine room at the top of the home which will house a unique hand carved Vajrayogini statue.
With her compassionate heart, every Sunday, Khandro Thrinlay Chodon opens her home and offers a Himalayan culture and education class for local children and women. This began only with children yet, especially mothers and friends found they too wanted to learn, and so now they also attend and many other dharma activities have grown from this seed. A local women’s group of Khachodling has formed which is very active in both spiritual and humanitarian activities. They support women and are working on small scale sustainable economic activities as well as a range of local environmental projects. In the time of this Covid-19 pandemic, Khandro Thrinlay Chodon devoted her time to deepen her connection and commitment and to share her knowledge and wisdom for the benefit of others and this home has become an active Himalayan dharma hub.
In these many ways, Khandro Thrinlay Chodon and Khachodling has facilitated help for a community in need – not only in their lives, but also in their hearts, injecting a vibrancy and sustainability into the local community. Drukpa Zimkhang has become an active dharma hub for monks and nuns, yogis, yoginis, children and laypeople of both the lineages of Shakya Shri and Shabdrung.
Khachodling Nunnery, Sani, Zanskar
Khachodling Hermitage and Medical Centre, Mulbeck, Ladakh
Other Himalayan Hermitages
Kyabje Apho Rinpoche, together with his wife and entourage, tirelessly travelled on foot and horseback over rough terrains and high passes, reviving the tradition of Drubwang Shakya Shri in the Indian Himalayas. Each of his children, blood and bone lineage holders, were born in various parts of the Himalayas while journeying – in Sikkim, Lahoul, Pangi, and Gotsang – before the family settled into the Manali home and Gompa.
The hermitages established and revived by Kyabje Apho Rinpoche still exist to this day and are a beacon of yogic practice. Yogis unwaveringly train in the teachings of Milarepa and “The Six Yogas of Naropa”. Tummo, also known as “psychic heat”, is a meditation practice of this lineage that allows the yogi to control their body temperature at high altitudes in the deep snow of the Himalayan winter. In 2002, Harvard University published a paper based on their observations of this practice.
Khachodling supports, wherever possible, the now elderly, hidden yogis/yoginis, as well as the many simple hermitages of the Shakya Shri lineage that dot these remote Himalayan regions. These include Gotsang (birthplace of Sey Jigme which is above Hemis Monastery near Leh), Khespang (outside of Leh), Kardang Gompa (birthplace of Khandro Thrinlay Chodon in Lahoul) and Peukar Gompa (Lahoul) as well as other communities and hermitages of Pangi (where Sey Jampal was born), Zanskar and Ladakh and Lahoul.