Koras of Dra Karp
ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་ པདྨེ ་ཧཱུྃ། Om Ah Hung!
As the year draws to a close I have been ruminating on some moments that I had experienced this year. Among the many off-the-grid forays I made this year, a circumambulation of a holy hill stands out, this is due to the deep veneration that we have for that sacred site and also due to the fact that the 108 Koras (rounds) had been on my wish list for far too long.
On June 15 we began our quest to awaken the mind, purify negativities, renew spirituality, restore energy, connect with the higher powers, revitalise inner peace, accrue positive merits and feed our soul with peace. Two of my closest friends who are also part of the Bhutan Scenic Tour team, Rinzin and Tandin, joined in as this was something the three of us talked about for a long time. We followed the footsteps of the enlightened masters and completed our 108 Koras (circumambulation/parikrama) of the "Nyechen Dra Karp" coinciding with the supremely auspicious birth anniversary of our patron saint, Guru Rinpoche.
Over the course of 3 days we walked for 22 hours, covered a distance of 68kms, chanted guru mantras along the way and prostrated in front of the sacred cliff.
The Dra Karp is among the holiest of power spots connected with the precious master Guru Rinpoche. It is said that upon gurus arrival at the cliff in the 7th century he dug out a portion of the rock face to form a cave, the removed bit of the rock was then attached to the cliff and hence the origin of the name Dra Karp meaning the "cut cliff".
Khandro Yeshey Tshogyal, Machig Lhabdron, Namkhai Nyingpo, Drupthob Thangthong Gyalpo, Lam Drukpa Kinley, Phajo Drukpam Zhingpo, Vairochana and many eminent luminaries from the buddhist pantheon of saints had also meditated at Dra Karp. Legend also has it that a thousand dakini's (celestial beings) had descended to the cliff and many petrified relics such as food offerings, footprints, imprints and other traces of the celestial visit are still visible to this day.
We also met many pilgrims from near and far who had come for the koras who like us began each day at the crack of dawn amid the fluttering of the prayer flags, the wispy mist shrouding over the valley and who also basked in the golden glow emanating from the sunrise each morning. The trail would resonate softly with the footsteps of the devout pilgrims who were all fuelled by the murmurs of mantras and the strength of their minds and bodies.
Auspiciously the final leg of our kora coincided with the unfurling of the Guru Thongdrel, a giant applique scroll, which further elevated our spirits and reaffirmed our belief in the higher powers. This pilgrimage was certainly a journey the three of us will remember for a long time.
I am reminded of a quotation by Theodore Roethke, "Over every mountain is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley".
ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་ པདྨེ ་ཧཱུྃ།