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LAMA LACHEN GHOMCHEN RINPOCHE'S HERMITAGE

High up north of Lachen is this hermitage at 14,000 feet

TREKKING TO THE MEDITATION CAVES

We start early at 6.30am from the hotel in Lachen and make our way by jeep to Asha's dolpa hut. The trek starts at 7.30am and takes three and a half hours to get to both meditation caves. The weather is very unpredictable here so we will take a local guide and I recommend using artic poles, mountaineering kit and wearing plenty of layers. The weather can be cold at the bottom but with little sunshine, you can warm up quickly. Two days after this video was taken, the whole area was impassable with snow

ALEXANDRA CAVE

Alexandra David-Neel had her meditation cave a few hundred feet lower than her teacher, Lama Lachen Ghomchen Rinpoche's cave. She stayed in this cave around 1912 for around 18 months and had a helper who carried water and prepared food.and stayed nearby. She was given an honorary title of Lama and when she came back to France after writing about her exploits in Tibet, and became an instant overnight celebrity.

KALEP VALLEY LANDSCAPE

The landscape is both breathtaking and surreal with apocalyptic burnt trees standing upright with no branches and the depth of mountains in the background. I was so taken back by this landscape that I used it for my logo for Sikkim Tours

ALEXANDRA DAVID-NEEL

Alexandra cave is marked by a white scarf only (Khata) which is now the rear wall of the cave. A few years ago, an earthquake destroyed the front wall of the cave. You can read more about her experiences in Sikkim and Tibet by going to the Read More button below

LAMA LACHEN GHOMCHEN'S CAVE

I've been to many sacred places in the world and been in retreat at some of them but I've never experienced something as sacred and powerful as this place before. I've been drawn here karmically and I felt protected coming here up a challenging and arduous trek. I did a small practise here which was like being in a long retreat. I am sure you will feel the same as I did if you are a Buddhist practitioner

BREATHTAKING VISTA AND SACREDNESS

I haven't been at 14,000 feet before where the air is a little thin. The sheer enormity of the mountain peaks around the cave and the snow covered peaks in all directions gives a vista like no other. You feel isolated and privilege to be in what has to be, one of the most sacred and beautiful areas of the world. Not many people come here unless you are a yak herdsman which adds to the serenity and any person would feel the same here.

DOLPA HUT, NORTH LACHEN

At the end of the trek, we will have the best black tea, dill and rice you can imagine cooked by the kind heart of Asha who is a Dolpa. The authentic dolpa hut (Yak Herdsman) is simple but has a warm and comforting feel after a 7 hour trek to the mediatation caves. Its smoke covered ceiling and simple clay fire with dirt floor brings about a sense of humility one can only find in the mountains

LAMA LACHEN GOMCHEN RIMPOCHE IIIi

Lama Lachen Ghomchen Rinpoche III sits outside his hermitage in the Kalep Valley, north of Sikkim in full meditation pose.  It was his summer retreat as his would be in the Lachen Monastery during the winter. He stayed here for 14 years from 1912 to 1926. He was said to have flying powers and flew up to paint the symbols above the cave. You can see these symbols in my video above on this page, outside his cave.