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Chimpuk Caves

Located 8 kilometers (5 miles) away from the Samye Monastery, the caves enjoy every bit as much veneration and worship as the Samye Monastery by Tibetan Buddhists. The Buddhists would tell you that without visiting the Chimpuk Caves, your travel to the notable monastery will not be complete.
Embraced by lush hills on three sides and facing the broad Yarlong Tsangbo River Valley, the Chimpuk Caves is renowned not only for being the most famous meditation place of Tibetan Buddhism, but also for its unique humane climate and beautiful scenery presented at an altitude of 4,300m (14,108 ft). Numerous small retreat caves and hermitages are located on the hills, among which those once inhabited by Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche to Tibetans), Yeshe Tsogyal (student of Padmasambhava) and Trisong Detsen (742-798, the fifth Tibetan king) are the most prestigious. Handprints and footprints impressed on rocks can be found everywhere, and the enormous footprint on the Guruta Rock is said to have been left by Padmasambhava.
It was here that many valuable Buddhist sutras were buried by the persecuted monks to avoid the destruction of Lang Darma at the end of the first transmission of Buddhism into Tibet. Some were uncovered in the second transmission of Buddhism by pilgrims and eminent lamas, whereas others still remain under the earth, alluring the pious Buddhists to discover them.   Currently, the caves are inhabited by over 200 Buddhists, 70% of whom are nuns. Leading a simple life which might be unbearable for the commoners, these dedicated Buddhists believe that the Chimpuk Caves - the place in which Padmasambhava meditated and taught Dharma to his disciples - will bring them more spiritual achievements in meditation.  

Occasionally, there are trucks from the Samye Monastery to the Chimpuk Caves, depending on the number of people who share the route. Chartering a truck costs CNY 200-300, while renting a tractor only costs CNY 40 for all. Hiking is possible if you are confident about your physical condition, and it usually takes 5-8 hours to reach the caves from the monastery.  

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