Rangtse/ Rongtse Ney


Rangtse/Rongtse Ney (Wylie. rang rtse gnas, Dzongkha. རང་རྩེ་གནས) is a sacred site located above the Amo chu river in Rangtse village, Gakiling Gewog under Haa Dzongkhag. Khandu (2021) mentions that Rongtse Ney is considered as one of the holiest and most sacred places not only because Guru Rinpoche sanctified the site but also the 69th Je Khenpo of Bhutan, Gedun Rinchen in his book titled, ‘Lhodruk Choejung’ (p.150) stated that Sangbay Ney and Rinchen Shong are regarded as a great sacred places.

To reach the Ney, one has to travel from the Haa Dzongkhag Administration to the south for about 55 km towards the Sangbey-Gakiling tri-junction. From the tri-junction, one has to take the left road and after a few kilometres drive, there is a Bailey suspension bridge. One has to cross the bridge and drive on the road leading to Rangtse Ney as there are other divergences on the way. After driving for about a few kilometre, one will meet a junction, one leading to the Ney on the left side and the other to the Rangtse village on the right side. After taking the left, one has to drive another few kilometres until one reaches the common parking lot. From the parking lot, one has to walk on the undulate path for 20-30 minutes while crossing the river Chieuchu to reach the Ney.


Khandu (2021, p. 17-18) mentions that the name ‘Rongtse Ney’ was derived from the prophecy of Guru Rinpoche:

གནས་དེར་ཕྱིན་པ་ཙམ་གྱིས་ལམ་སྣ་ཟིན༔ ང་ཡི་རྗེས་འཇུག་ཆོས་བྱེད་གང་ཟག་རྣམས༔ ལྷོ་རོང་སྦས་པའི་ཡུལ་དུ་བྲོས་ཤིག་དང་༔

ལྷོ་རོང་ལྷོ་སྒོར་བས་མཐའ་བསྟི་གནས་འཚོལ༔ དེ་ལྟར་བྱས་ན་བོད་དུ་མི་ལོ་བདུན༔ བསྒོམས་ལས་གནས་དེར་ཞག་བདུན་སྒྲུབ་ཐག་ཉེ༔



The English translated version of the prophecy is;


The way to realization is paved,

Once one visits the sacred place,

O’ my faithful devotees,

Go to the sacred place in the south, and also,

Go and search for Lho-rong;

You will attain realization in seven days,

Then meditating seven years in Tibet


According to Wangdi and Ling (2008), Rangtse Ney, also known as Sangbe Rinchenling, is a sacred place of Guru Rinpoche. In the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche came to Monyul[1] (Wylie. mon yul. Dzongkha. མོན་ཡུལ) and subdued demons and other evil spirits, and hid many religious treasures on the site to bless the sentient beings, which make Rangtse Ney one of the most sacred sites in the world (Wangchuk, 2016). In the 8th century, Khandro Yeshey Tshogyal[2] is said to have first accompanied Guru Rinpoche to the sacred place and it is evident from the presence of Khandro’s meditation cave (Khandu, 2021). In an article by Tshewang (2001), when Guru Rinpoche was performing the 5th series of Avalokitesvara’s abhiseka[3] at the cave of Gyon-yul-pal, the local deity Chungdu accompanied by many evil deities, created miraculous disasters to obstruct the abhiseka; and in response, Guru Rinpoche brandished the golden Vajra in space, at which all the evil spirits fell unconscious. When Chungdu became conscious, he pledged to be Guru’s subject and dedicated to his service. Guru Rinpoche accepted the offer and gave his blessings to Chungdu. Ap Chungdu is the local deity of the Haa district; hence, it is evident that Guru Rinpoche and Ap Chungdu had encountered in the Haa region sometime in the 8th or the beginning of the 9th century.

There is a village called Rangtse, which is located on the top of the site. As per the oral accounts, the Rangtse village derives its name from the sacred site due to being located on its peak (Wangchuk, 2016). The sacred site is also known as Sangbay Ney (Wylie. gsang sbas gnas. Dzongkha. གསང་སྦས་གནས) which literarily translates as ‘the site which is concealed’, and sometimes, it is also called as Mochu Ney as it is located near the river – Amo Chu.

According to Wangchuk (2016) and Khandu (2021), local saying narrates this as follows;







The English translation reads;


Beneath the hidden sacred place of Sangbay

There will be a small human population naturally settled

The people there will not rise as high as the sky

And the children would never die out of starvation

In the future, the human race will spread from here


Rangtse Ney is considered an abode of Guru Rinpoche as well as a hell. There is a local belief among some of the elders of the Rangtse village to consider the sacred site as an abode of Guru Rinpoche.

