Chim-puk Hermitage is a warren of caves northeast of Samye that was once a meditation retreat for Gulug Rinpoche. After crossing through desert-like territory for a couple of hours, the path ascends into the surprisingly lush area in which the caves are found. It's an ideal route for day hike. It is said that there are 108 meditation caves, 108 spring mouths and 108 sky burial grounds. This is no doubt a popular day hike for travellers spending a few days at Samye. Were you lucky enough, you might find a pilgrim truck heading up there in the early morning. You could also hire a tractor in Samye. Ask at the reception of the Monastery Guesthouse. Otherwise the walk takes around four or five hours up and three hours down. Take plenty of water.
Embraced by lush hills on 3 sides and facing the broad Yarlung Tsangbo Valley, the Chim-puk Hermitage is renowned not only for being the most famous meditation place of Tibetan Buddhism, but also for its unique humane climate and beautiful scenery presented at an altitude of 4,300m.
Numerous small retreat caves and hermitages are located on the hills, among which those once inhabited by Padmasambhava (known as Gulug Rinpoche to Tibetans), Yeshe Tsogyal (student of Padmasambhava) and Trisong Detsen (742-798, the 5th Tibetan king) are the most prestigious. Handprints and footprints impressed on rocks can be found everywhere, and the enormous footprint on the Guruta Rock is said to have been left by Padmasambhava.
Currently, the caves are inhabited by over 200 Buddhists, 70% of whom are nuns. Leading a simple life which might be unbearable for the commoners, these dedicated Buddhists believe that the Chim-puk Hermitage-- the place in which Padmasambhava meditated and taught Dharma to his disciples-- will bring them more spiritual achievements in meditation.