Dangdung Yulsar Lhakhang


Dangdung Lhakhang lies above the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway, and on the left side of the Mangdechu. It is approximately a two and a half hour drive from Trongsa town towards Zhemgang. The temple is a small, two-story traditional Bhutanese building located opposite a pass between Trongsa and Zhemgang called Koshala.


People of Dangdung village attribute the temple to the religious figure Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521), but no one knows exactly when the temple was built. Initially, the temple was believed to be only one story, but the second story is said to have been built in the 1950s. The sacredness of the temple’s site is attributed to the fact that Guru Rinpoche visited it.

The name of the village, Dangdung (dvang dung), is believed to be have been given by Guru Rinpoche himself, while he was travelling north via the spot where the temple now stands. The village appeared to be like a marvelously peaceful paradise (lha yi yul ltar dvang ba) resting upon a conch-like hillock (dung dkar ltar ‘khyil ba). People even say that Guru Rinpoche rescued a woman from a demon, and there is still a chorten built at the spot where this occurred. As further evidence of Guru Rinpoche’s visit, locals point out that there are many other holy places to be visited in and around Dangdung.

While returning from Kheng Tama to the south of Dangdung, Terton Pema Lingpa visited the site and stayed there. Evidence of Pema Lingpa’s visit includes a dark house in the village, which is believed to have been his kitchen. In the middle of the village, there is a rock where Terton Pema Lingpa is believed to have meditated. It used to be called Phugphel (phug ‘phel) but now people call it Phogphel (phog ‘phel). Phugphel was not kept clean and became polluted, but now the villagers are working on improving its condition to respect its sacred nature. Beside the rock, there is a beautiful ground called Tajong (rta ljong) where, it is believed, the horse of Pema Linpa was kept.

Architecture and Art Work

The main statues of the temple are Guru Rinpoche and the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The temple contains paintings of both Nyingma and Kagyu lineages. On the walls of the ground floor, there are paintings of the deities of Bhutan. The main relic of the temple is a scripture called Bum Drima (bum ‘bris ma), a handwritten Transcendental Wisdom in 100,000 verses, which is attributed to Pema Lingpa himself.

Social and Cultural Functions

The temple provides an avenue for the villagers to hold social gatherings. However, there is no monastic institution, and as of now the villagers take care of the temple themselves. The rituals held in the temple are sponsored by the community.

In addition to social functions for villagers, there are several functions held in the temple. The most important is the Dangdung prayers (Mani) held within the three winter months (no specific date). The community also hosts a ritual called Chodpa (mchod pa) in the second, third and fourth months of the Bhutanese calendar. In the eleventh month of the Bhutanese calendar, a Mewang (me dbang), or fire blessing, is performed.


Lopen Kuenzang Dorji, Senior Research Officer, Royal Academy for Performing Arts, 2014


Dechen Choney, Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, May 2014

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