Tagma Eulpa Lhakhang


Tagma Eulpa lhakhang or Tagma temple is in Tagma village, Trong gewog, Zhemgang district. It is a 10-minute drive from Tingtibi town, approximately 65 kms from Zhemgang main town.  A 500-meter feeder road wends its way off the Zhemgang-Gelephu highway to the temple. It is located on a hilltop facing the Jowo Durshing mountain range. The name Tagma refers to tag (tiger) ma (female) that roamed the valley and preyed on domestic animals.


The oral sources say that the Tagma temple was founded by the Tagma Dung; unfortunately, there are no written documents regarding the establishment and the actual founder of the temple. According to Lham Dorji, the Tagma Dung originated from Ura Dung Nagpo, the lord of Ura village under Bumthang district (dung refers to the patrilineal noble families, used as a title of an adult male noble household). Ura Dung Nagpo was believed to have descended from the sky to fulfill the wishes of the people of Bumthang, and later his clans spread to several parts of central Bhutan. Another theory that Lham Dorji presents is that the Tagma Dung is a descendant of Lhasey Tsangma, a son of the Tibetan King Thrisong Deutsen (755-804, who took refuge in Bhutan), and he is believed to be the origin of many noble families of the eastern and central parts of Bhutan.

Dorji (an 80-year-old man), the present caretaker of the temple says that Tagma Dung’s family used to live in a traditional three-storey house. The ground floor was used as a store and the main altar was on the first floor.  Many religious activities and offerings to the guardian deity Palden Lhamo (Shri Devi /Mahakali, the Female Dharma Protector) were conducted on the first floor. The second floor was used as the family’s living space and for other social gatherings. Dorji believes that since the altar was on the first floor, whenever the family had gatherings on the second floor, the movement made the filth and dust to fall through the cracks of the wooden floor, defiling the altar of Palden Lhamo. As a result, it is believed that the Tagma Dung’s family members fell sick and faced obstacles for many years.

According to oral sources, a lama had come from Chodrak Gonpa in Bumthang to collect grains from the people of Tagma (as was the practice in those days), and he met Dung Yeshi, a descendent of the Tagma Dung. Dung Yeshi sought divination from the lama to understand why there was much misfortune in his household, and the lama told the family that they have defiled the deity Palden Lhamo. So, the lama advised Dung Yeshi to relocate Palden Lhamo’s shrine to an appropriate place, and thus Dung Yeshi is believed to have moved the temple to its present location.

Earlier, the people of Tagma used the place (the current location of the temple) to slaughter cattle and other domestic animals for consumption. The lama told the people of Tagma to construct a temple on the very place for the well-being of the people and all the sentient beings. Dung Yeshi and his family contributed the fund and the people of Tagma helped with the construction of the temple. After the temple was completed the deity Palden Lhamo was moved to the Tagma lhakhang. At present the temple belongs to the Tagma community, and is not a private property of the Tagma Dung.

Architecture and Artwork

The two-storey temple is built in traditional Bhutanese architecture with mud, stones, and wood. The ground floor of the temple is used as a store and the first floor is used as the main altar.

The Tagma Eulpa lhakhang is sacred because of the deity Palden Lhamo. The main relic in the temple is a wall painting of Palden Lhamo (Shri Devi / Mahakali, the Female Dharma Protector) in the goenkhang (altar of the protective deities) of the temple.

In the main hall, a statue of Guru Rinpoche is in the middle (donated by Tshering Dorji of Tagma Village) flanked by the statues of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Buddha Shakyamuni on the right, Jampelyang (Manjushri, the deity of Wisdom) and other small statues are on the left of Guru Rinpoche (donated by the Tagma villagers).

Beautiful paintings of Guru Rinpoche and his two consorts Khandro Yeshe Tsogyel and Khando Mandarava, and Buddha Shakyamuni are on the walls in the temple. A painting of the four Guardians (cardinal directions): Eul-Khor-sung (East Dhritarashtra), Chen-Mig-Zang (West Virupahsha), Nam-Thoe-Sey (North Vaishravana), and Pha-Kay-Po (South Virudhaka) adorn the entrance of the temple

Social and Cultural Functions

Currently, the Tagma temple hosts three major events yearly. A Zhingdrup is conducted on the 17th day of the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar. The ritual is presided over by the Tang Rinpoche, Choney Rangdrol (originally from Kham, Tibet).

A Tshechu or one-day ritual offering is held on the 15th day of the 5th month of the Bhutanese calendar.

On the 15th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar, the temple hosts a one-day prayer Tshechu. Gomchen (lay practitioners) and gelongs (monks) conduct rituals for the well-being of the community. Whenever there are social functions and ritual ceremonies, the Tagma and Tingtibi people collect donation and grains to conduct the rituals and other social gatherings. The village community congregate and pray to gain merit, to cleanse defilements, and pray for the well-being of the community.


Dorji, caretaker, Tagma


Dorji, L. (2005).  The historical anecdotes of Kheng nobilities. Journal of Bhutan Studies, 13, 31-59.

Tshewang, L. P. (2008). Druk gi gyelrab (History of Bhutan). Thimphu: KMT. 


Sangay Thinley, Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2017.


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