Gangdarpong Lhakhang/ Pong Lhakhang


Gangdarpong temple, locally known as Pong lhakhang, was a privately owned temple located at an altitude of 2025m, overlooking the valley of Wamling and Thrisa. Wamling village is connected by the Zhemgang-Shingkhar feeder road, and is approximately a six-hour drive from Zhemgang town. Gangdarpong temple is surrounded by temples on three sides: a little up the hill is Tshokiling Dratshang (Namkha Nyingpo Rinpoche’s monastery), down in the village is Wamling lhakhang (Phu lhakhang), and on the far right is Wamling Tashi Thongmmon lhakhang. It takes 2 hours from Wamling village to reach Gangdarpong temple.


Gangdarpong temple is located on a small hill in Wamling village, and the villagers call it Pong lhakhang (in Kheng language Pong means hill). The temple was built in 1949 (Iron Dragon year of the Bhutanese calendar) by Lopen Ugyen from Wombong village, Shingkhar gewog. According to oral sources, he was the Mishi Lama (who presides over the death rituals) of Wamling village for many years, and it was believed that in order to repay the dkor (the faith offering enjoyed during his stay as Mishi Lama), he built the Gangdarpong temple. Until 2007, the main relic inside the lhakhang was the painting of Zhithro Dampa Rigjai Lhatshog (42 peaceful and 58 wrathful deities of the Bardo) on the wall. During the renovation in 2007, the temple roof was replaced with CGI sheets and many statues were also installed in the same year.

Architecture and Artwork

Gangdarpong lhakhang is a two-storey temple built in the traditional Bhutanese style and is enclosed by a one-meter metal fence. The main altar is on the first floor and the ground floor is used as a store.  The caretaker occupies the room adjacent to the temple.

Inside the temple, the main altar has the statues of Guru Tsokhor Sum (Guru Rinpoche in the middle, Khando Yeshi Tshogyal on the right, and Khando Mandarava on the left). In addition, there is a statue of Khenlop Choesum (Abbot Boddhisattva Zhiwatso, Guru Padmasambhva and a statue of Tibetan king Thrisong Detsen). The wall paintings include the Zhithro Dampa Rigjai Lhatshog (the 42 peaceful and 58 wrathful deities of the Bardo), Guru Tshengay (the 8 manifestations of Guru Rinpoche), Dorji Sempai Kilkhor (the mandala of Vajrasattva), and Tsheringma (deity of long life).

Social and Cultural Functions

In the recent past, Gangdarpong temple was very important to the villagers of Wamling. The funeral rites on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the 49th day were performed in the temple as the founder was the Mishi Lama Lopen Ugyen.

After his death in the 1980s, he had no descendants to bequeath the temple. The temple was supposedly sold to another person and it remained deserted for a while. Subsequently, the Wamling community took over the temple and appointed a caretaker on rotation, but the caretaker lives down in the village, and she is unable to walk up to make the daily offerings. Today, the temple looks more or less abandoned.


Gyembo Zangmo, 42, caretaker, Gangdarpong Lhakhang.

Tshering Choden, 45, caretaker, Wamling Gonpa (Phu Lhakhang).

Lepo, 78, caretaker, Wamling Tashi Thomen Lhakhang.


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

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