Holy Places in Bhutan

Bhutan, Land of Thunder Dragon, is a small kingdom located in between two Asian giants China and India. The land consists mostly of steep and high mountains crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. Beauty by its nature, around 70% of the country is still covered with the virgin forest.



Holy Pleaces in Bumthang
  • Jampa Lhakhang : Jampa Lhakhang is one of the oldest Lhakhang (Monastery) in Bhutan. It was built in 659 A.D. by Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo to pin down the left knee of a giant ogress whose body lay across the Himalayas.
  • The Kencho Sum Lhakhang :The Kencho Sum Lhakhang was originally built in the 7th century but later restored by Terton Pema Lingpa in 15th century. The three sacred Buddha statues which grace the lhakhang’s main shrine are said to have miraculously flown there from Khini in Kurtoe, a region further east of Bhutan.
  • The Lhodrak Karchu Dratshang : The Lhodrak Karchu Dratshang was built by Namkhai Nyingpo and is located on a forest slope overlooking Chamkhar town.
  • Tak Rimochen :Tak Rimochen takes its name from the vertical tiger-stripes like print on the face of the cliff where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the 8th century A.D.
  • Tharpaling Goemba : Tharpaling Geomba was established by the great Dzogchen master, Longchen Rabjampa during 15th century, in Chumey valley which is one of the main seats of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism.
  • Kurjey Lhakhang : Kurjey Lhakhang is an important place of pilgrimage for most devout Buddhist as it was built around rock on which Guru Padmasambhava left an imprint of his body while meditating there in the 8th century. The name Kurjey means sacred body imprint. The rock around which the temple grew came to be known as Dragmar Dorje Tshengpa (The red clieff of the Diamond of long life). Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck built a wall with 108 choetens around the complex in 1984.
  • Choejedrak Lhakhang : Choejedrak Lhakhang is among the many holy sites that was identified and blessed by Guru Padmasambhava. According legend, Guru came on a flying tigress and left remarkable imprints in the rocks that one can see a cubit length footprints of the Guru, and the footprints of the legendary flying tigress that the Guru rode to Choejedrak from Taktshang in Paro in the fearsome form of Dorji Drolo, one of his eight sacred manifestations. The temple we see today was founded by gyalwa Lolaypa in the 12th century. One of the most treasured relics at Choejedrak is the skull of one of the Guru’s consorts.
  • Tamzhing Lhakhang : Tamzhing Lhakhang was founded by one of the foremost of Tertons (Treasure Reavelers : Saint who were inspired by sacred visions, they unearth and interpret sacred spiritual texts and relics hidden by Guru in 8th century), Terton Pema Lingpa, in the year 1501 A.D. Later the temple became the seat of the successive sungtruls or “speech reincarnation” of terton Pema Lingpa. The armoury in the temple, also cast by terton Pema Lingpa, is a testimony of the saint’s renowned skill as a black-smith. Inside Tamzhing, one also comes across wall paintings by Pema Lingpa, and a throne that he built.
  • Thukten Shedrup Dargay Choling Goemba : Thukten Shedrup Dargay Choling Goemba was co-founded by Dasho Gonpo Dorji and Doring Trulku Jamyang Kunzang the third mind reincarnation of the Terton Jigme Lingpa, in 1935. The Temple serves as a Sheydra (Monastic School) as well as a Drubda (Meditation center).
  • Dechenphodrang Temple : Terton Dorji Lingpa built the Dechenphodrang Temple over the ruins of the ancient Chakhar Lhakhang, which was once a colossal nine-storied castle built by many layers of metal. While no remains of the original castle built by the king of Chakhar, or Sindhu Raja, are evident today, echoes of its old ties to the Chakhar Gyalpo (king) linger in the fact that the sacred termas or “spiritual treasures” in the Dechenphodrang Temple are dedicated to Trashi Kheudron , his daughter, who is also reverted as one of the Guru Padmasambhava’s mystical consorts.
Holy Places in Haa
  • Lhakhang Karpo : Lhakhang karpo (White Monastery) was built in the 7th century A.D. whose sparkling white walls can be seen from a distance in the foothills of the three towering mountains venerated in the region as the Rigsum Gonpo, the geological manifestations of the Bodhisattvas Jampelyang ( Manjushri ) Chana Dorji (Vajrapani ), and Chenrizig.
