THe place of Awakening, Part II
The sacred site of Yangleshö lies in the environs of Pharping, a fast-growing village tucked into the gentle hills beside the Bagmati River. The two caves—Asura and Yangleshö—are praised as the single most sacred site connected with Guru Padmasambhava outside the land of Tibet.
A general introduction to Pharping as well as a description of the first cave—the upper Yangleshö or Asura Cave—has been given in the previous section. The second cave, the lower Yangleshö cave, or simply Yangleshö is located at the foot of a cliff just below the village, and it is shaded by the forest for much of the day. Thus, it serves as a cool place to meditate during the hot monsoon months.
Guru Rinpoché would travel between Asura Cave and Yangleshö while engaged in his practice, by way of a small crack in the rock that connects the two caves. Kyapjé Chatral Rinpoché (1913–2015) built a small monastery and retreat center at Yangleshö, called Rigdzin Drubpé Gatsal Ling. Rinpoché also recognized the pristine waters of the spring and lagoon below the cave as a second Chumik Changchup. Hindus have long considered this site as sacred to Lord Vishnu. For them, the stone formations found on the cliff are the udders of a cow, said to produce milk on auspicious occasions.
How to get there
For information on how to reach Pharping and food and accommodation, please read the previous section on the Asura Cave.
Way to Yangleshö
Both the taxi and the bus will take you to the start of Pharping. The bus will tend to drop passengers at the football field, which makes for an easy landmark. Whatever your transportation, it will usually take you past the lower cave on the way to the main town. From the football field you can simply walk back down the main road until you see some water ponds and a monastery slightly behind and above them. This is Yangleshö. You can also ask the taxi or bus driver to stop at “Sekh-Narain,” which is the well-known Nepali name for the sacred Hindu shrine at Yangleshö. Yangleshö is easy to spot, thanks to these water pools beside the road.
Yangleshö: 27°36'59.0"N 85°15'50.3"E
Naturally Arisen Conch
A naturally arisen conch is also found near the cave. Just as you walk inside the main gate to Kyapjé Chatral Rinpoché’s monastery, which is to the right of the cave, you’ll see a boulder pocked with holes. Look closer, and you’ll see the conch, which, if blown with skill, will sound.
Pharping Chumig ChangchuP: 27°36'59.2"N 85°15'50.6"E
Below the lower cave of Yangleshö there is a pristine spring and lagoon that was identified by Kyapjé Chatral Rinpoché as a second Chumik Changchup. Below the steps to the cave are various ponds that are fed from this natural spring in the rocks below. This sacred spring is the very site that Rinpoché identified as the sacred site of Chumik Changchup, “spring of enlightenment.” A variety of fish are kept in the pool, and the constant water flowing forth from the spring is used by local farmers to irrigate their fields and wash their clothes.
Jikmé Lingpa’s reliquary stupa: 27°36'59.7"N 85°15'49.7"E
If you continue down from the rock shelter, walking around the monastery and up another small set of steps, you will come to a small black stupa containing relics of Jikmé Lingpa.
The Yangleshö of Yolmo
Entirely separate from this well-known site at Pharping, Kyapjé Chatral Rinpoché identified a second cave that bears the qualities of Yangleshö—within the sacred valley of Yolmo. Nestled just northeast of the Kathmandu valley, Yolmo—or Helambu as the region is also called—is a hidden treasury of sacred sites blessed by the great masters, first and foremost by Guru Rinpoche. He made prophecies about this place as one of his beyul, or “hidden lands”, where his followers would find special benefit if they took the time to venture there and practice.