Dhangkhar Lhakhang


Dhangkhar lhakhang is 7km south of the Zhemgang Dzong and can be reached by a farm road. The temple is located on the right side of Dhangkhar village. The farm road leads to Dhangkhar temple first and ends at the village.

Dhangkhar lhakhang is a two-storey traditional Bhutanese house built right beside the farm road. The lhakhang is enclosed within an old wall. There is an old cypress tree in front of the temple, and a stone next to the temple that contains the footprint of Guru Rinpoche. And on the left side of the temple at the entrance is a big prayer wheel.


The date of the construction and the founder of the temple are unknown, but the local sources say that it was the seat of Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) who visited and blessed many places in Zhemgang. The community still practices the Peling tradition of Buddhism (Peling Choelug).

According to oral sources, the village was named Dhangkhar (dhang means clear, khar means clear/immaculate in the Kheng language) because the early morning sun rays from the Rewotala peak fall on the village, hence the name.

Dhangkhar lhakhang is one of the oldest temples under Trong gewog. It is believed that in the mid 8th century, Guru Rinpoche is said to have visited Dhangkhar on this return from Ugyen Drak in Nabji after settling the dispute between the kings, Nawoche and Sindhu Raja. He left his footprint on the stone which is on the right side of the temple.

The oral source said that earlier the temple was below the farm road and it was a one-storey temple. In the 1980s the temple was shifted to the present location upon the advice of Kunzang Thinley, the former Lam Neten of Zhemgang because there was not enough space for religious and other social functions. The whole community was involved in the dismantling and in the reconstruction of the new temple. Ap Sangay says that the temple was rebuilt around 1982.

Architecture and Artwork

Dhangkhar lhakhang is a two-storey temple built in the traditional Bhutanese style and it is surrounded by a wall. The main altar is on the first floor and the ground floor is used as a storeroom during the funeral rites. There is a separate room attached to the right side of the temple and this room is used as a kitchen and also as a torkhang (room for preparation of ritual cakes) during religious festivals.

The sacred objects in the temple are a statue of Guru Nangsi Zilngon in the centre, a statue of the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (1592-1651) on the right side, and the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni) on the left side. The Guru Nangsi Zilngon’s statue was already there in the old temple, but the other two statues were added after the temple was shifted to its present location.  Inside the temple there are no wall paintings, and the temple is more like a traditional Bhutanese house.

Social and Cultural Functions

Ap Sangay is the current caretaker of the temple and he has been for over 50 years. He takes care of the daily offerings and the community takes care of other big rituals and offerings. The rituals are conducted by the gomchens (lay-practitioners) of Dangkhar village. The community practices Peling tradition and performs the following activities.

  • From the 13th – 15th day of the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar, Nyungney (fasting retreat and prayers) is sponsored by the community.
  • From the 8th – 10th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar, Kanjur (Buddhist Canon) recitation is conducted.
  • From the 8th – 10th day of the 7th month of the Bhutanese calendar, Nyungney (fasting retreat and prayers) is sponsored by the community.
  • From the 13th – 15th day of the 7th month of the Bhutanese calendar, Baza Guru Dungdrup/ Mani Dungdrup recitation is organized.


Ap Sangay 70, Caretaker, Dhangkhar Lhakhang


Pema Youden, Asst. Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2017.

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