The Spring of Enlightenment
To the west of the Kathmandu valley, beyond the winding roads and valleys and endless Pahari hills, there lies a realm in which the very stones are etched with Guru Padmasambhava’s heroic efforts to curb the savage spirits of the land. The Mahaguru’s journey to Tibet brought him through this place, and he displayed incredible feats here as he brought down haughty demons and led them to the Dharma. Here, known as Kyechok Tsulzang, Eminent Noble Being, he left an outpouring of power and blessings that remain available for everyone to this day. The sacred spring itself is at the heart of this site, as we can tell from its name, Chumik Changchup, Spring of Awakening.
Words from the Masters
The significance of this site is captured in the following work:
Barché Lamsel - Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
How to get there
Chumik Changchup sits within the forested landscape of the Rikheshwor Jungle, near the village of Daman, 100 km southwest of Kathmandu, about halfway to Hetauda. It is approximately a 4 hour drive from Kathmandu, in the district of Makwanpur. This area is known for the rhododendron forests that bloom in springtime, transforming the whole area into a sea of red blossoms. Some of the best mountain views in the whole of Nepal are found here, a panorama that sweeps from Dhaulagiri in the west to Mount Everest in the east. The great Himalayan range stretches as far as the eye can see, punctuated by the snow-capped peaks of Annapurna, Manaslu, and Ganesh Himal, to name but a few. On a clear day in spring, the snow peaks hang above great splashes of red, as the rhododendron drench the lower hills with color. Here, there is the sense of an environment steeped in sacred history, all the more precious for being untouched by the busy pace of Kathmandu.
We recommend visiting Chumik Changchup between February and April, since this is when the rhododendrons are in bloom. Another good time is September—November, once the monsoon has stopped and before the winter begins. Visiting in autumn may also give you panoramic views of the entire Himalaya.
We recommend that you travel by jeep in a small group. Jeep taxis to Daman are offered by the various travel organizations in Kathmandu. A jeep taxi can hold 5-6 people comfortably, and the ride will take about 4–5 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic. Thus, if you leave early in the morning, it is possible to go from Kathmandu to Chumik Changchup and back again in one day, albeit a full one. You can also stay overnight in Daman.
Adventurous low-budget travelers can also reach Chumik Changchup by bus. These leave for Palung from the Balaju bus station in Kathmandu. Microbuses also run to Daman and Hetauda. Please be aware that the ride will be long, uncomfortable, and possibly dangerous—due to a unique driving style common in Nepal and India.
As this is considered to be one of the most spectacular (but not particularly easy) mountain-bike trails in Nepal, you can also get to Chumik Changchup by bicycle. Please check with a travel agent in Kathmandu for more information.
food and accommodation
Daman village offers hotels, guesthouses and the Mountain Resort—to suit different budgets. Food is readily available wherever you stay, as well as in the shops and local tea-houses.
Entrance to ChumiK ChangchuP - 27°36'05.3"N 85°05'10.8"E
This is the start of the path, the trailhead which leads to the spring. The sign announces it to be the entrance to “Shree Rikeshwar”, the name by which it is known to non-Buddhist Nepalis.
ChumiK ChangchuP, The Spring - 27°35'59.2"N 85°04'52.9"E
The spring itself is located at ground level, in the corner of a stone platform. A glass wall has recently been erected for its protection. The water is clean and pure. To the left of the spring is a stupa, and several stone statues and images of Avalokiteshvara, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Guru Rinpoché. To the right, above the spring, is another stone platform where one can sit and meditate. Here, Guru Rinpoche’s face is visible in a rock. Some say it’s naturally arisen, others believe it’s carved.
The resident yogi Lama Rigdzin advises that, while visiting this place, one should recite Guru Rinpoche prayers, such as the Barché Lamsel, and also his mantra:
om ah hung benza guru pema siddhi hung
In addition, he advises reciting the mantra of Buddha Shakyamuni:
teyatha om muné muné mahamuné shakyamunayé soha
Himalaya Viewing Tower and Trekking Trails - 27°35'50.9"N 85°05'26.7"E
There is a viewing tower located inside the Daman Mountain Resort (where food and accommodation are also available). From here, it takes approximately 30 minutes to walk to Chumik Changchup. If you are interested in exploring the area further, and perhaps going trekking, please ask at your guesthouse for information.