Khandro Thrinlay Chodon
Khachodling The Vision and Projects of Khandro Thrinlay Chodon
Khachodling Projects
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himalayan hermitages

Apho Rinpoche hermitage


Himalayan Hermitages for Women
Khandro-la's family has long and strong historical connections with the Himalayan regions. From the Indian Himalayas and Bhutan people travelled on foot to Tibet to study with her great-grandfather, the renowned Togden Shakya Shri in the late 1800's. These disciples later returned to their homelands bringing the gift of dharma to lay communities.

Khandro-la’s respected father Apho Rinpoche lived in the Indian Himalayas. With complete dedication he served these remote peoples. He and his wife, together with entourage, tirelessly travelled on foot and horseback over rough terrain and high passes, carrying the babies on their back. Each of his children were born in a different area of the Indian Himalayas. In this way the Shakya Shri lineage once again revived the devotion and practice of lay peoples and yogis alike. Apho Rinpoche established retreat centers in these often poor high remote areas. In these hermitages yogis unwaveringly practice the teachings of “The Six Yogas of Naropa” and Milarepa. They attained high levels of realization and even to this day the monks practice ‘tummo’ also known as “psychic heat”. The test of this practice is to sleep in the snow and dry wet sheets with their warm bodies. At the request of H.H the Dalai Lama, Harvard Medical School in 1985 sent scientific researchers to test Apho Rinpoche’s yogic students and found astounding results of being able to control body temperature at altitudes of 15, 000ft. This was the first research of its kind and nowadays there is much other research going on between practitioners and western scientists that focus’ on the benefits of Buddhist practices.

Apho Rinpoche’s yogic hermitages still exist to this day as a beacon of yogic practice. Khandro-la, being a female holder of this lineage is responsible to particularly support the women practitioners who choose to pursue the profound path of the yogini. Khandro-la has therefore been working hard to support and train these female practitioners who have often been neglected in a more male dominated culture. This is a very important role, which she now actively pursues.

Tibetan Buddhism

khandro-la with nuns

nun in hermitage


Since her youth nuns have looked to Khandro-la for guidance and support. She has responded in whatever way she could at the time. While at University in the US she raised small funds from selling local items  and was able to offer financial as well as spiritual support for their retreat. The people of these areas today are deeply in need of teachings, practice and welfare support. Due to modernisation their culture is vulnerable to extinction and they have very poor living conditions. Khandro-la feels strongly connected to these people and is deeply committed to helping strengthen their devotion, spiritual practice and living conditions.

In 2004 when Khandro-la did pilgrimage and retreat in Gotsang, Ladakh after her beloved husbands passing, some older nuns from Zanskar officially pleaded with Khandro-la to lead them and establish a retreat centre in their region. This is how the first Khachodling hermitage for women in the Himalayas took root.

Khandro-la follows her father’s and her great grandfather Shakya Shri’s footsteps. Each lived the pure yogic life of simplicity. Her focus is therefore on eco-friendly, low-key, aesthetic communities that purely hold the yogic tradition. Her vision is to build a strong spiritual community that becomes like the root of a tree, supporting and nourishing the spiritual and everyday life of the entire lay and monastic community. (See also self sustainable projects)

The hermitage in Sani, Zanskar has 21 devoted nuns in training and now in Pangi, another remote Himalayan area where her father taught, land is being offered for a hermitage for women. Khachodling also actively still supports the many nuns, monks and yogis in all parts of the Himalayas who have kept the lineage alive, many of whom even carried Khandro-la on their backs when she was a baby. 

The ongoing wisdom, strength and love necessary for all Khachodling activities is sustained through the root of spiritual practice - whether in the remote Himalayas or in the chaotic western life. Keeping this root alive is therefore essential.

Tibetan Buddhism
      "Dharma Friend" - $1/day to support the living expenses of spiritual practitioners in the Himalayas. Please click here  
Tibetan Buddhism

khandro-la with nuns

winter hermitage

Sani Valley


Khachodling Nunnery - Zanskar
Zanskar is renowned for its spectacular landscape - it is a high mountainous plateau at the roof of the world. From Leh, Ladakh it takes some 30 hours over high mountain passes to reach this landlocked beautiful region. Zanskar is also known for its pilgrimage sites. Great masters and yogis of the past have spent years there, deepening their spiritual essence and attaining unsurpassable qualities.

Sani is the ancient pilgrimage site of the great siddha Naropa, who meditated many years under the Kanishka stupa. A bronze statue now marks this blessed place and is unveiled each year in the Naro Nasjal Festival. The unsurpassable Guru Padmasambhava also meditated on charnel grounds in Sani for many years. The nunnery land is very close to these blessed charnel grounds. On the hill opposite the nunnery there is a high cave where guru Nyima Ozer meditated.

