YIGJA LHAKHANG/ Yigja Dungkhor Lhakhang


Yigja Lhakhang, locally known as Yigja Dungkhor Lhakhang is a privately owned temple built by two Tibetan refugees Ap Choezang and Aum Tshomo. The temple is just a few minute walk from the main town on the right side of the road. Just before entering the temple there are hand driven prayer wheels. Above the temple there are many houses and below the temple are the main road and the town. So we can say that Yigja Dungkhor Lhakhang is situated in the heart of the town and accessible to many people of Zhemgang town and even to the travellers as well.


The exact date of the establishment of the temple is unknown but when remembering the arrival of the Tibetan refugees in the country, it could be traced back to the late 1960s. The main reasons for constructing the temple is, during those days most of the people in Zhemgang were doing small business but Ap Choezang and Aum Tshomo, the Tibetan refugees, were doing far better than the rest of the people. Therefore, under the patronage of this couple, the temple was constructed while the land for the construction of the temple was offered by one of the Trong villager.

The couple decided to construct the temple with the money they had earned from their hard work as they did not have anyone to inherit their properties. Later on, the couple handed over the temple to the district administration along with the amount of Ngultrum 10,000 during the time of Lam Neten Tashi in the 1980s.

The main religious object of the temple is a Yigja Dungkhor. Yigja is the hundred syllable mantra of Vajrasattva and a Dungkhor is a big prayer wheel. The couple built the temple to make merit and named the temple after the main religious object.


The temple is a one- story square Bhutanese house surrounded by a wall. There is a small hand driven prayer wheel in the entrance of the temple which people turn as they circumambulate the temple. The Yigja Dungkhor is located in the center of the temple and a small altar is set on the left side of the temple. A Guru statue is in the middle of the altar with Dorji Sempa (Vajrasattva) and Chenrezig (Avolokitesvara) on each side. The Chenrezig statue was offered by a man from that locality in honor of his late mother and the Dorji Sempa statue was offered by a civil servant working in the Zhemgang Dzongkhag.

The painted murals are covered by the smoke produced from the butter lamps. The Medicine Buddha (Bhaisajyaguru) is the only paintings on the wall that can be seen clearly and even the thangkas seem damaged with no one to replace or mend them.The wall paintings and the paintings on the Yigja Dungkhor were done by an old Tibetan Lama.


As the location of the temple is congested, there is no social and religious functions conducted on a regular basis. The temple itself is not spacious but during auspicious days or holidays, the elderly people from far and from the nearby places come and offer butter lamps. The caretaker does daily offerings and turns the big prayer-wheel.


Agay Dorji, 85, Caretaker, Yigja Dungkhor Lhakhang


Pema Youden, Assistant Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2017

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