Khandu (2021) mentions that:

The reason they consider it as an abode of Guru Rinpoche is because of the three caves; land cave, sky cave, and mountain cave[4]. When we look up, we can see as if it is in the sky. When we view from the top, we see as if it is placed on the earth and when we look from the side, it seems as if it is clinging onto the tip of the cliff. Thus, the elders say the placement between these three caves is considered as abode of Guru Rinpoche. (p.29)


While it is understandable to consider a sacred site as heaven, it was confusing why a holy site such as Rangtse Ney would be considered a hell. The locals had their justification to consider it as such.

Khandu (2021) states that:

Secondly, the sacred place is also called hell because no matter how big the river becomes in summer, the winter dries it up completely and the sentient beings in that place suffer from immense hunger and thirst. Thus, it is called the hell of heat and cold. (p. 21)


Wangdi and Ling (2008) and Khandu (2021) mentions some prominent figures who had or are said to have visited Rongtse Ney.

  • Guru Rinpoche and Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal visited and blessed the sacred site in the 8th or the beginning of the 9th
  • Terton Sherab Mebar (1267 – 1326) and his attendants were travelling through the site when their journey was obstructed by the river. The Terton then transformed himself into a frog, drank river, and got across to the sacred site. At the same time, his attendants were unaware of his miracles, and while they were searching for him, the Terton was later found in the cave seated in the cross-vajra legged position.
  • In 1930, Late Dasho Yab Ugyen Dorji (1925 – 2019), the maternal grandfather of His Majesty the King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, lived in Rangtse Ney for 7 days.
  • In 1940 or 1941, a Lama[5] named Bata also known as Maniwa from Dagana came to Rangtse village to conduct rituals for the deceased. The Lama noticed the sacred place and was amazed by its uniqueness. He along with 13 people visited the sacred site and observed many sacred naturally appearing symbols of Guru Rinpoche, Khandro and other religious objects. He offered his deeply heartfelt prayers.
  • One Geshe[6] named Kuenga Rinchen who hailed from Haa Sama stayed in the sacred place and performed a weeklong ritual. Geshe Kuenga Rinchen has said that because of the sacredness of the place, it was equivalent to the notable Dorji Dhen (Bodh Gaya[7]), Tsari-tsekor[8] in Tibet and the sacred places of Drakar Tashi Ding[9]. The Geshe is said to have visited after Lama
  • An unidentified Tibetan spiritual master had visited the site, and said, “Bhutan has the dwelling place of the Tibetan Tsari-tsekor, this place seems to be the one”. He had great faith and respect for the sacred place he even took an oath to stop smoking. He is said to have spent five nights before returning to Tibet.
  • One Geshe Doti from Haa Damchu visited the place and proclaimed that if Bhutanese do not have faith and respect this sacred place, it would signify that Bhutanese are deprived of merit and virtue.
  • Other scholars and eminent masters like Lam Maniwaa, Lopen Sangay, Lam Barawa, Sangbay Lam Tshering Ngoedrup and Taktshang Lam Ngawang Tenzin also visited the sacred site (Wangdi & Ling, 2008).
  • In 2006, Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck visited Rangtse Ney during her visit to Samtse Dzongkhag.
  • In 2009, Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Sangay Choden Wangchuck and former health minister, Sangay Ngedup visited the sacred place.
  • On 23rd December 2017, His Majesty the King visited Sangbaykha and Gakidling gewogs after the 110th National Day celebration in Haa His Majesty the King along with the former Prime Minister, Dasho Tshering Tobgay, officially inaugurated the Rangtse Ney and the Tshechu[10] in the place.
  • From the 8th to the 11th of January 2018, His Eminence, the former venerable Tsugla Lopen[11] Samten Dorji visited the sacred place. His Eminence conducted fire offerings and blessings to the public of Rangtse village with Amitayus empowerment of longevity.


External View of the Ney

Before one reaches the Ney, one can see a Bodhi tree (Wyle. byang chub shing. Dzongkha. བྱང་ཆུབ་ཤིང་) which is believed by the villagers to be a wish-fulfilling tree similar to that of Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya. There is also a small house just below the Ney that is used during the annual Rangtse Ney tshechu.