Khachodling nunnery lies on the high hillsides overlooking this very holy valley of Sani which is just 6 kms from Padum the main township of Zanskar. Overlooking the site is a jagged mountain peak that is said to be a female protector. The renowned yogi from Zanskar, Drubchen Ngawang Tsering, had a nunnery on this very Khachodling site in ancient times. On this land this great master attained Parinirvana, and his female students and nuns attained high realization. Some of them are said to have dissolved into rainbow body here. To this day you can see the statue of Drubchen Ngawang Tsering in the temple next to Khachodling nunnery.

In 2005 when Khandro-la first visited the nuns had already began building their own mud hut living quarters. This deeply touched Khandro-la's heart. Since that time Khachodling through Khandro-la's teachings has  been able to provide these devoted nuns a gompa from which they can gather to learn and practice. Now, once again, there is a nunnery flourishing on this site. 21 dedicated nuns call this simple hermitage home. To Khandro-la these 21 nuns symbolise the 21 Taras (the female essence of enlightenment).

At present the nuns are engaged, like our lineage ancestor Milarepa, in helping to build the nunnery as well as daily practice. The entire winter is covered with thick snow and so the nuns have this opportunity to engage in intensive solitary retreat, under the guidance of Lama Wangdu who has been appointed by Khandro-la as their teacher.

Of the 21 nuns, seven will undergo training in the traditional three years solitary retreat. In 2008 Khandro-la took Lama Rigdzin, a student of  her fathers, to Zanskar to begin their meditative training. Another seven will concentrate on learning traditional prayers and rituals from the elders so they can perform pujas for both the immediate community and the rest of the world. The remaining seven nuns will be trained in philosophy and to develop skills in incense making, carving and painting. There will be always a few nuns to take care of the grounds and buildings.

These nuns had nothing before, and these last years good musical instruments, dharma texts and puja items as well as a greenhouse, gompa, basic kitchen and utensils have all been provided. A 5 km road has been built and tree planting begun.

In the next few years there is a need to focus on building a fenced boundary, improved water provision to the entire site, harnessing solar energy and a generator for electricity, tree planting and pathways as well as providing more nuns quarters, a three year retreat facility and guest house cum retreat rooms for visitors. Climate and remoteness make building costs here higher than in other localities. For example wood and concrete has to be transported over the high passes.

Communal kitchen area rebuild - special urgent project of 2016/17
This year the Sani hermitage needs your help. The small kitchen has become all broken and needs urgent rebuilding to become also a larger communal kitchen and dining area with storage. Climate change has lead to snow falling that is now moist and heavy compared to the past when it was light. The traditional roofs of Zanskar are made only of straw and twigs and so our kitchen roof has, like many roofs in Zanskar, now collapsed! We need to urgently rebuild this facility so that there is a kitchen and dining area ready for the next winter period! Please read this article and find out more about the difficulty and how you can donate.

To learn more and to donate, please click here

  Tara Project  

The Tara Project - In addition to constructing two more levels over the gompa shrine room (a project for the future), funds are required soon to decorate the shrine room with statues, painting, carpets, puja tables, thangkas and so on. A detailed carved alter is to be completed by 2010 and it is proposed to house a central three foot Tara statue surrounded by 21 smaller Taras. Khandro-la's beloved master Imi Drupten 82, a renowned statue filler has agreed to fill and consecrate each of these with his own hands.

Download The Tara Brochure here (173KB.pdf).

  gyinar hermitage  

This area is very devoted to the Shakya Shri family lineage as it was one of the areas where Apho Rinpoche travelled. His son, Jampal, (Khandro-la's brother) was born there. Khandro-la had a sister who passed away in Pangi when still a baby. On the spot where she was cremated, a tent of rainbows appeared for a long time, and later a spring spontaneously arose. To this day locals sing songs in her praise. Pilgrims come from far away to this miraculous spring that is said to have healing powers. They bathe and drink the holy water.

Remote, with barely a road to travel, Pangi is very poor though the people happy and the valley beautiful, filled with wild grasses and herds of yak in summer. Khandro-la's brothers are very involved with this area and Khandro-la herself has Pangi monks at her home in Manali being educated in the lineage. In 2009 the Pangi locals requested Khandro-la to establish and guide a new hermitage for women. Discussions are underway for a site while women wait for her next visit.

  nun's circle  

Other Himalayan Areas
Khachodling supports the long-term practitioners of Shakya Sri's yogi lineage in the Himalayas who are getting older. They are deep in their practice but physically deteriorating. They are old established students of Gegen Khyentse (her Master), Apho Rinpoche (her father) and Kunga Rinpoche (direct student of Shakya Sri). Khandro-la wants to offer what she can to assist these practitioners pursue their dharma goals.

There are three localities where such yoginis and yogis are greatly helped by offerings - Mulbeck, Kardang, Tayul and Peukar. All are in the remote Indian Himalayas.

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