Singye Dzong – The mystical Lion Fortress
The soul becomes the sky; pure, untrained, an authentic space. Free from the manacles of preconception, unbound by the limitless, experiencing and ultimate field of possibilities; the significance of the journey into Bhutan’s mystical lion fortress, Singye Dzong, is an experience of a life time.
Hidden in the land of perfection is the incomparable Singye Dzong. As one would find out on arrival, it is no manmade monument like most Dzongs but a unique geological formation of mountain resembling a sleeping lion.
In the distance, small streams coil down from the mountains and the ancient temples dot the landscape, the only evidence of human habitation.
Located at an altitude of more than 3000 meters above sea level, it’s a three day rigorous walk from the road point in Khoma village. Singye Dzong is situated in the northern part of Lhuentse, a district in eastern Bhutan.
The mythical and historical significance
According to legends, sometime in the mid-8th century, Guru Rinpoche attempted to suppress a demon King, Khikharathoed, who was exiled from Tibet. It is said that the king escaped the wrath of the Guru and moved to Khempajong, where he supposedly established his demon Kingdom.
After subduing the demon king in Khempajong, Guru moved to Singye Dzong to meditate.
It is also believed that a treasure of religious scripture containing the means to prolong life called the Tse Drup Chimi Sogthig was discovered by the 19th century treasure discover, Zilnon Namkha Dorji.
Singye Dzong today is an internal division of eight Dzongs, Singye Dzong being the main sacred place where Guru is said to have meditated. The other Dzongs are Rinchen Dzong, Tsemo Dzong, Gawa Dzong, Dulwa Dzong, Namkha Dzong, Drakri Dzong and Pema Dzong.
Pilgrimage starts with Gawa Dzong with its magnificent statue of Guru. This Dzong houses the biggest Monastery. It holds in it the treasure revealed by Guru himself from the lake in Singye Dzong. It is said Guru subdued the demon of the lake and the local deity, and revealed five religious daggers (Phurba).
Among the five daggers, one has a missing part. Legend has it that there will come a time when the lake is going to form again and daggers will then be submerged. It is said that Guru would come once again to reveal the daggers, only this time, the daggers will not have any missing components and will be complete.
From Gawa Dzong, the tour continues to climb a rock where Guru is said to have meditated. Five celestial dakinis were said to have appeared and offered Guru holy water. The celestial sisters can be seen today as the five trees that dominate the surrounding landscape. It is believed that one must offer a song to each of the five celestials.
At Dorji Dzong, a huge stone in the shape of a frog can be seen on the cliff. It is said that the Guru saw a frog climbing up the cliffs with the intent of plundering a beehive. The Guru divined this to be a bad omen for the world and subdued the frog, preventing all frogs thereafter from ever climbing a cliff or a tree.
In the main Singye Dzong tour, three kinds of holy water whose sources are credited to the Guru and his two consorts, Khandro Yeshey Tshogyel and Khandro Mendharawa can be seen. An imprint of Khando Yeshey Tshogyal’s back on the rock can also be seen, it is said fervent pilgrims can sometimes make holy water ooze from the bare rock.
At another rock, with interesting black and white striations, is the place where the Guru has imprisoned 108 mythical garudas, who could have wreaked havoc in the world.
On the other side of Singye Dzong is Rolmateng, the summer home for the nomadic yak herders. There, one can see a big flat rock resembling a pair of cymbals, where all animals were said to have gathered to receive religious teachings from Guru. It is also known as the Do Chen Aar Mo Lay Gen Semchen Natshog Choe Nangsa.
Close to the rock is another rock which is said to have been used as an extension to fit in more animals. Different animal’s footprints can be seen on both the rocks.
At the Guru Thrue Gi Zingbu, a place where one marks his/her place in heaven, visitors normally perform the Lugar Choetpa, a religious dance.