Shingkhar Lhakhang


The temple resembles a large two storey stone house in the middle of the village and is preceded by a courtyard where the festival takes place.


Shingkhar Dechenling temple was founded by the great Nyingmapa master Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364) around 1350 during his stay in Bumthang. It is one of the Eight “Ling” (pleasant places) that he founded in Bhutan.

The temple was entirely restored from 1999 under the patronage of Dasho Shingkhar Lam, the holder of the lineage. He did the paintings in the temple himself and the stone throne of Longchen was discovered at that time under the groundfloor planks.

There is another temple located at the top of a hillock dominating the village. Called Drokri rinchen juney, it is the residence (densa) of Longchen Rabjam near a holy spring with nine outlets. It was restored in 1967.

Besides on the east side of Shingkhar, below a cliff is the temple of Shamzur which was the meditation place of Longchenpa

Architectural style / school and related art works

In the entrance of the temple there is a beautiful painting of the universe according to the Buddhist cosmology with the Mont Meru at his centre.

The main temple has two sanctuaries. The one on the ground floor has three gonkhang ‘chapels to the protective deities”, which are never open to visits. The main statues are the Buddhas of the Three Times and the paintings represent the tertons, the ‘great discoverers of religious treasures’, surrounding Guru Rinpoche, as well as the three fundamental teaching cycles of the Nyingmapa school: the Lama Gondu, the Kagye and Phurpa; and a beautiful depiction of Guru Rinpoche’s paradise, the Zandopelri.

During the restoration of the temple in 2000, a stone seat was found and it is considered to be the throne of Longchen Rabjam. A clay statue of the 14th century master was built over the throne, hiding it from view for centuries.

The main statue in the sanctuary on the upper floor represents Guru Rinpoche, and the main painting, Guru Rinpoche and his manifestations in the Sampa Lhundrup cycle. Also of note are the mandalas that decorate the ceiling.

The “residence temple” on the hillock contains statues of Longchen Rabjam, Guru Rinpoche and Jigme Lingpa (1730-98), the other great philosopher of the Dzogchen religious movement, as well as very interesting paintings of the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche, of tertons, the ‘great discoverers of religious treasures’ and of Ura local deities

Social cultural function

The temple is looked after by the lineage holder family and lay practitioners (gomchens). It serves as the temple for the community.

The Festival the Shingkhar Rabney takes place from the 6th to the 11th day of the 9th month and reliligious dances are performed.

A man, the”old man” Chath Dorji, plays an important role in the festival. Wearing a brownish wrinkled mask, he blesses women for children with a wooden phallus and is the warrant of the identity of the village.

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