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Lama Ananga Rika Govinda & His "Way of the white clouds"


Lama Ananga Rika Govinda is considered to be perhaps the most influential in introducing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. Lama Ananga Rika Govinda did not mind two weeks of journey on horse back through the most mountainous region of the world to visit The Great Hermit Abbot of Lachen.

Our effort is to take you to that particular Cave of Lachen Gomchen, which won’t be as strenuous as then.

He was born as Ernst Lothar Hoffman in Waldheim, Germany in 1898, son of a German father and a Bolvian mother. He was invalided out of German army during the first world war because of tuberclosis. He was the founder of the Buddhist Order Arya Maitreya Mandala. He came to India in his early years. His interest in Buddhism and monastic life led him to Sri lanka and Burma.

He had been to Tibet many times lived for two years in Central and Western Tibet with his wife Li Gotami, a British Educated Parsee from Bombay. In 1931 he attended a Buddhist Conference in Darjeeling intending to affirm the purity of the Theravadin tradition against the Mahayana, which in his view, had degenerated into “a system of demon worship and weird beliefs.” This trip to Darjeeling was to alter his life. Here he met his Tibetan Guru, Tomo Geshe Rinpoche, under whose influence he converted into Gelugpa sect. He finally settled in Almora, India. He held posts in various Indian universities and held exhibitions of his paintings, several of which he made together

with his wife still in Tibet. In 1971 he made a journey to America and Canada. In 1972 he was on tour in Europe. He became a mediator and peacemaker between East & West. Govinda’s Tibetan experiences are recounted in his book The Way of the White Clouds, which includes elements from several genre-spiritual journals, adventure narratives, anthropological field reports and philosophical commentaries. It is one of the century’s classic spiritual autobiographies. Lama Govinda’s final years were spent in California living in the San Francisco Bay area on Alan Watts’ houseboat, then in Mill valley. In San Francisco he established an American branch of the Arya Maitreya Mandala, called “Home of Dhyan”. He is considered to be perhaps the most influential in introducing Tibetan Buddhism to the West. He died in 1986. His ashes are contained in the Nirvana-Stupa, which was erected in 1997 on the premises of Samten Choeling Monastery (a Tibetan Monastery), in the district of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India.


An outstanding example among modern hermit is the hermit abbot of Lachen ‘better known as the Gomchen of Lachen, who had his hermitage on the border between Northern Sikkim and Tibet. The Earl of Ronaldshay (later Marquis of Zetland), former governor of Bengal, has written admiringly about the Gomchen: ‘ Over a period of twenty six years he had been in the habit of retiring from the world from time to time and living a life of solitary meditation in remote cave- high up and difficult of access, among the cliffs of an inhospitable mountain tract above the path to Thangu. One of the periodic retirements from the world had been extended over a period of five years, during which he had seen no human being and had kept body and soul together on a minimum of food.’ The Lachen Gomchen was no other than the Guru of the famous French Orientalist and explorer Alexandra David Neel. In 1937 when Lama Anagarika Govinda was the guest of the Chogyal of Sikkim, he visited the Hermit Abbot of Lachen in his mountain retreat near Thangu, at an altitude of 13000 feet in the Sikkim Himalayas. He was in ardent desire to meet the hermit as he was already over seventy years old, and he felt he had no time to loose. He did not mind the two weeks journey on horse back through the most mountainous region of the world (Sikkim is said to have the greatest number of mountains above 24000ft compared to any other area in the world of similar size) He risked the fast approaching winter and the risk of the hermitage being closed to visitor as it happened so often when he was engaged in along period of meditation.

He put up in a horribly cold and doughty wooden rest house not far below the hermitage of the Gomchen. The next morning he climbed up to hermitage and he was received by the Gomchen discussed about David Neel and the subject of meditation and its various methods and experiences.

The Great Hermit Abbot of Lachen, Lama Anagarika Govinda has long been gone, but the cave in the cliffs is still there in the beautiful mountains of North Sikkim.

07 Days 06 Nights

 Day 01



 Day 02


Gangtok- Lachen ( N.Sikkim)

 Day 03


Lachen - Diuthang. Overnight halt in a hut / tent

 Day 04


Diuthang-Cave- Overnight Meditation Programme at Cave

Day 05


Cave to Phalung Night halt at

Day 06


Phalung - Thangu - Lachen

Day 07


Lachen – Gangtok

Route Map




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