Khangzang Lhakhang /Zhobling Lhakhang


Khangzhang lhakhang, popularly known as Zhobling lhakhang, is located at Zhobling, in Nangkor gewog, Zhemgang dzongkhag. Zhobling is about 41 kms from Zhemgang on the Zhemgang-Tingtibi road. From Dagphel, the farm road leads to Tali–Buli and then to the junction at Relmong (the junction between Buli and Zhobling), and from there the path on the right leads to Zhobling. Tali is approximately 8 kms from Zhobling.


According to oral sources, Zhobling temple was built in the 1970s by the late Lama Therchong of Bumthang, known in the community as Memey (grandfather) Lama, who lived in Tali Dratshang. Prior to the construction of the present temple, there was a small chorten, constructed by Lopen Nakpayla, a Tibetan who had come to Bhutan during the turmoil in Tibet in the 1960s. The Khangzang Chorten was later demolished to construct the present temple, but the relics from the older chorten were preserved and reinstalled. Hence, the newly built temple is called Khangzang lhakhang, after Khangzang chorten.

The relics from the old chorten include statues of Choepai Lhamo (goddess of offering) and Guru Pema Jungney. According to the caretaker, initially the statues belonged to his mother-in-law, Ai Chinku’s family. There was a dispute amongst the sisters over the statues, so they offered them to Lopen Nakpayla, and he installed them in Khangzang chorten.

Presently, a small cottage for an ORC (Out Reach Clinic) is being built on the site of the old chorten.

Architecture and Artwork

The temple is a two-storey traditional building with the main altar on the first floor and a storeroom on the ground floor. A small room containing a prayer wheel is attached at the temple’s entrance. The community recently cleared an area beside the temple to create a ground for the performance of activities related to the temple.

Inside the temple, there is a statue of Guru Nangsi Zilnon (Guru Rinpoche in semi-wrathful form) in the middle, flanked by Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) and Chana Dorji (Vajrapani) on both sides. Many small statues are also present inside the temple, some of them having been offered by relatives in the name of their deceased. Adjacent to the main statue is the altar of Yeshey Gonpo, the dharma protector, which was built by the community.

The wall paintings in the temple have not been restored since the initial construction. The paintings include Lord Buddha with his two disciples (Sangay Chokor Sum), Sangay Oepamey Chokor Sum (Buddha Amitabha, Avalokitesvara, and Vajrapani), Guru Chokor Sum surrounded by Guru Tshengay (the 8 manifestations of Guru Rinpoche), Chana Dorji (Vajrapani), Dorsem Yab Yum (Vajrasattava), Thoetren Deynga (ཐོད་ཕྲེང་སྡེ་ལྔ), Tandrin Yabyum (Hayagriva), Thuksay Dawa Gyeltshen (Pema Lingpa’s son, 16th century), Zhabdrung, Green Tara, and Choepay Lamo (the Goddess of Offering). There is also a painting of Lama Therchong, the founder of the temple.

Some of the wall paintings were created in the name of the deceased by their relatives, and the names of the deceased are written below the painting.

The roof of the temple was replaced with CGI sheets after the old wooden roof was blown away by the wind in 2012. The serthok (golden pinnacle) of the temple was installed in 2016, with the funds donated by natives of this village, who are now civil servants spread across the country. Ugyen Wangdi (Chusergang Lama) consecrated the serthok. Currently, old wooden planks inside the temple are being replaced with new ones, and a toilet was being built in the spring of 2017.

Social and Cultural Functions

The temple follows the Nyingtik and Peling traditions of Nyingma Buddhism. The temple organizes Yar-Ngo on the10th day of the Bhutanese month, during which practitioners perform the rituals of Rigthir (Rigzin Duepa), and Mar-Ngo on the 25th day of the Bhutanese month during which practitioners perform a ritual of Khandro (Yumkha).

A tsechu ritual is performed on the 10th day of the 5th, 8th, 9th, and 10th months of the Bhutanese calendar, and in the remaining months the tsechu is performed depending upon sponsors. No ritual is performed at the temple on the 7th month of the Bhutanese calendar because the villagers are then engaged in farming.

The temple also organizes Nyungney (fasting and prayers), a three-day fast from the 15th to the 17th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar. Only on rare occasions is nyungey conducted from the 30th day of the same month.

An offering ritual called called Sai-nga Rig-nga / San dha dhued or Sean-due is performed on the 15th day of the 5th month of the Bhutanese calendar as an offering to the Nedag (the deity of the land). The temple also organizes a ritual on Lhabab Duechen (Descending Day of Lord Buddha), on the 22nd day of the 9th month of the Bhutanese calendar.

A ritual called Choedpa (offering) is performed every year from the 13th to the 16th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar. In the past, dances like Chok-cham and Shoeldap-cham were performed. Now the cham (masked dances) are organized only when there are sponsors. Nevertheless, this cham is considered by locals to be the biggest event of the year.

The lay practitioners who perform rituals are mostly from Zhobling and Goling, but the lama (the lead performer) is invited from Goling. Sometimes the Drukpa monks are invited from Tali Dratshang, if they are not engaged elsewhere.

Usually the villagers form groups on their own and sponsor the rituals. During the Choedpa, Lama Ugyen Wangdi heads a group to collect money and sponsor this big event.

Ap Wangdila has been the caretaker of the temple since 2014. Earlier, the caretaker was chosen on rotation amongst the villagers every one or two months. However, the community found this process too challenging, so in 2014 the village community decided to appoint the caretaker on a lucky draw, and Ap Wangdila was selected as the temple’s permanent caretaker.


Ap Wangdila, 52, temple caretaker, Zhobling


Sonam Jamtsho, Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2017.

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