Konchogsum Lhakhang


4 kms north of the headquarter, Konchogsum Lhakhang is located on the left bank of the Chamkhar river opposite Kuje complex and very close to Tamshing temple. This tiny temple is surrounded by an enclosure. Like any ancient temple in the Tibetan cultural area, the sanctuary consists of a small central shrine which may have had a circumambulation path.


Konchogsum Lhakhang (called Tsilung or Choekhor in the texts) dates, according to the saint Pema Lingpa, as far back as the 8th century. The temple is supposed to have been built by  the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen after receiving instructions fromGuru Rinpoche to do so. The king sent one Bami Trisher from central Tibet to supervise the construction and Guru Rinpoche himself is said to have designed and consecrated the temple. However another Bhutanese tradition considers that it is one of the temples founded by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century.

In 1039 Bonpo Dragtshel, the first active terton (‘discoverer of religious Treasures’) in Bhutan, discovered texts which had been hidden by Guru Rinpoche at this spot. It is said that the king of the water deities rose out of the lake beneath the temple and offered Bonpo Dragtshel a stone pillar and a stone scroll.

Another story in the oral tradition claims that the saint Pema Lingpa in the 15th century also discovered religious treasures here, which he found in an underground lake. He then sealed up the entrance with a block of stone and set his lotus seal on it. Both can be seen in the courtyard. Following a prophecy to repair the temple, Pema Lingpa undertook the renovation of Chokhor Lhakhang in 1479. He mobilized the people of the valley to work on the project and invited an artist called Kungawo from Lhodrak, who restored the paintings. To fund the project, Pema Lingpa was told in a prophecy to extract gold from behind the Vairocana statue. This, he did in public only to reveal a thumb size wax figure of a donkey. However, the next day he found two tiny pieces of gold hidden in the wax donkey which miraculously turned out to be sufficient for gilding all statues and murals. The restoration took two years.

Several great visitors came to the temple, one of them being the Tibetan Dzogchen master Sogdogpa Lodro Gyaltsen (1552-1624). He noted that the locals call this temple Konchogsum Lhakhang  “The three jewels” for its three main statues. The temple was gutted by a fire caused by a butter-lamp in February 2010 but the statues were saved.

Architectural style / school and related art works

This temple is famous for its ancient relic, a bronze bell (choedril), which bears an inscription from the eighth century on the inside. The chimes could be heard all the way to Tibet. The Tibetan army was sent to get it but the bell was so heavy that the soldiers could not lift it and they let it fall, which explains why it is broken. The bell remained in Bhutan.

As for the pillar which stands in front of the enclosure, it is probably an ancient megalith. Megaliths are very common in Bhutan and especially in this region. The main statues in the sanctuary are the Buddha Vairocana, which seems to point to the antiquity of the temple, Guru Rinpoche and Avalokiteshvara.  There are also statues of the great Nyingmapa masters of the Dzogchen tradition: Pema Lingpa and Longchen Rabjam (14th c.). On the walls there were paintings of Guru Rinpoche as well as Pema Lingpa, Longchen Rabjam and Jigme Lingpa (18th c.).

Social cultural function

The temple is an important historical place for the Bhutanese and it is also a place of worship for the villagers in its vicinity. It is looked after by a caretaker of the next by Tamshing monastic community. A school for young monks has been built in 2009 next to the temple and is attached to Tamshing monastic community which upholds the religious teachings of Pema Lingpa (1450-1505).


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