Sherling Lhakhang


Sherling Lhakhang is located in Sherling village, Langthel gewog, which is about 53 km south of Trongsa town toward Zhemgang. The temple is about 20 kilometers from Langthel town and is reached by a feeder road. There are only three households in Sherling village.


Local sources say that when Guru Padmasambhava was travelling from India to Bumthang, he subdued the demons of Sherling village, and a cypress tree grows near the temple where this took place. There are many pilgrimage sites related to Guru Padmasambhava near the Sherling temple.

During the time of Guru Padmasambhava, the place was known as Shenling, “place of the butcher.” Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364), the great master who came from Tibet, is believed to have established the temple in the 14th century, and he transformed the name of the place to Sherling, “place of knowledge.”

It is believed that Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam visited eight different locations in Bhutan in the 1350s, and they all carry the name of ling at the end, which means “pleasant place.” Sherling is considered locally as one of these places, although it is not listed in Longchen’s writing and it is also known as Mangde Sherabling.

Other informants speculate that the temple was not established by Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam but by his son, Thugsey Dawa Dakpa (1356–1409). Oral stories say that Kunkhyen Dawa Dakpa came to the village to perform the ritual of Langthel Drup (also called Namther Drup). While previously performing the ritual in Langthel, he had seen a shape that resembled a jewel over the village of Sherling. Taking this as an auspicious sign, he decided to establish a monastery there in 1359. There is a conflict here, however, as Thugsey Dawa Drakpa was born in 1356, and the establishment of a temple in 1359 seems unlikely.

In the account of Kunkhyen Longchenpa in Bhutan, Dorji Penjore writes:
“When Longchen was visiting the Mon region of Mangdey (Trongsa), he arrived at the present village of Shengleng in Baleng. There he gave teachings to the devotees, performed Mi shi dbang skur for the dead, rim gro for the sick and other spiritual services. He built a lhakhang in Baleng as his winter residence and named it Shengleng Goenlha (dgun lha) or winter lhakhang. The local people who were practicing Bon became his patron and offered him about 20 langdo (glang dor) of chu zhing. Longchen was to reciprocate the offer by visiting and staying in dgun lha in winter months” (Pp. 69). This passage seems to refer to the temple considered here.

The temple has always been looked after by the Samtenling lamas lineage from Bumthang. After the Samtenling lama passed away in the 1960s, no one took care of monastery, and it started to deteriorate.

In 2002, Khenpo Wangchuk, a local lama, started renovating the monastery. Today, the monastery is looked after by KhenpoWangchuk and Tulku Ngawang Tenpel. There are 23 monks and one teacher living at the temple today; they are from the villages of Langthel, Bayling, Zhemgang, and other places in Trongsa.

Architecture and Artwork

The one-storey temple was built in the traditional Bhutanese style using stones and woodwork. There are many statues inside the temple, the main ones of which are the Buddhas of the Three Times (past, present, and future); Marmedze (Dipankara); Shakya Thubpa (Shakyamuni); and Jampa (Maitreya). There are also statues of Chana Dorje (Vajrapani); Zambalha (god of wealth); and Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam.

A relic which is said to be the footprint of Guru Dorji Droloe (a wrathful aspect of Guru Rinpoche) is also kept inside the temple, but there are no wall paintings inside the temple.

Social and Cultural Functions

The temple hosts five main events each year:

• 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar: Monks perform a ritual for well-being (Monlam chenmo)
• 10th day of the 3rd month: Commemoration of the death anniversary of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (Zhabdrung Kuchoe)
• 6th month: 100,000 recitations of Guru Padmasambhava’s prayer (Vajra Guru Dungdup)
• 9th month: Ritual feast (Tsog Bum)
• 18th day of the 12th month: Commemoration of the death anniversary of the great master, Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjam


Lopen Phup Tshering, from Gangtey Village, 2014
Jigme Dorji, builder of the Sherling Lhakhang, Sherling village


Dorji Penjore. (2005). “Oral construction of exile: Life and times of Künkhyen Longchen Rabjam in Bumthang.” Journal of Bhutan Studies 13/2 (Winter). Pp 60–73.

Researcher and Photographer

Tenzin Dargay, Asst. Lecturer, Institute of Language and Culture Studies, 2014

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