Zurphel Lhakhang


Zurphel temple is located in Zurphel village, Trong gewog, Zhemgang dzongkhag. It is situated at an elevation of 3779.5ft above sea level.  The temple is just above Zurphel village and is 10km away from Tingtibi-Panbang national highway.


The exact date of the construction of  the Zurphel temple is unknown. It is called Zurboe in Choekey (doctrinal language), which means Beyul or the hidden land. The term Zurboe could be traced back to 8th century AD when Guru Rinpoche was at Tang Ugyen Drak, he foresaw a  Beyul in Zurphel.

According to oral sources, long time ago there was a cow herder who lost his cow. In his search, he came across a three-week old cow dung and then a three-day old cow dung. After that he found his cow with a calf nearby a small hut. He could hear a melodious sound of dharma music from the hut. Before he entered, he kept his hat on the pillar of the hut, and suddenly he found himself inside the hut. A feeling of tremendous joy and peace washed over him, and he decided to stay there for three nights which then became a week. After a week he thought of his family back  home. The minute he thought of his family, instantly he found himself on a rock and his hat which he had left on the pillar looked old and weathered. He could not fathom why his hat looked so battered after a week. Nevertheless, he retraced his steps and went back home. When he reached home, he was shocked to find that all his family members had died. This proved that Zurphel is a Beyul, the hidden land as prophesied by Guru Rinpoche. And the cowherder just happened to stumble upon it.

However, the local people said that the temple was built by Trulku Chorten Gonpo (15th c.), the heart son of Terton Dorji Lingpa (14th c. AD).  It is believed that similar to King Songtsen Gempo, Trulku Chorten Gonpo also built 108 temples within a day and Zurphel temple is considered to be one of them. It is believed that beneath the temple is a lake (Tsho). The temple was small in size, but later was renovated to its present size by the Zurphel community.

Architecture and Artwork

The Zurphel temple is built in the traditional Bhutanese architectural style, and is made out of stones, woods, and mud. The temple is a one-storey building and has a main entrance gate. There is a Mani dungkor (prayer wheel), a kitchen, and a butter lamp house in front of the temple. The wall paintings depict peaceful deities on the left and on the right, wrathful deities (Karling zhithro).

The main relic of the temple is a Guru statue designed by Trulku Chorten Gonpo. The unique feature of this Guru statue is that Guru Rinpoche’s dress is closed from left to right (which is the opposite of the normal way). Locals say that in Bhutan, there are only two such statues. The other relics include: old Choe Bum texts, one sacred box, a statue of Dorji Drolo (Guru Rinpoche in wrathful form mounted on a tiger) , and Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara).

Social and Cultural Functions

The community organizes the following social and cultural functions at the temple to accumulate merits.

  • Dechen Shingdrup (Buddha Amitabha ritual) or Nyungne (fasting and prayers) is conducted on the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar
  • Kewa Tsechhu (wild potatoes) festival is organized on the 10th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar.The Zurphel community believes that Guru Rinpoche visits the village on that day.
  • Tshogkor (feast offering) is organized on the 15th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Drukpa Tshe Zhi (first cermon of Lord Buddha ) is celebrated on the 4th day of the 6th  month of the Bhutanese calendar
  • One day Tsechu is performed on the 10th day of the 8th 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
  • Three day annual Tsechhu is performed on the 15th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese
  • The Zurphel community also performs rituals throughout the year, on every 10th, 15th, and 30th day of Bhutanese months. They are dedicated to benefit all sentient beings and to eradicate misfortunes in the community.


Jamyang, 37, care taker

ApGempo, 70, retired army

ApNorzang, 51, former monk


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

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