Drangla Lhakhang Nyingpa


Drangla Lhakhang Nyingpa, locally known as Drangla Gonpa, is a privately owned temple approximately 45 km from Trongsa town. The feeder road leading up to the Gonpa breaks off the Trongsa–Wangdue Highway 38 km from Trongsa town. The road leading toward the temple is a farm road that climbs up to an elevation of 3000m (9836′).

About a hundred meters from Drangla Lhakhang Nyingpa sits another temple called Drangla Samtencholing Gonpa. Thick forest and scattered pastures surround the temples.


The date of the temple’s establishment is unknown. The current caretakers are the 5th generation of the same family to be looking after the temple. According to our source, the history of the temple was lost with the death of the current caretakers’ parents, who were the previous caretakers, and there are no written documents regarding the temple’s establishment. However, since the temple follows the Dorling Nyingmapa tradition, it is possible that the temple was established during the time of Terton Dorji Lingpa (1346-1405) or during that of his spiritual son, Chogden Gonpo, also a disciple of Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521), both of whom were active in the region.

The temple had been a one-storey house until 2001, when a renovation took place and a two-storey building was constructed.

In the past there were about 13 households in the area, but these families since moved near the national highway, leaving behind their land near the gonpa. People living in the area are solely dependent on cattle for livelihood and there are only two families left near the gonpa.

Architecture and Artwork

The gonpa is a two-storey square Bhutanese house, with a small courtyard in front and two meter high stone walls surrounding the temple. The temple itself is located on the top floor of the house. The ground floor and the room adjacent to the temple are used by the family taking care of the temple, and they also have a small kitchen attached to the west of the temple. The temple occupies a fairly small space in the house. The main altar houses statues of the Buddha Shakyamuni, Phurpa (Palchen Dorji Shonu (a tantric deity representing one of Guru Rinpoche’s teachings), and Guru Rinpoche. A gonkhang (temple of protective deities) sits to the right of the altar.

The old painted murals were removed during the renovation in 2001 and then put back upon completion of the building work. Wall paintings of Guru Rinpoche, Dorji Chang (Vajradhara), Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tshering Namdruk, Menlha (Buddha of Medicine) and Phurpa (Palchen Dorji Shonu) can be seen today. Near the entrance of the temple stands a new prayer wheel.

Social and Cultural Functions

The temple follows the Dorji Lingpa Nyingmapa tradition of Buddhism and performs three important rituals per year:

  • 10th day of the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar: Tshokhor (ritual feast)
  • 10th–15th days of the 6th month: Summer ritual (Jachoe)
  • 10th–11th days of the 12th month: Winter ritual (Lochoe)


Aum Tshering Choden, caretaker, Drangla Lhakhang Nyingpa


Jigme Wangdi, Asst. Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2014

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)