Gongphu Lhakhang


The temple is located in Gongphu village, Trong gewog, Zhemgang dzongkhag. It is situated at an elevation of 4783.5 ft above sea level. The temple is 45km away from Tingtibi town, and from the temple one can see a beautiful view of Gongphu village.


According to oral sources, the origin of the name Gong has two narratives. One story narrates that in Chakharbi village (3km away from Gongphu village), there lived a dumb man who  always came home with cane shoots. When the villagers asked him from where he brought the cane shoots, he would point upward and say that he brought the canes from gong (in Khengpa language, gong means high or above).  The villagers followed him and they also found the cane shoots. From then, the villagers called the place (from where they got the cane shoots) as Gongphu. Later, Chakharbi village also shifted to the present Gongphu village, and nobody knows the reason behind the relocation.

The second narrative states that the village’s name is not Gongphu; instead it was called Gomphu (gom means meditation and phu means higher ground). It is believed to be the place where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in a cave that is near the present village. Thus, the village came to be known as Gomphu, and gradually over time people started calling the village as Gongphu.

Gongphu temple is thought to be one of the oldest in the region; unfortunately, the date of its construction is unknown. According to the caretaker, the temple was built by Beyul Lama called Shakya Ozer who meditated at the site of the present temple. People believe that beneath the temple there is a lake, and because of that one can see traces of water in the four corners of the base wall.

Architecture and Artwork

Gongphu temple is a one-storey building. It is constructed in a traditional Bhutanese style of stones, woods, and mud. In front of the temple there is a courtyard where the mask dances are performed. Small Mani Lakhors (prayer wheel) are embedded on the exterior wall of the temple.

The interior walls have paintings of the peaceful and wrathful deities in the middle, paintings of the four great Guardian deities, Chenrezig (Avalokiteśvara ), Guru Tshengay (the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche) , and also a painting of dharma protectors. Oral sources say that Trulku Ugyen Tshering alias memey Lhadripa did the painting in 1975.

The main relics inside the temple are statues of  Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, Tshepamey (Amitayus), Chana Dorji (Vajrapani), the Zhabdrung, and Chenrezig (Avalokiteśvara). There are also some old religious texts in the temple.


Social and Cultural Functions

Gongphu lhakhang serves as an important place to conduct annual rituals and other offerings. The village community sponsors all the social and cultural events at the temple. The gomchens (lay practitioners) and sometimes gelongs (monks) of Gangtey trulku perform the rituals in the temple. Some of the rituals that are organized at the temple are:

  • Dechen Zhingdrup (ritual to Amitabha) ritual is conducted for three days on the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Nyungne (fasting and prayer) is organized for three days on the 3rd month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Recitation of religious texts containing one hundred thousand verse is conducted for five days on the 5th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Tsechu is celebrated on the 10th day of the 6th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Nyungne (fasting and prayer) is again organized for two days on the 7th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Lhabab Duechen (Descending day of Lord Buddha) is celebrated on the 22nd day of the 9th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • A three-day mask dance Tsechu is performed on the 10th day of the 10th Month of the Bhutanese calendar.


Ap Sonam Pelki, 70, care taker

Aum Gyem Lham, 69


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

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