Once reaching near the Ney, one has to follow the steps. There are two entrances – the Guru Drubphug (Wylie. gu ru’i sgrub phug. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་སྒྲུབ་ཕུག) and Khandro Drubphug (Wyle. mkha’ ‘gro’i sgrub phug. Dzongkha. མཁའ་འགྲོའི་སྒྲུབ་ཕུག), which are the meditative caves of Guru Rinpoche and Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal. First, we see the Khandro Drubphug and a few steps up, one can see the Guru Drubphug. The Guru Drubphug is the main entrance through which one can discover a series of entrances. As one simultaneously procceed further into the sacred site, the entrances gradually shrink and most people give up on the fifth entrance (Mindu, personal communication, April 12, 2022).

When one looks at the entrance of Guru Drubphug, one can see rock conglomeration in the form of two folded dragons on the left and right sides of the entrance. The local has a belief that those fortunate visitors would be able to witness Guru Rinpoche in the form of Vajrapani from the outer view of the entrance. While religious or spiritual interpretations may differ from geological interpretations, nevertheless when one has to make a scientific observation, the sacred site is a limestone cave in which various relics or treasures are found in the different forms and sizes of dripstones and rock conglomerations.

Wangchuk (2016) and Khandu (2021) have mentioned six series of entrances within the sacred site.

First Entrance (གནས་སྒོ་དང་པ)

As one enters the Guru Drubphug, on the right side of the cave, one can see the Guru’s secret Vajra (Wylie. gu ru’i gsang ba’i rdo rje. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་གསང་བའི་རྡོ་རྗེ). It is believed that the secret Vajra grants the blessing to those couples who desire a son. On the left, one can see Khandro’s throne, and Gomzha (Wylie. sgom zhwa. Dzongkha. སྒོམ་ཞྭ) or meditation hat. As one goes further, one can see the Guru’s sacred Vajra, Dakini’s womb or Khandro’s Bhaga (Wylie. mkha’ ‘gro’i bha ga. Dzongkha. མཁའ་འགྲོའི་བྷ་ག). Khandu (2021) remarks that the Guru’s secret Vajra and Khandro’s Bhaga were displayed as natural treasures for the future of their disciples and to cleanse the defilements of marriage and karmic retribution for our deeds.


Second Entrance (གནས་སྒོ་གཉིས་པ)

When one enters the second entrance, one can see Khandro’s Bhaga. Some believe that If a couple prays for a daughter, the Bhaga grants and blesses a couple with a daughter.

One can also see the demoness’ ribs and heart (Wylie. bdud mo’i rtsib sgro dang don hing. Dzongkha. བདུད་མོའི་རྩིབ་སྒྲོ་དང་དོན་ཧིང་). Guru Rinpoche is said to have subdued the demoness in the West and concealed it here as treasure. This section of treasure is also called the ‘sacred place of the demon’s heart’ (སྲིན་པའི་དོན་ཧིང་གི་གནས) by some of the villagers.

As we go further, there is a ‘key’ to the sacred site (Wylie. gnas kyi lde mig. Dzongkha. གནས་ཀྱི་ལྡེ་མིག), traces master’s lake or Latsho (Wylie. bla mtsho’i shul. Dzongkha. བླ་མཚོའི་ཤུལ) and male and female conches of four directions or Chogzhi Gi Dungkar Pho Mo (Wylie. phyogs bzhi gi dung dkar pho mo. Dzongkha. ཕྱོགས་བཞི་གི་དུང་དཀར་ཕོ་མོ).


Third Entrance (གནས་སྒོ་གསུམ་པ)

As one enters the third entrance, one can see Guru’s boot or Gurui Zhablham (Wylie. gu ru’i zhabs lham. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་ཞབས་ལྷམ), Guru’s footprint or Gurui Zhabjey (Wylie. gu ru’i zhabs rjes. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་ཞབས་རྗེས), a sacred rock to confess one’s evil deeds or Digpa Shagni Neydo (Wylie. sdig pa bshags ni’i gnas rdo. Dzongkha. སྡིག་པ་བཤགས་ནིའི་གནས་རྡོ), wall painting of a temple or Lhakhang Nang Yodpai Daebri (Wylie. lha khang yod pa’i ldebs ris. Dzongkha. ལྷ་ཁང་ནང་ཡོད་པའི་ལྡེབས་རིས), a principal golden pillar or Sergi Kachen (Wylie. gser gyi ka chen. Dzongkha. གསེར་གྱི་ཀ་ཆེན) and statues of thousand Buddha or Sangay Tongku (Wylie. sangs rgyas stong sku. Dzongkha. སངས་རྒྱས་སྟོང་སྐུ).

