For Buddhists, Beyul Langdra in Wangdue Phodrang represents a real paradise where hundreds of devotees come every year to receive blessings from the sacred monuments believed to have been left behind by the great Buddhist Master, Guru Padmasambhava during the eighth century.
The oral tradition has it that when Guru Rinpoche was meditating here, a ferocious local deity appeared in the form of a bull to distract and attack him. But Guru Rinpoche, in the manifestation of Guru Ugyen Dorji Gur, subdued the deity with his supernatural powers and made him the guardian deity and protector of Dharma.
It is believed that Guru Rinpoche hid more than 60 sacred treasures in and around the cliff to be discovered by prophesied treasure revealers over the years. As a result, the name of this place came to be known as Beyul Langdra which means ‘The Hidden Treasure of the Bull Cliff’.
Over the centuries, the place was blessed and consecrated by many great Buddhist Masters such as Kuenkhen Longchen Rabjampa and popular treasure discoverers like Pema Lingpa, Dorji Lingpa and Sherab Mebar.
However, the place had remained largely hidden even to the Bhutanese despite being blessed by several great Buddhist Masters since the 14th century. It was only in 1988 that people began to hear about the site after His Holiness Chatral Rinpoche officially revealed the discovery of this sacred site.
Probably due to its late discovery, it is considered one of the most sacred and undefiled religious sites in Bhutan. Today, it has a retreat center at the foot of the valley called Drupdra Ozer Samtenling and a temple housing one 10-foot tall statue of Guru Ugyen Dorji Gur and two 6-foot tall statues of Khandro Yeshi Tshogyal and Khandro Mandarawa, the two consorts of Guru Rinpoche. Behind the temple is the sacred rock engraved with the magical seal and footprint of Guru Rinpoche himself.
On 30th January 2018, I became one of the luckiest souls to set my foot in this heavenly paradise. For a pilgrim, scaling the uphill trail to the top of the hill from the road-head generates a unique energy that draws you closer to enlightenment. It makes you feel part of the rich tapestry of religious history which inspires people from all corners of Bhutan. Although it took about three hours for me to reach the sacred site, the journey left me with a unique experience. The spectacular beauty of the natural environment along the trail and the absolute tranquility that accompanied us throughout the journey made me feel as though we were walking through the magical land, blest by Guru Rinpoche himself.
Despite the difficult terrain we had to pass through, I was glad that I could finally complete the mission successfully. I have to thank my colleague, Tashi Phuntsho who strongly believed in my strength and gave me the motivation to continue the journey each time I collapsed down. At last, after almost three hours of painful struggle, I was at the top of the world, filled with immense joy and excitement as I stood at the entrance of the holy temple, surrounded by the sacred monuments blessed by Guru Rinpoche himself and other great Buddhist Masters who had visited the site in the past. After a round of delicious tea and snacks offered to us by monks residing in the area, I went in and around the temple, praying and receiving blessings from the statues and monuments that form part of the sacred legacy of Beyul Langdra.
With this pilgrimage, I could fulfill one of the biggest dreams of my life. It is said that when Tertoen Dorji Lingpa was meditating here, Guru Rinpoche appeared before him and declared that visiting this place itself can liberate a person from the world of sufferings. At the end of the day, I personally felt truly blest and liberated as I walked downhill on our way back home.
By Amrith Bdr Subba
The writer is a visually challenged counselor at the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education.