Gebchak Gonpa is situated at an altitude of 4,300m (14,110ft) in a remote valley of Nangchen, Qinghai, on the Tibetan Plateau. At a lower altitude from Gebchak Gonpa, across the Mekong River from the town centre of Nangchen prefecture, is the retreat hermitage called Dongtsang Ritro. Gebchak Wangdrak Rinpoche began establishing Dongtsang Ritro in 2012 and secured the land as a contemporary sacred site by building a magnificent Padmasambhava statue, which now overlooks the town with its protective gaze. Numerous retreat buildings – one with a small shrine hall – have already been built at Dongtsang Ritro. Presently Wangdrak Rinpoche is constructing a 3-year retreat centre as a training hub for nuns from Gebchak’s many branch nunneries across Eastern Tibet.
Dongtsang Ritro is infused with blessings. The 12th century yogi, Tishi Repa, had his hermitage on this exact spot. Tishi Repa was a disciple of Barompa Darma Wangchuk, who was a disciple of Gampopa. Rinpoche envisions Dongtsang Ritro as a place to preserve yogic practice in modern Nangchen, a region that has been historically known in Tibetan as “Gomdé” – the “Land of Meditators”. The hermitage presently has 12 nuns and monks in extended retreat.
Dongtsang Ritro also serves Gebchak nuns requiring a base near town for health or practical reasons, and laypersons with a strong wish to practice in intensive retreat. Every two years a group of Rinpoche’s Australian disciples visits Dongtsang Ritro in Nangchen for teachings and meditation on this sacred and significant retreat land. So far two such retreats have taken place and have been experiences of a lifetime for all who joined.