Khandu (2021) states that some elderly villagers narrate about Guru Rinpoche keeping the sacred rock in this part of the sacred site with prayers and aspirations for the benefit of human beings, and to purify their demerits.


Fourth Entrance (གནས་སྒོ་བཞི་པ)

When one enters the fourth entrance, one can see a treasury stone pillar or Tergi Doring (Wylie. gter gyi rdo ring. Dzongkha. གཏེར་གྱི་རྡོ་རིང་), demoness’ heart or Dudmoi Donhing (Wylie. bdud mo’i don hing. Dzongkha. བདུད་མོའི་དོན་ཧིང་), a sacred [right] eye of Guru Rinpoche or Gurui Chen (Wylie. gu ru’i spyan. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་སྤྱན), a saddle of Guru’s horse or Gurui Chib Ga (Wylie. gu ru’i chibs sga. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་ཆིབས་སྒ) and different religious figurines.


Fifth Entrance (གནས་སྒོ་ལྔ་པ)

The fifth entry is considered the meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche (Wylie. gu ru’i sgrub khang. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་སྒྲུབ་ཁང་). One can see the sacred deposits that resemble an assembly of deities of Guru Rinpoche or Gurui Lhatshog (Wylie. gu ru’i lha tshogs. Dzongkha. གུ་རུའི་ལྷ་ཚོགས) and a small aperture or hollow space where one can meditate.


Sixth Entrance (གནས་སྒོ་དྲུག་པ)

Wangchuk (2006), Khandu (2021) and Mindu (personal communication, April 12, 2022) mention that the sixth entrance is a narrow passage whereby most visitors give up and return from the fifth entrance. While most visitors give up going through this entrance, there is an exit if one can pass through the entrance. The sources do not mention any religious relic found in this section of the entrance.

The Sacred Meditation Cave of Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal (མཁའ་འགྲོའི་སྒྲུབ་ཕུག)

This sacred site is located en route to the Gurui Drubphug. When one enters the cave, the visible sights are the naturally formed breasts of Khandro (Wylie. mkha’ ‘gro’i ‘o ma. Dzongkha. མཁའ་འགྲོའི་འོ་མ) which is in a geological term, stalactites. As one goes further inside the cave, one can see the throne of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig Ki Zhungthri (Wylie. spyan ras gzigs kyi bzhugs khri. Dzongkha. སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་ཀྱི་བཞུགས་ཁྲི), Khandro’s meditation hall (Wylie. mkha’ ‘gro’i sgrub khang. Dzongkha. མཁའ་འགྲོའི་སྒྲུབ་ཁང་), Khandro’s hat (Wylie. mkha’ ‘gro’i dbu zhwa. Dzongkha. མཁའ་འགྲོའི་སྒྲདབུ་ཞྭ), volumes of religious scriptures or Choegi Lekbam (Wylie. chos kyi glegs bam. Dzongkha. ཆོས་ཀྱི་གླེགས་བམ), skull or kapala (Wylie. dbu thod. Dzongkha. དབུ་ཐོད), a tooth (Wylie. tshems. Dzongkha. ཚེམས) and the hats of five Buddhas or Gyalwai Rignga Gi Uzha (Wylie. rgyal ba rigs lnga’i dbu zhwa. Dzongkha. རྒྱལ་བ་རིགས་ལྔའི་དབུ་ཞྭ).


The Scared site of the Assembly of Kila deities or Phurpai Lhatshog (ཕུར་པའི་ལྷ་ཚོགས)

When one passes by the Khandroi Drubphug and Gurui Drubphug and climbs up for a couple of minutes, one can see the sacred site of Phurpai Lhatshog (Wylie. phur pa’i lha tshogs. Dzongkha. ཕུར་པའི་ལྷ་ཚོགས). The assembly of Kilas are found in the forms of trees and rocks, along with a Khadroi Bhaga. There is a tree or Jongshing (Wylie. ljon shing. Dzongkha. ལྗོན་ཤིང་) which portrays the 108 Kilas. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche meditated on the deities of Kilas and transformed the trees and rocks into Kila representations (Khandu, 2021, p. 46).