  • Lhakhang Nagpo : Lhakhang Nagpo is easily distinguished by its greyish blask wall situated a little higher up the mountains from the white Monastery. It was also built in 7th century A.D.
  • Tagchu Goemba : It was founded by Dali Lama Sangay Jamstsho. It is believed to have been built along the lines of the Nub Dali Dzong in Tibet where Lama Sangay Jamstsho served a tenure as the abbot of the Tibetan Monastery.
  • The Shekhar Drak Lhakhang : The Shekhar Drak Lhakhang is ensconced at the foot of a cliff with its walls organically melded in the rock and appears as if it is a natural outgrowth of the landscape rather than something that was imposed on it.
Holy Places in Paro
  • Taktshang (Tiger’s nest Monastery): Taktshang clings precariously to a cliff of 3000 ft above the valley floor. Legends tell us that in the eighth century Guru Padmasambhava flew to the cliff on the back of a tigress and meditated in the cliff for three months. Centuries later, in 1684, the 4th Deb Raja, Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye, considered by many to be the “heart-son” of the Zhabdrung, built a monastery on the site and gave it the name Taktshang, as a reminder of its original in the Padmasambhava legends.
  • Goensakha Lhakhang : Goensakha lhakhang was built in the 14th century by Pha Drung Drung, the great grandson of Lama Phajo Dugom Zhigpo along with Jangsabi Lhakhang.
  • Gorina Lhakhang & Kila Goemba : The Gorina Lhakhang and Kila Goemba were built by the Dupthob Paw Dorji, as saint of the 16th century.
  • The Druk Choeding Lhakhang : The Druk Choeling Lhakhang, where the Zhabdrung faced off his first Tibetan invasion , was founded in 1529 by Ngawang Chogyal, another saint.
  • Dungtse Lhakhang : The Unusual and circular Dungtse Lhakhang, reminiscent of the shanag, or black hat, worn by Bhutanese Black Hat Dancers, was built by the great Builder of iron chain Bridges Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo in 1433. According to legend, he visited Bhutan in the 14th century at the behest of Ap Chundu and Jowo Drakey, the two guardian deities of Paro and Haa valley. Having lived in Paro for a significant portion of his life, Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo is also credited with extracting iron from woochu village in Paro to build numerous iron suspension bridges in Bhutan and across the Himalayas.
  • Kyichu Lhakhang : Kyichu Lhakhang, which is only a few kilometres from the Paro town at Bondey, was built by songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. It is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan king in a day (According to Legend) throughout the Himalayan region. The temple was later visited and blessed by such spiritual personages as Guru Padmasambhava, Lama Phajo Dugom Zhigpo and Je Sherub Gyeltshen.
  • Kunzang Chholing Lhakhang : Kunzang Chholing Lhakhang was built in the 15th century by Terton Dorji Jonpa while the Sangchen Choekhor Goemba was a seat of the Zhabdrung Sungtruls or “speech incarnations” of the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The temple that stands on the site today was established in 1763 by the second Sungtrul Sacha Tenzin.
  • Yutoe Goemba : Yutoe Goemba was established by Terton Jatshon Nyingpo alias Ngachang Huna Membar in the 16th century. The temple was named Yutoe ” Temple on the atop of the turquoise” as it is believed to have been built atop a turquoise projection emerging from a lake beneath the temple.
  • Ragoedrak Lhakhang : Ragoedrak Lhakhang was founded by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century A.D. along with Dzongdrakha Goemba.
Holy Places on Punakha
  • Chimmi Lhakhang : Chimmi Lhakhang stands on a round hillock and was built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Choegyel, after the site was blessed by the “Divine Madman” the maverick saint Drukpa Kinley (1455–1529) who built a chorten on the site. Talo Goemba : Talo Goemba was the home and birthplace of the speech incarnation of the Zhabdrung. It was founded by Chogtrul Jugme Singye (1742-89), the 4th reincarnation of lama Thripa Galsey Tenzin Rabgye. In the early 19th century, Jigme Dakpa (1791 – 1830 ), the third mind reincarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, renovated the area and built a monastery. He also installed in the temple status he had brought from Samye in Tibet. It is said that in 15th century, corresponding to the 8th Rabjung, Lama Drukpa Kuenley was returning from Tibet when he rested at a village called Jilligang. On arrival he tossed the partially burned wood he had carried with him during his journey. When it fell to the ground, it sprouted into at vigorous and leafy tree. The lama saw this as an auspicious sign and later decided to build a temple near the tree. Later in 18th century Chogtrul Jigme Singye (1742-89), the forth reincarnation of Lama Thirpa (Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay) visited the place and built the temple that stands on the ground today.
