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. Two buildings – one with a small shrine hall – have already been built at Dongtsang Ritro. Over the next few years Wangdrak Rinpoche aspires to build ten more small retreat huts, to house up to 20 long-term meditators.
Dongtsang Ritro is infused with blessings. It is said that the 12th century yogi, Tishi Repa Sherab Sengge, had his hermitage on this exact spot. Tishi Repa was a disciple of Barompa Darma Wangchuk, who was a disciple of Gampopa. Presently the hermitage has two monks in extended retreat. Rinpoche envisions Dongtsang Ritro as a place to preserve yogic practice in Nangchen, a region that has been historically known in Tibetan as “Gomde” – the “Land of Meditators”.
The land will serve as home for older Gebchak nuns requiring a base near town for health or practical reasons, as well as for ordained and laypersons with a strong wish to practice in intensive retreat. There is the potential for a group of Rinpoche’s Australian disciples to visit once every year or two for teachings and retreat on this sacred and significant retreat land. More information on this will be circulated as details are clarified.
Last year sixteen of Rinpoche’s Australian students travelled to Nangchen for their first retreat at Dongtsang Ritro. They all found it to be a profound experience and spoke of the work and effort Rinpoche had made for their accommodation – Wangdrak Rinpoche had already built six log retreat huts in addition to the two other buildings. The students were also extremely appreciative of Rinpoche’s teachings and the wonderful translation from Ani Chozom.