Monday, August 1, 2011

The floating statue of Chumphu nye

I had long heard of Chumphu Nye in Paro - about a magical statue floating in the air. And like a typical Bhutanese I waited for the perfect moment to make a pilgrimage there.  That moment never came.  And so last Sunday I decided I was going there and off I went – joined by three of my friends.

Way to Chumphu
At Dop Shari, we ask for direction with a local woman.  "Drive till the end of the road, there is a temple there.  Then leave your car and walk along the river till you come across two rivers.  Choose the smaller one and you see Chumphu Nye above you atop a hill on your left”.  She was an illiterate farmer but could have been a perfect guide to make people find their way in Thimphu where streets still don’t have names. 

The walk is gentle and except for muddy trail that makes the walk little grueling, the weather, the greenery and the sound of the gushing river are otherwise a nice getaway from my everyday life of phone calls, emails and facebook.  And of course there are nyedo all along the way giving us the excuse to stop and read the description. We also find the key and the gates to the Ter (hidden treasure) and so we are also on the right path to temporary enlightenment - giving us extra energy. After three hours we finally reach the confluence of the two rivers.  We chose the smaller one and after walking for few meters, Chumphu Nye suddenly appears behind a mountain on our left – some 3000 feet from where we stand.  An uphill trail welcomes us and we are almost with our last energy reserve.  We push ourselves up till we are at the doorstep of the temple gasping for breath.

Dorji Phamo (Vajararahi)
The resident lama, Namgay Rinchen was giving tea to some twenty-thirty school students who were there before us.  “Tea, tea!  You must be tired.  Have some tea and then I will lead you inside.”  Namgay’s eyes target me and my friends.  After two rounds of tea and some zaw, lama Namgay shepherds us in and starts with a detailed background of the place from the time when Guru Rimpoche first set his foot after Taktsang and meditated here for two months to Gyalwa Sacha Rinchen who built the first temple here.  He continues, “Chumphu Nye is the second tsari[1] – the first one was in Tibet, the famed Tsari Rongkor.  But the one there was prophesied long time back to see a steady decline. Chumphu Nye would then become the main tsari”  Lama Namgay pauses to move his face away towards the main altar. “And the main statue in the centre is Dorji Phamo”.  

We all turn towards a beautiful life-size statue.  “There are two things you need to know about this statue.”  Lama Namgay continues, “First, it is not resting on anything.  It is floating in the air.  That is because the statue is not man-made.  It is Dorji Phamo who appeared in person and turned herself to a statue.  Second, anything you wish for, here, will come true.”  As Lam Namgay continues talking to my friends I am drawn away from the group towards the statue. “Not man-made? Floating? Defying the gravity?” I repeat to myself staring at her face. Suddenly I feel something strange inside me – an unexplainable feeling of deep sadness, penitence and eternal bliss.  At that moment, Lam Namgay finishes talking. “Come!” He ushers the group towards me and the altar.  He opens the lower shutter enclosing the statue.  “Look here! Her foot is not touching the base.”  He slides a Nu. 10 note below the foot to show us that there was a small gap.”  Everyone is dumbfounded, including me.  "Now you can pray and make a wish," Lama Namgay smiles proudly and steps aside.

We prostrate three times to the seat of the Lama and three times towards the altar.  I say a few lines of prayers I know.  When we are done, Lam Namgay suggests us to visit the small lake (actually a pool carved into the rocks by a beautiful waterfall), which we do.  It is just ten-minute walk above the temple.  Another mind-blowing place!
The key to the sacred place

When we return to the temple, Lama Namgay offers us more tea and suggests we stay for the night.  I really wish I could.  But I have to get back to my work and to my life of phone calls, emails and facebook.  But as we were leaving I suddenly turn back to have a word with him.  “Look Lama Namgay!  I had a strange feeling when I was inside there - in front of Dorji Phamo.  She nearly made me break down and cry,” I ask him.  “It happens,” he replies solemnly.  “But only to few people.  You must be a special person,” Lama Namgay looks to me admiringly.  “Noooooooo!” I deny his offer. “I think somewhere deep inside me I was repentant of all my sins.  I think my subconscious was asking for forgiveness from Dorji Phamo”.  I joke. “May be!” Lama Namgay replies.  We both laugh.  “You must come again.  And next time you must spend more time here.  And if there is any prayer ceremony I could do here, just let me know.”  Lama Namgay makes me promise I would return.  We have instantly become friends.  This is Bhutan.

Chumphu Nye from the lake

It starts drizzling when we make our descent from Chumphu Nye.  The path is slippery and so our progress is rather slow. When we reach the confluence I look back at the temple above me and as rain gently waters my face, I fold my hand, close my eyes, imagine the face of Dorji Phamo in front of me and I say my prayers and this time I also express a wish.  I then take leave of Chumphu Nye.

