Spiritual quest is a way of life for Bhutanese. Pilgrimage constitutes a big chunk of travel.
While there are countless pilgrimage sites in the country, of late, Dra Karpo in Shaba, Paro has become a major attraction, especially among those living in the capital and Paro. It is about 15 minutes walk from the road that merges with the Paro-Thimphu highway.
It is said that a demon disappeared into a rock and Guru Rinpoche split the rock and subdued it. Thus the name Dra Karpo translating loosely into split rock.
Unlike Paro Taktshang, the more popular and exciting pilgrim site, Dra Karpo doesn’t have magnificent structures, manmade or natural. However, it is believed it has the power to bestow great merit to pilgrims and redeem one off of the most extreme of sins. One only has to circumambulate it, 108 times.
To go around the Dra Karpo it depends entirely on one’s stamina. Some take about an hour to make a round, while others can go around it four times in an hour.
While pilgrims living in Paro or Thimphu make the rounds over several weekends, some camp outside, or take shelter in the nearby nunnery, or village homes.
Besides circumambulating, pilgrims also prostrate 108 times at Dra Karpo and visit nearby nyes (holy sites).
While the Paro-Thimphu highway has been seeing an increase in the number of commuters, Dra Karpo continues to have it’s aura of quiet and tranquility around it.