Lhodrakharchu Gonpa


It is an imposing monastery with several buildings located on a slope above the Chamkhar river bridge on the left side of the river. There is a motorable road going until the monastery from the Swiss farm. A large terrace provides wonderful view of the Chhoekhor valley and the Jakar dzong. The buildings are composed of the Guru lhakhang, Tshokhang (Prayer hall) capable of housing about 500 monks, residences for high lamas and teachers, classrooms, Library, Monastery offices, Monks’ hostels, Kitchen, store and dining room, a Guest house Mipham guest-house,  and a hermitag. ref. http://tshokeydorji.org


It bears the name of a great monastery in Lhodrak (Southern Tibet), practically on the border with Bhutan and whose reincarnated lama took refuge in Bhutan and died there.

This lineage is that of Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche, whose origin goes back to a disciple of Guru Rinpoche. The present reincarnation, who comes from Eastern Bhutan, is very respected. Many children have joined this monastery, whose monks now number more than 400.

The first Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the close five heart sons and one of the twenty five principal disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. He was an accomplished master and was among the first seven to receive the ordination of monks in the eighth century. He was also the root Lama of the great Buddhist King Trisong Detsen. Subsequently, there were many successive reincarnations of Namkhai Nyingpo such as Treasure Revealers Jangchub Lingpa Palgi Gyaltsen and Dawa Gyaltsen. Most of his incarnates were born in the province of Lhodrak in the south of Tibet, where there are many holy places and caves connected with Guru Rinpochhe and other great Masters.

Namkhai Rinpoche took rebirth in 1670 in Lhodrak in Southern Tibet as Rigzin Lobzang Lhachog. At the age of eight, the Fifth Dalai Lama officially recognised Rigzin Lobzang Lhachog as the reincarnate of Namkhai Nyinpo and installed him as the abbot of Lhodrak Kharchu monastery. Since then, Lhodrak Kharchu Dudjomling has been the seat of the Namkhai Nyinpo reincarnates. However, in 1959 the sixth Namkhai Nyingpo was forced to flee south towards Bhutan where he spent the remainder of his life.

The Seventh Namkhai Nyingpo was born in 1966 near Tongshang Thrichu Gonpa (Tashi Yangtse district) in Eastern Bhutan to Tshering Gyaltsen and Sherabmo. The child was recognised as the Seventh Namkhai Nyingpo by the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, who had clearly predicted the rebirth describing the names of the parents and other such details. Consequently, in 1972, at the age of six, he ascended to his predecessor’s throne at the Pema Shedrup Chholing or the second Kharchu Monastery in Bumthang. At the age of eight, he received the Refuge Ordination and on two occasions the Long Life Empowerment from the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. In the same year, he received the Kalachakra Empowerment, teachings on the Bodhicharyavatra and many other major teachings from the Dalai Lama. Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche continued his intensive study of Buddhist philosophy with many masters and in the spirit of non-sectarianism has received teachings and transmissions from the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He has also transmitted his own special nyingma lineage called Jang Ter (Northern Treasure) teachings to other Lamas and Rinpoches including the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.  Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche has mainly concentrated on the care and training of the monks and nuns at his monasteries in Bhutan and on his own study and practice. He has given numerous teachings, empowerments and oral transmissions in Bhutan and abroad.

The monastery was small until the 1990s and the present construction was made possible with support extended by His Majesty the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck in particular and from other Buddhist supporters, Bhutanese and foreigners.

Architectural style / school and related art works

Its style is closer to that of a Tibetan monastery with its huge halls and the seats of the masters near the altar. Each hall is surrounded by the monks’ hostels. The paintings in the older Guru lhakhang are magnificent and are the work of the Tibetan monk in residence, Lopen Trashi Wangdi and his students. They describe episodes in the life of Guru Rinpoche according to his biography the Kathang Sertreng. The main statue is Guru Nansi Zilnon, a protective aspect of Guru Rinpoche subduing the three worlds.

The larger assembly hall (tshokhang) built in 2000 contains statues of Guru Rinpoche in different forms, the Buddha, and the great Tibetan treasure discoverer, Rigzin Goedem (1337–1409), to whose lineage this monastery’s teachings are linked. The paintings, finished in 2004, are very beautiful and are also the work of Lopen Trashi Wangdi and his students. They depict the most esoteric aspects of Tantric deities as well as lineages of transmission. On the western wall, there is a painting of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617–1682), who was very close to the Nyingmapa teachings and in particular to the tradition of the Jang Ter of Rigzin Goedem.  The Fifth Dalai Lama also recognized the first incarnation of Namkhai Nyingpo.

Since 2001, the monastery possesses a large religious banner (Thongdroel), which is displayed on certain occasions.

Social cultural function

The construction of the monastery has been made possible with valuable support extended by His Majesty the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck in particular, and generous support received from other disciples, Bhutanese and foreigners.

At present, there are a total of 400 monks. The regular curriculum of the school includes reading, recitation of daily prayers, grammar, poetry, dances, mandala drawings, melodies of sacred rituals, use of ceremonial instruments and art of making sacrificial objects, and meditation. The monastery currently offers three main stream of studies, namely Shedra (course work), Drupdra (meditational aspects) and monastic rituals.

The monastery plays an important role in the daily life of the residents of Chamkhar village. A festival, the Trelda tsechu (5 month, 9-to 10th day of the Bhutanese calendar) is performed every 12 years (Monkey year) (last date 2004).

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)