As we hit the trail along the river again I begin to reflect on an amazing day i just lived.  I realize that it was not me who was special.  It is people like Lama Namgay and places like Chumphu nye that are special.  People like Lama Namgay who offers tea to pilgrims irrespective who they were and Chumphu Nye that emits divine power in this day and age.  These are the things that help to keep our country unique and strong.  After all, there are more beautiful rivers, higher mountains and greener forests elsewhere in the world.  Had it not been for the blessings of these places and the dedication of people who maintain them, this country would have been just another place on Earth.

The lake above the nye
NB - 
1.  Photography inside the temple is not allowed.  Hence the above is just a painting of Dorji Phamo - not the actual statue in Chumphu Nye.

2.  Chumphu nye can be a day-trip from Thimphu.  Wake up early, leave around 7am, get at the road head at 9am, keep four hours to hike there and two hours to hike back. Leave at least two hours to visit the area.    

[1] Tsari – means pure crystal mountain – abode of Dorji Phagmo (vajrarahi in sanskrit). 


  1. after a very long time....when i am going through your post, i realized like for how long i have waited to read something like this from you la.

    Anyways, totally agree with you la, its people like Namgay and many others who work day in and day out to keep our country's origin and roots intact and involved in us.

    Sir i would love if you add some photographs of the temple and the statue.:)

  2. curious to know what you wished for.......

    your article made me feel must go to see for myself

  3. @Sogyel.... My apologies to everyone. promise I would be little more regular on my blog.

    @Anonymous... A man should some secrets and somethings sacred. My wish will be strictly between us (me and Dorji Phamo)

  4. Sir, it is awesome that you had brought the detail of Chumphu's really a sacred place and i request everyone to make a visit...i am planning my third visit in september this year. i am sharing this post to all my friends...May your wish be fulfiled and may you be blessed with Dorji Phamo.
    And i like the hospitality of lam Namgay too...

  5. Thanks Dorji for your kind sharing all these good things and the way to Buddhism.

  6. i just visited this nye yesterday...very amazing.... especially the floating Dorji Pham...breath taking indeed....

  7. Nice article sir. I hope to visit the place some day.

  8. This reminded me my beautiful trip to Chumphu Goenpa....and I am truly impressed with how you have jotted down its history with adventure la......I did research on it and like you have mentioned, Chumphu and its precious treasures are really astonishing....:)

  9. comment on the last end note: vajrarahi or Vajravarahi?

  10. hi... i have heard about this sacred nye from many sources...but i was always confused about the approach... your detail informations on trail has now enhanced my navigation skills ... will visit th sacred nye of dorjee phamo at the earliest...thank you from a tibetan man from sikkim....;)

  11. I happen to know about floating statue of Vajra Varahi in Bhutan to day through Sri Regonda Swamy, Varahi Mata's ardent devote.He recently built a temple for Varaahi Mata in Regonda, Warangal District, Telegana with her blessings. He was not aware of the place excepting that it is in Bhutan. Staying far off in AP/Telegana, how to reach the goddess and get her blesses was a difficult proposition for us. But with your this blog, task is made very easy. Thanks and Regards.

  12. nice... i am planning to visit this sacred nay on 3rd nov. I just google it for prior information and am extremely happy to read your blog. Thanks you. By the way, you article almost made me break down.. Now that my hairs are straightening, i would definitely visit this beautiful yet very sacred Nye. thank you.

  13. Likewise, I am planning to take my family and staffs to the Nye on 14th May 2016 but the excitement is already so much that 48 hours is going to be very long. Thanks for the information.

  14. Likewise, I am planning to take my family and staffs to the Nye on 14th May 2016 but the excitement is already so much that 48 hours is going to be very long. Thanks for the information.

  15. I would appreciate if anyone can narrate the detail story about it. It sound interesting to hear. I

  16. I have also visited the Nye. It was so wonderful. There were about 24 of us, off the 24, 3 of us were in front and walked bit faster than them. We arrived at stupa where we can take rest and see the temple of Dorji Phagmo. We continued to walk but we saw about 5 monks standing and looking downwards from the the two stupa built bellow the temple. We discussed that they could be basking the sun,however, as we reached the junction where it indicated the direction, long way and short cut to temple, we have chosen to take the short cut and as 3 of us arrived just bellow the temple where two stupas were built the time was exactly 10:30am from 8:30am from road stop point. We have taken exactly 2 hours. We waited for our friends for an hour. Then we moved to meet the care taker. But we're surprised to see that there were no monks. As all friends gathered we went inside...Every body thought that the statue could be about 1 feet tall but it was beyond our imagination, we were shown the floating statue by the care taker and explanation after as what this writer has mentioned. After seeing this floating statue, my tears was rolling down my cheeks....It was so wonderful. Please you can visit if get time....winter time will be best for you. You can take cap so that you can prevent yourself from getting sun burn....Thanks. ..Have a wonderful visit...