Wenkhar Lhakhang


Wenkhar Lhakhang is located 70 kilometers away from Trongsa town, towards Zhemgang on the Trongsa-Gelephu Highway. It is a five minute walk from the main road to the temple, which is built on the hilltop of Wenkhar below Dangdung Village. People believe it to be one of the most sacred and powerful temples in Langthel Gewog.


Little is known about the history of Wenkhar Lhakhang, but community informants say that it has been there since time immemorial. The temple lies in an ideal location at the end of the village with some houses nearby.

In Langthel gewog there are many religious sites and holy places, and among those the Wenkhar temple is believed to be one of the most important. People believe that the temple is a sacred place because it houses the local deity of the Langthel gewog, called Wenkhar Meme (the grandfather of Wenkhar) Jow Mara. The local deity is considered to be especially fearsome, and from this reputation the Dangdung villagers have derived a great devotion towards their temple.

Villagers seek the local deity’s help and blessings in many ways. In the past, whenever local people fell sick they had to seek protection from and placate the local deity Jow Mara by sacrificing an animal and offering the warm blood to the deity. Though slaughtering an animal is frowned upon in Buddhism, this practice was considered legitimate in the pre-Buddhist religion of the village. This tradition had been practiced for centuries in order to placate the wrathful Jow Mara and avoid calamities. However, now the tradition of sacrificing animals has been abolished. At this site, the abolishment of such practices dates from the 2ndPetsheling Tulku Jigme Tenpai Gyeltshen (1788-1850) of Petsheling Monastery in Bumthang.

People say that in those days, the Petsheling Tulku used to visit Langthel Gewog in search of cereals for rituals. During his visit to Dangdung community, the venerable master subdued the wrathful Jow Mara, and freed people from the necessity of sacrificial offerings. However, it is said that if any reincarnation of Petsheling Tulku happens to come to Wenkhar Temple, there will be misfortune in his life as a result. To date, no Petsheling Tulku has ever returned to Dangdung village.

In the past, there was a yearly fasting and prayer called Wenkhar Nyungne on the 8th day of the 1st month in the Bhutanese calendar.During this ceremony the people of Langthel and Dangdung communities contributed cereals and other necessary items to perform the ritual. On this day the people gathered together to pray for peace, happiness and wish for the well-being of their families and communities. However, the annual Wenkhar Nyungne was stopped by Lam Yeshi from Bumthang at an unknown date, when the lama visited Dangdung village to perform a ritual. He commanded the people of Dangdung to conduct a Shingdrup instead of a Nyungne, because when there is Nyungne community members refused to turn up to chant the mantra of Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva of compassion) because they were fasting. Now the community continues the annual ritual of Shingdrup.

Architectural art work

The one-storey temple was built in traditional Bhutanese architectural style, with extensive woodwork and stone masonry. It was erected in a simple quadrilateral design around fifteen feet in length and ten feet in height.

The main statues inside temple are Buddha Shakyamuni and Avalokiteshvara with four arms (Chenrezi), which are surrounded by other small statues. The statues are damaged, and parts are missing. In 2005, Aum Nidup from Taktsherla sponsored a wall painting and it was painted by Wangdi from Baling. The wall paintings include the Buddha and his disciples, the twenty-one Taras, and Khenlop chos sum: Khenpo Bodhisattva, Guru Rinpoche and King Trisongdetsen.

Social and cultural functions

Currently, Wenkhar temple hosts two major events every year. A one day ritual offering to Jow Mara called Wenkhar Meme Solchod is held on the 15th day of the 2nd month in the Bhutanese calendar. On the 15th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar, the temple is the venue for a one-day Tshechu.

A shingdrup is also conducted annually on the 7th day of the 1st month in the Bhutanese lunar calendar, and lasts for three days. The event does not at take place at Wenkhar lhakhang, but at the Dangdung Yoetsa Lhakhang, which is located in the middle of Dangdung village.

The temple is also a site for community members to seek divinations for the ill. Whenever people seek divination for a patient at the temple, they offer a butter lamp and put three rice grains inside the butter lamp. If the rice is burned by the butter lamp, then it is considered a bad omen for the patient; if the rice is unburned, it is considered a good omen.

The temple is under the supervision of the Dangdung community, and is currently looked after by one monk.


Ap Namgay, Dangdung village, 2014

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

Researcher & Photographer

Sangay Thinley, Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, RUB, 2014

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)