Nyakhar Lhakhang


The Nyakhar lhakhang is located in Nyakhar village, in Nangkor gewog, Zhemgang dzongkhag. It is located approximately 55 kms from Zhemgang main town. It is now accessible by a farm road from Buli, and takes approximately 2 hours to reach the village. The temple stands below the village farm road, in the heart of the village.


The name of the temple comes from the village name, Nyakhar. Legend has it that the villagers offered wild asparagus to Lama Zhang (late-17th century, the 2nd reincarnation of Beyul Lama Sacha Yoezer) of Zhemgang, hence Lama Zhang named the village as Nyakhar (the village of asparagus).

According to sources, Nyakhar was ruled by a noble family, the Nyakhar Dung. This family was powerful in the Kheng region from the 11th century until the mid-17th century, and they were believed to be the descendants of the Ura Dung, Lhawang Drakpa (of Tibetan royal lineage). Their dominance came to an end with the advent of the Drukpa sect in the 17th century. Then Nyakhar Dung had requested lama Zhang to build a temple in Nyakhar. Lama Zhang was offered a pair of cymbal, and it is believed that he had thrown the cymbal from a place called Lhaipong to see where it lands. At first the cymbal had landed at the bottom of the village; however, it swirled again and landed in the heart of the village. This was considered a good omen, and a temple was built there. After the temple was completed, Nyakhar Dung offered 13 gold statues and a scripture written in gold. These relics are still housed in the temple to this day, and they are not open for public display.

Yeshey Wangda, a 98-year-old man, the oldest person in the village believes that Lama Zhang had built the temple in Nyakhar because the architectural style is similar to a temple in Kurtoe (Lhuntse) in eastern Bhutan, which is believed to have been built by Lama Zhang. According to oral sources, lama Zhang had constructed three temples: one in Nyakhar, one in Kurtoe, and the third temple in an unspecified place.

Another supposition is that Dorji, a villager, said that Nyakhar Dung had looked for an appropriate place to build a temple in the village. He had climbed a hill and had thrown the cymbal to see where it lands, and built the temple on the place where the cymbal landed.

The four pillars inside the temple, made from cypress tree, are considered sacred. The pillars were not replaced since its initial construction. Nyakhar Dung’s descendant is the caretaker of the temple.

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. The villagers wanted to carry out a major renovation of the temple, but the proposal was denied by the government because of its antiquity. Thus, a minor expansion was carried out about 10 years ago with the help of the villagers and financial aid from the gewog administration.

The main relics in the temple are the 13 gold statues, the golden scripture, and the pair of cymbals that was offered to lama Zhang by the Nyakhar Dung. In the main hall, the center statue is Toenpa (Buddha) with Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) on the right and Guru Padmasambhava on the left. The walls are covered with paintings of Tshepamay (Amitayus), Kunzang Yab Yum (The primordial Buddha Samanthabhadra with his consort), Oepamey (Amitabha), Guru Tshengay (the 8 manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava), and a painting of Nyakhar Tshen, the local deity of the village called Senchen Dralha Gorchung. The Goenkhang (altar of the protective deities) has Madza Dam Sum, Ekajati, Za (Rahula), they are the three principal protectors of the Nyingma tradition; Dorje Legpa (Vajrasadhu); and the local deity, Senchen Dralha Gorchung. Besides the sacred relics, there are also new statues that were offered in the name of the deceased by their families.

Social and Cultural Functions

The temple organizes Yar-Ngo, a ritual on the 10th day of the Bhutanese month, and Mar-Ngo, a ritual on the 25th day of the Bhutanese month.

A three-day Nyungney (prayer and fasting ceremony) is conducted from the 8th to the 10th day of the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar, followed by the ritual of Norbu Jamtsho (Homage to the spiritual teacher).


Lungmola, former caretaker, Nyakhar

Yeshey Wangda, senior villager, Nyakhar

Lhakpa Dorj, present caretaker, Nyakhar

Khenthrul Garab Dorji, chairperson of the Nyingmapa sect, Buli village.


Dargye, Y. (2001). History of Drukpa Kagyud school in Bhutan. New-Delhi: Omega Traders.

Dorji, L. (2005). The historical anecdotes of Kheng nobilities. JBS vol. 13, pp. 45-47.

Lopen Pemala. (2008). ‘Brug gi rgyal rabs. KMT: Thimphu.

Yonten Norbu, Assistant Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2017.


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