Pharping is a small town about an hour from Kathmandu. It is the place where Guru Rinpoche is said to have attained enlightenment, and so is one of the most sacred sites associated with the great yogi. Within the area, there are two sacred caves on the mountain side, and a number of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers (mostly Nyingma) in and around the town.
It is recorded that when Guru Rinpoche began the practice of Yangdak Heruka with the consort Shakyadevi, daughter of a king of Nepal, at Pharping, powerful spirits caused a three year drought, with famine and disease throughout the land. To counter these forces, Guru Rinpoche requested his teachers in India to send teachings, and it is said that the very moment the messengers reached Phaping with various tantric texts, the obstacles were immediately pacified and the famine and disease subsided.
Recommended reading: A Buddhist Guide to the Power Places of the Kathmandu Valley – Keith Dowman (http://keithdowman.net/essays/guide-to-kathmandu-valley.html).
Regular buses from Ratna Park Bus Station in Kathmandu. There are no signs in English in the bus station or on the bus, and so passengers will need to ask around to find the correct one. The fare is Rs30 and the journey takes a little over an hour. Pharping is the final stop.
The town is very small and the bazaar can be covered on foot, though it may require a vehicle to reach some of the outlying monasteries, such as Neydo Tashi Choeling. Taxis are available in the town.
- 1 Asura Cave (From the bus stand, walk back to the main road, turn left, and take first right. After a few minutes walk, you will see a sign on the wall (outside a cafe) directing visitors to the cave to take a right (the sign is small, so be aware). At the top of the short incline, there is a temple, turn left and at the end of the retaining wall enter the temple court yard and immediately take a right up steps. From there, follow the path to the cave.). Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, meditated in this cave in the 8th century. The three main images enshrined inside the cave are those of Guru Rinpoche in the middle, Yangdak Heruka to his right and Vajrakilaya to his left. There is a self-‐arisen ཨ་ “A” syllable on the left side of the cave just below an electric bulb, and there is a hand print embedded into the stone above and to the left of the cave entrance.
- Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery A monastery in the Nyedo Kagyu tradition, and under the directorship of the late Karma Chagme Rinpoche, on the left side of the road (when coming from Kathmandu) some distance before entering the village. The main statue is magnificent and definitely worth visiting.
- Rigdzin Drubpe Gatsal Ling Monastery (Chatral Rinpoche's Monastery) (next to Yanglesho Cave). One of two monasteries built by the late yogi Chatral Rinpoche; the other is in Siliguri.
- Self arisen Tara images. On the right side when passing Ralo Rinpoche's monastery (just below the Asura Cave) there is a small shrine that contains an image of Ganesh. To the right of the shrine are two small self-arisen Tara images.
- Vajrayogini Temple. Within the same cave-temple complex, there is a small temple dedicated to Vajrayogini. It is said that Marpa the Translator visited this temple three times when travelling between Tibet to India.
- Yanglesho Cave (a five minute walk from the village in the direction of Kathmandu, above the pond and next to Chatral Rinpoche's monastery). The cave is where Guru Rinpoche practiced meditation and attained the level of mahamudra vidyadhara. It's connected to Asura Cave by a narrow channel.
Visit the sacred caves and monasteries.
A number of shops specialize in religious items.
The main bazaar area has a number of local restaurants serving Nepali, Tibetan, and Indian food.
The are a number of cafes serving instant coffee and tea in the main bazaar.
- Hotel Padmasambhava (on corner of road at the foot of the incline to the temple below the cave.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Clean, simple rooms. Restaurant on ground floor. Not far from Asura Cave. Rs1,000 - Rs1,500.
- Family Guesthouse (From bus stand, walk to main road and turn left. Take the first right (road towards cave). The guesthouse is a few minutes walk on the left.), ☏ . A simple but clean guesthouse with rooftop restaurant. Convenient for visiting Asura Cave.
- Neydo Hotel, Bhanjang Village (When travelling from Kathmandu, the monastery is on the left side of the road just before reaching Pharping.), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A guesthouse is in the compound of Neydo Tashi Choeling Monastery, a 30 to 40 minute walk to Pharping bazaar. The rooms are clean and quiet and perfect for a personal retreat. US$100 (single), US$110 (twin), including breakfast.