  • Nyeb Goemba : The Nyeb Goemba was founded in 14th century by the revered lama Thinley Rabyang. A sacred relic in this temple is the Mask of the Raksha, a mythic bull mentioned in Bhutanese scriptures. The mask, fashioned from the rare and expensive Za wood ( Polished knots and burls of wood treasured in Bhutan for their Magical properties), serves as Nangter or “Inner Spiritual Treasure” for the region’s people.
  • Tshephu Monastery : The Tshephu Monastery was founded by Tsephu Trulku Gyeltshen Pelzang, a follower of a saint Goe Tsangpa. Among the relics at the monastery is a gold-plated replica of the Zhabdrung’s hat.
Holy Places in Thimphu
  • Wangdue Tse Monastery : In 1567, a renowned Buddhist master called Lama Tenzin Dendup built a Dzong at the present site of the Wangdue Tse Monastery which stands on a picturesque knoll overlooking the Thimphu Valley. This first structure was called Dzong Gongma (the upper Dzong), and it housed the palace of Deb Raja and became and administrative centre for the region.
  • Dechenphug & Changangkha Lhakhang : Dechenphug and Changangkha monasteries are dedicated to the two guardian deities protecting the upper and lower halves of the capital city. A fact that makes them one of the most frequented places for the spiritual offerings. Large Numbers of devout Bhutanese from all walks of life arrive daily to circumambulate the two monasteries and make butter lamp offerings before seeking the beneficence of the guardian spirits. The changangkha lhakhang was founded by the illustrious Lama Phajo Drugom Zhigpo in the 13th century and was later enlarged and embellished by his son, Nyima. Today the temple is considered as the spiritual home of children born in the chang valley, which include the areas surrounding this ancient lhakhang. The Dechenphu Monastery is one of the holiest places in the Thimphu valley.The Monastery is dedicated to Gyenyen Jagpa Milen, the protector diety of the Thimphu valley. Dechenphu or the cave of consummate bliss Monastery is located at the northern end of the Thimphu valley.
  • Pangrizampa Lhakhang : Pangrizampa Lhakhang was built in 1529 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal who visited Bhutan with his son who came from Raling in Tibet. It was first called druk Phodrangding “The castle of the Dragon”, after the name of an important monastery in Tibet.
  • Phajoding Lhakhang : Phajoding Lhakhang was first visited by lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo who established Thujidrak on one of the four distinct cliffs overlooking the valley. Later on the site was visited by eminent religious saints. One of the main Monastery that is visible on the cliff today was built by the 9th Chief Abbot of Bhutan Sakya Rinchen and the 13th Desi Chogyal Sherab Wangchuk. In 1749, corresponding to the 13th Rabjung, other monasteries that today make up the Phajoding complex was built by the 16th Chief Abbot Sherab Singye and 19th Desi Druk Tenzin in 1789.
  • Tango Monastery : The Tango Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) to the north of the capital city of Thimphu in Bhutan, near Cheri Mountain. It was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 13th century and built in its present form by Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal Ruler in 1688. In 1616, the Tibetan,Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, meditated in its cave. The self-emanated form of the wrathful Hayagriva is deified in the monastery. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan.
  • Cheri Monastery : Chagri Dorjeden Monastery also called “Cheri Monastery” is a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan established in 1620, by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. the founder of the Butanese state. The monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order, is located at the northern end of Thimphu Valley about fifteen kilometers from the capital. It sits on a hill above the end of the road at Dodeyna and it takes about an hour to walk up the steep hill to reach the monastery from there. According to Bhutanese religious histories, the place was first visited by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In the 13th century it was visited by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo the Tibetan Lama who first established the Drukpa Kagyu tradition in Bhutan.


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