A distinct calmness pervades the area around the small, yellow-roofed temple called Gom Kora. Lush, emerald green rice fields spread out on every side and the river Kholongchu roars nearby.
Adjacent to the temple, pilgrims continuously circumambulate an enormous black rock. With rosaries in hand, they spin prayer wheels and chant as they circle the boulder, day in and day out. In this way, they generate positive merit for themselves and for all other sentient beings.
The temple’s full name, Gomphu Kora, comes from a meditation cave that Guru Rinpoche practiced in, called Gomphu. “Kora” means circumambulation.
Once upon a time, an evil spirit called Myongkhapa followed the Kholongchu river from Tibet and hid inside the rock next to Gom Kora. In order to conquer this evil spirit, Guru Rinpoche meditated in a small cave under the rock for three days.
Upon seeing the evil spirit in the form of a demonic cobra snake, Guru Rinpoche jumped in surprise and left an imprint of his pointed hat in the cave’s roof. He then transformed himself into a Garuda, a mythical humanoid bird. Today, one can see the imprints of his wings on the rock. In this form, Guru Rinpoche persuaded the evil spirit to leave him undisturbed in meditation. He sealed their agreement with the imprints of his thumbs in the stone.
On auspicious days, holy water flows out from a crack in the rock; pilgrims line up to fill water bottles. The water is believed to be the Guru's nectar of immortality.
Gom Kora, built by Mingyur Tenpa in the 17th century, contains several sacred objects. For example, housed inside is the hoof of Guru Rinpoche's horse and a large, perfectly round stone representing a Garuda egg. The temple also contains a phallus-shaped stone belonging to Pema Lingpa and the footprints of a dakini.
Every year on the 10th day of the second lunar month, a festival takes place at Gom Kora. Pilgrims circumambulate the temple and the rock throughout the night. The Dakpa tribe from Arunachal Pradesh in India travels for many days across mountains to participate in the festival, as they have for centuries.