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Shey Gompa and Crystal Mountain – Spritual Heart of Upper Dolpo

Shey Gompa

Shey-crystal Mountain (Ribo Drugta) and Shey Gompa is the one of the most sacred Himalayan pilgrimages of Nepal. It has the legendary connection in Buddhism, located in the north of the Phoksundo lake in Upper Dolpo with the elevation of 4160m from sea level, is the spiritual heart of Dolpo. His immense holiness Tuptop Singe Yeshe had enlightened from Shey-Gonpa. The Crytal Mountain (Ribo Drugta) is the major panoramic and pilgrimage of Shey gonpa. The crystal mountain (Ribo Drukta) is also known as the younger brother of Mt. Kailash.

History and Legend of Shey and Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain Upper Dolpo

The holiness of Crystal Mountain is based on legend. A thousand and so years ago Buddhist ascetic Gyamgon Rimpoche, the main Lama of the Thiwong Gyamgon Gompa, the main gompa of Kakyupa sect, one of the four major sects of Buddhism, once dreamt about the Shey area where he’d never been before and he sent one of his most brilliant disciple to explore the Shey pilgrimage. Drutop Shinge Yeshe, as per his guru’s order, left Tibet and visited Dolpo. He first saw Shey from Saikpa Kang of present Bhijer. When he found the people whose supreme god was a wild mountain spirit. Then he tried to overcome fierce the mountain spirit, using the flying snow loin, a legendary companion of snow leopard as amount but spirit resisted by unleashing a horde of snake beings. However snow lion reproduces itself 108 times, once for each book of Buddhist scriptures, and with this reinforcement, Drutop vanquished the spirit and transformed into ‘a thundering Mountain of purest Crystal’.

“I flew through the sky on a snow lion and there among the clouds I perform miracles. But not even greatest of celestial feasts can equal to once rounding on foot this crystal mountain.”  – Druptop Senge Yeshe

Based on Drutop’s words, the people of Dolpo gather during July/August before the barely harvest to do circumambulate (kora) crystal mountain. On the full-moon day, the throng begins its trek. Then celebrant scrapes rock dust from the sacred mountain and swallows with water. The pilgrims cross a pass where the prayers flag shape in the wind, on the way to the circle of Crystal Mountain a glacial lake is located where the snow lion gamboled in victory; they joined hands and dance in a circle to the music of a lute. This ten miles circuit ends in the cave where Drutop Senge Yeshe attained enlightenment and where reliquary holds his ashes.

Myths of Crystal Mountain and Shey

One day Druptop Senge Yheshe was in kora of Crystal Mountain on his lion, certainly, he felt thirsty and thought to prepare some tea with the support of some stones around. But each stone he turned was carved ‘Om’, the holiest word. He regretted being on a lion in such a holiest pilgrimage and he made seven koras on his foot and by the time he reached top of Crystal Mountain, and he saw Mt. Kailash in Tibet as bottom up a bowl, that’s why Crystal Mountain is believed to a be younger brother of Mt. Kailash. Still now, if one makes seven koras of Crystal Mountain he can reach the top. Duptop Senge Yeshe started living in Shey making Komoche gompa (which is still in existence) not returned to Tibet.

In every twelve years cycle of Buddhist calendar, each year represented by a different animal and each year with the importance of twelve different pilgrimages, which including Mt. Kailash in Tibet, SwayambhuNath in Kathmandu, Shey in Dolpo and other in many other places in the world. The Shey is major pilgrimage during Dragon year. There is a religious belief that if one makes kora of Crystal Mountain in dragon year is equals visiting 11 rests of the major pilgrimages. The great festival falls for one week from full moon of the seventh month in Tibetan Calendar.

During the festival, all the Buddhist followers from the region and beyond gather to the place and perform typical dances, wear traditional and antique dresses and different events like horse riding, archery and lama dances are organized. There is religious preaching by the fifth reincarnation of Tuptup Singe Yeshe and other respected high lamas. Great and holy pujas and blessings are also made during the festival.

Gompas in Shey

There are three Gompas in Shey village such as Komoche Gonpa (valuable Gonpa), Sel sumdo Gonpa, Tsakhang gompa. Komoche Gonpa is the gompa where his immense holiness Tuptop Singe Yeshe had been a solitary meditation on many years ago and which is located on the rock. This is a Kagyupa temple and constructed by accomplished Singe Yeshe.It is also known as the stupa of ‘complete Victory’ and footprints of master Senge Yeshe are the key manifestations at this site.

Inside the Shel Sumdo Gompa

Tsakhang Gonpa and Shel sumdo Gonpa are Kagyu-Nyingma monasteries which are constructed by lamaTenzin Repa. Tsakhang Gonpa is located on the rock of Crystal Mountain. Tsakhang Gompa is in the cluster of three monasteries under Shey Gompa, the seat of Dolpo Shel-ri Rinpoche. It is situated at more than 16,000 feet above sea-level in Shey, Upper Dolpo.A disciple of the second Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Palden Khyentse Oser, the previous third Dolpo Shel-ri Rinpoche spent many years in solitary retreat at Tsakhang Gompa.

Tsakang Gompa

In the conclusion, Shey is not only historical Buddhism place but also inhabitance of Himalayan wild animals such as Blue Sheep, Snow-leopard, marmots, wild rabbits, birds, Himalayan cats and many more wild animals and birds. Therefore Shey is also a major attraction of Shey-Phoksundo national park. As it is a holy place, hunting of wild animals is strictly restricted in the area.Hence, sometimes that wild animal such as snow leopard gives trouble to local people by attacking their domestic animals goats, sheep, yaks, horses, and cows.     

 Shey Gompa

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