The Sacred Site of Vajravarahi or Dorji Phagmoi Ney

One astonishing site found in Rangtse village is the Rongtse Dorji Phagmoi Ney, which is about an hour’s drive from Rongtse School towards Ta-nga village (Wylie. rta nga g.yus tshan. Dzongkha. རྟ་ང་གཡུས་ཚན), which is located in the south-west of Rangtse village. Khandu (2021), states that as per Lho-Druk-Choejung (2008, p. 150), the site was mentioned only as Rinchen Shong, not as Dorji Phagmo’s sacred place. Nevertheless, the sacred site is considered no different from the Dorji Phagmo’s site in Tibet.

Vajravarahi or Dorji Phagmo (Wylie. rdo rje phag mo. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕག་མོ) is considered as the consort of Chakrasamvara or Khorlo Dechog (Wylie. ‘khor lo bde mchog. Dzongkha. འཁོར་ལོ་བདེ་མཆོག) who is a wrathful deity who is usually depicted as blue colour, with four faces and twelve arms, and in union with his consort Vajravarahi (Chakrasamvara – Rigpa Wiki, 2019).

One can see the natural rock formations of the Dragon (Wylie. rdo rang byung gi ‘brug chen. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རང་བྱུང་གི་འབྲུག་ཆེན), an elephant’s trunk (Wylie. rdo rang byung gi glangamo che. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རང་བྱུང་གི་གླངམོ་ཆེ), conch (Wylie. rdo rang byung gi dung dkar. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རང་བྱུང་གི་དུང་དཀར), ritual cakes (Wylie. rdo rang byung gi tshe gtor. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རང་བྱུང་གི་ཚེ་གཏོར), vessels of water offerings (Wylie. rdo rang byung gi mchod ting. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རང་བྱུང་གི་མཆོད་ཏིང་), Vajravarahi’s womb or Dorji Phagmoi Bhaga (Wylie. rdo rje phag mo’i bha ga. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕག་མོའི་བྷ་ག), Dakini’s nipples or Dodjoi Numa (Wylie. ‘dod ‘jo ba’i nu ma. Dzongkha. འདོད་འཇོ་བའི་ནུ་མ), rock image of Vajravarahi (Wylie. rdo rje phag mo’i gzugs brnyan. Dzongkha. རྡོ་རྗེ་ཕག་མོའི་གཟུགས་བརྙན), a naturally formed and concealed lake (Wylie. g.yib mtsho. Dzongkha. གཡིབ་མཚོ) and other naturally formed figurines.

Social and Cultural Activities

According to Mindu (personal communication, April 12, 2022), after His Majesty the King visited the Sangbaykha and Gakiling gewogs and graced the inauguration of the Rongtse Ney on the 23rd of December 2017, an annual tshechu is organized which includes mask dances and traditional songs.



Mindu, villager, Rangtse village, Gakiling gewog, Ha Dzongkhag


Ngawang Gyeltshen, Associate Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Trongsa





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Wangdi, P., & Ling, M. (2008). Seeds of faith. Macmillan Publishers.


[1] It refers to a region or country which include includes Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal but particularly between Kosi and Teesta rivers: name connotes hunter non-Buddhist tribes

[2] She is considered to be one of the principal consorts and also among the 25 disciples of Guru Rinpoche. For more information, visit https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Yeshe-Tsogyel/TBRC_P7695

[3] It means “bathing of the divinity to whom worship is offered” Or granting an empowerment

[4] Sa-drak (ས་བྲག), Nam-drak (གནམ་བྲག), and Ri-drak (རི་བྲག)

[5] It means master, spiritual preceptor, mentor or ‘master even higher than one’s mother’

[6] It means ‘virtous friend’ who who has mastered metaphysics and important branches of sacred literature, or person who leads a pure life and is possessed of learning

[7] Bodh Gaya also spelled Buddh Gaya, a town, southwestern Bihar state, northeastern India. This is the site where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

[8] Known as the Immaculate Crystal Mountain of Tsari, was visited by Guru Rinpoche and meditated for 7 years, 7 months and 7 days, hence making it one of the most sacred sites in Buddhism.

[9] It is the most sacred place in Sikkim, visited by Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, and in the 14th century by the Terton Rigdzin Godem (1337-1408), who established a monastery there.

[10] It is the 10th day of traditional Bhutanese and Tibetan month. On this day which corresponds with the auspicious day of Guru Rinpoche, religious festivals in temples and monasteries are celebrated across Bhutan.

[11] It means the ‘master of monastery or university’. There are five masters or ‘Lopen Lhengye’ in Central Monastic Body who assists the Je Khenpo of Bhutan. Each of the Lopen Lhengye is in charge of one of five areas: religious tradition, ritual services, social services, institutions for education, and administration & finance.