Conquering the demons

When you establish the teaching of the buddhas
And you practice in the Slate Mountain forest,
Your ‘phurba of approach’ soars into the wide open sky.
You catch it with the vajra mudra, roll it between your hands,
And hurl it into the Sandalwood Forest,
Which bursts into flames, vaporising its lake.
In an instant, you burn the land of the tirthikas to ashes,
And crush their dark yaksha lords to dust!
— Barché Lamsel, the Prayer that Removes All Obstacles on the Path

Far from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, that great convergence of temples and stupas, there is, to the east, Yarinak – a cave and rocky cliff-face, sheltered by the Slate Mountain Forest. This is the place where the Guru retreated to practice Vajrakilaya, the yidam of enlightened activity, and where he became known as Dükyi Shechen, Slayer of Demons. With this mastery, he subdued the enemies of the Dharma. It is still possible to visit the rocky caves where he practiced and find remnants of the time that he spent there. Yarinak is an unbeatable site for connecting with the Guru’s wrathful aspect, with the practices that eliminate the obstacles that hinder realization of the essence of the path.

Words from the Masters

The significance of this site is captured in the following works:

How to get there


By Jeep: Yarinak is about 80 km from Boudha, a drive which takes three hours. Be warned that the last 30 km is along a bumpy, unpaved road.

By Bus: From Kathmandu you can reach Yarinak by local bus. First, take a bus from Kathmandu to Banepa. From Banepa, buses leave for Timal twice daily, at 12 pm and 2 pm. Ask the driver to drop you at Yangpel School. From here you go south down the slope to the cave (see below). The dry lake is 2.7 km further on (a 30 min walk or 15 min drive from Yangpel school bus stop, past the village of Narayanthan). To return to Kathmandu, buses leave at 10 and 11am from the school bus stop. Because of the bus schedule, you will need to stay overnight at Yarinak. Ask the cave’s caretaker, Dutman Tamang, for help with accommodation. This will be a homestay.

From the Yangpel school bus stop, make your way south past several village houses and down the steps that lead directly to the Guru’s stone footprint, and you will reach the cave a few meters below. After visiting the cave, you can return to the road and drive or walk the remaining 2.7 km from the school bus stop to the dry lake and monastery described below.

food and accommodation

Food options are very limited. There is one tea-shop near the bus stop, opposite Yangpel School. Other than this, small shops and tea-shops can be found 2 km further on (10 minutes by car), in Narayanthan village. Currently, there is no regular accommodation available, aside from homestays arranged by Dutman Tamang, the caretaker of Yarinak. There are now plans to build a guesthouse which should be able to provide accommodation and food for groups of up to ten people.


When get to Yarinak, you’ll eventually run into the caretaker, Dutman Tamang. He has been looking after the cave and surroundings since 2002. He helped improve the path down to the cave, building the stairs and hand-rails, a project sponsored by Sangyum Sonam Chodron, the consort of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and mother to Mingyur Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche. Dutman Tamang is happy to talk to pilgrims and explain the symbolism of the stone formations in and around the cave. As mentioned above, he can also help you arrange food and accommodation as needed.

Yarinak: 27°31'33.0"N 85°43'21.3"E

As you walk down from the village above, you’ll be treated to vast views of the valley and hills.

Guru Rinpoche’s Boot

Amazingly, as you follow the path to the cave, you will find, coming out of the living stone, a full leg complete with boot — Guru Rinpoche emerging from the cliffside!

Guru Rinpoche CavE

Be sure to look out for these stone formations:

  • Tiger’s head, right above the entrance

  • Drum, conch shell and trumpet, on your left as you enter

  • Phurba or kila-dagger

  • Sogshing (“tree of life-force”) at the very end of the cave

  • Gargyen (“round ornament of the torma”)

The Lower Shrine Area

There is a small seating area that juts out from the cliff face, offering an an incredible view of the valley below. Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche consecrated a new statue of Guru Rinpoche here during the Fire Monkey Year of 2016.

Look out for these objects naturally-arisen in the stone:

  • Mala

  • Stupa

  • White kila-dagger, in the rock above the roof that protects the lower shrine

  • Guru Rinpoche’s footprint, above the lower shrine

  • Various sacred syllables

Further Afield

Guru Rinpoche Statue: 27°30'49.2"N 85°44'39.0"E

2.7 km (15 min drive) from Yangpel School bus stop, there’s a dry lake with a huge Guru Rinpoche statue on a pillar in the middle. Local people refer to this place by the line from Barché Lamsel – Yaksha nagpo dul du log” (“You crushed dark yakshas into dust!”). Above the lake is a hill with a young pine forest. According to caretaker Dutman Tamang, the lake sometimes has some water, but mostly remains dry.

Arya Avalokiteshvara Dhyan Gompa: 27°30'50.1"N 85°44'42.6"E

To the north-east of the lake is a small temple named Arya Avalokiteshvara Dhyan Gompa. On the temple shrine are statues of Avalokiteshvara, Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Rinpoche, all made by Lama Chödrup. Behind the gompa is a row of eight stupas dedicated to the main events of the life of Buddha Shakyamuni.

on the way to yarinak

Namo Buddha: 27°34'18.3"N 85°34'59.9"E

Namo Buddha, or Takmo Lüjin in Tibetan, can be found on the way to Yarinak. Namo Buddha is one of the most sacred sites in Nepal. Thus, if you go by jeep you may want to pay a visit, either on the way to Yarinak or as you return. Namo Buddha marks the place where the Buddha, in one of his former lives, as prince Mahasattva, offered his body to a hungry tigress and her cubs. The tremendous merit of this extraordinary, selfless act created the auspicious causes and conditions for him to attain awakening in his next life as Buddha Shakyamuni. The stupa built here to commemorate this event is said to contain the bones and hair of the prince Mahasattva. The Namo Buddha Stupa is one of the three most important stupas in Kathmandu, the others being Boudha and Swayambhu. It is said to be highly meritorious to do a pilgrimage in one day to all three stupas, and circumambulate them.

Next stop on The Journey: Chumik Changchub →