Phajoding Hike – Thimphu
Phajoding Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan. Phajoding Monastery is a 3-hour hike from the nearest road and is located above Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. It was once one of the richest and most decorated monasteries in the country however due to years of neglect and the encroachment of development, it was watchlisted in 2010 by the World Monuments Fund as one of five endangered cultural monuments that need the most help in the world.
The Phajoding monastery site was founded in the 13th Century by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo (1184-1251), the Tibetan lama who spread the Drukpa Kagyu teachings of Buddhism in Bhutan and known as the ‘current of compassion’. It is one of the most sacred meditational sites in Bhutan. Most of the buildings at Phajoding however were constructed in 1748 by Gyelwa Shakya Rinchen (1710-1759), the 9th Je Khenpo who is considered to be the reincarnation of Rechungpa, the heart disciple of Milarepa. His reincarnation is currently studying at the Nalanda Buddhist Institute in Punakha in central Bhutan.
The Phajoding monastery has a devoted community of over 80 young, impoverished monks who faithfully carry on the spiritual traditions set down by the founder of this sacred site, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo. It also serves as a refuge for disadvantaged boys.
Over a half of these young monks do not receive the minimal Government stipend and coupled with the many more young boys from poor rural families wishing to join the Phajoding Monastic community, the monastery is unable to provide for their basic needs. Due to the limits on Government funding, it is impossible to increase Phajoding’s capacity to care for more disadvantaged young boys without external sponsorship.