Buli Dechen Choling Lhakhang


Buli Dechen Choling temple is located in the heart of Buli village under Nangkor gewog and is about 60k east of Zhemgang town. The two-storied temple is built in the traditional Bhutanese architecture with extensive use of mud and woods, adorned with colorful paintings.  The temple is surrounded by small prayer wheels that are embedded into the exterior walls of the temple.


The temple was a one-storied structure before it was demolished and reconstructed to the present two-storied temple. The temple was founded by the great treasure-discover Terton Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405). Legend has it that Dorje Lingpa dreamt of the saint Vairocana (8th-9th century) who directed him to travel to the south of Tibet. Thus, he followed his dream and supposedly reached Paro, Bhutan in 1370.

According to the informants, Dorji Lingpa visited many places in western and central Bhutan and gave teachings to hundreds of devotees and also revealed many treasures until he returned to Tibet in 1376. Most probably, Buli temple was founded between 1370 and 1376 during the Terton’s visit to Bhutan.  The temple was looked after by the villagers of Buli; however, the temple needed extensive renovation. Thus, people like late lopen Norbu, late lopen Tempa Gyeltshen and lopen Sonam Dorji took the initiative to re-construct the temple. The people of Buli community dismantled the one-storied temple, and rebuilt a two-storied temple in its place in1966.

The temple is said to have many precious objects such as twenty-two numbers of silver bowls, a pair of golden cymbal, and ten golden statues. These golden statues were privately owned by a person named Kunzang Wangdi and his family, who were residing beside the temple. It is said that there was an earthquake which damaged Kunzang Wangdi’s house. While the house was being repaired, he had kept the statues in the temple for safe keeping until the renovation work was completed. However, when the renovation was completed, he decided to donate the statues to the temple. According to the informant, people believed that the deities obstructed Kunzang Wangdi from taking the statues back to his house. Moreover, Kunzang’s family members faced much obstacles and calamities, which made them give up their claim to the statues. Among the ten statues, one is the statue of Guru Padmasambhava, which is placed on the right side of the Buddha statue in the altar. The other nine statues were not displayed to the public, hence they could not be identified.

Architecture and Artwork

The ground floor of the temple has a small shrine with a statue of Guru Padamasambhava in the centre, Zhabdrung Rinpoche on the right and Dorje Sempa (Buddha Vajrasattva) on the left. The shrine room has wall paintings of the peaceful and wrathful deities, the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava (called the Jebang Nyernga), Oepamey (Buddha Amitabha), Tshepamey (Buddha Amitayus), and Mithrupa Buddha assembly (Mithrugpa lhatshog/ Aksobhya).

The second floor has a huge altar room with the statue of the present Buddha in the middle and on the right side of the Buddha is the statue of Avalokiteshvara, deity of Compassion (Chagtong Chentong with one thousand eyes/ hands), which was donated by the first King Ugyen Wangchuck (1862-1926). A golden statue of Guru Padmasambhava is placed in front of the Avalokiteshvara statue and on the left hand side of the Buddha statue is the statue of Zhabdrung Rinpoche (1594-1651). On the left hand side of the main altar, there is a statue of Ushnishavijaya (Tsugtor Namgyelma), one of the deities of longevity. There are also numerous small statues of Avalokiteshvara, Guru Rinpoche, and present Buddha, and as well as the Kangyur (the 108 volumes translated word of Buddha) and the Tengyur (the 225 volumes of commentaries on works of Buddha). The Kangyur was donated by the villagers of Buli community, and the Tengyur was donated by Khentrul Garab Dorje (Khengs sprul dGa’ rab rdo rje) a native of Kheng Buli, who was recognized as the reincarnation of Choedrak Lama (Bumthang) Sonam Gyeltshen by Trulshik Rinpoche (1924-2011). The wall paintings represent thirty-five Confession Buddhas (gshags lha so lngaor), Pema Lingpa and his lineage holder, and Tshepamey (Buddha Amitayus).

There is a Goenkhang on the right hand corner of the temple and the goenkhang has images of the fierce protectors: Yabchen Lha chen karpo or the Great White Father (male deity) and Yum Kuntu zang mo or the mother Samantabhadri (female deity). There is also a holy water vessel or bum pa on the shrine which is made of pure silver worth Nu. 60,000/-. The vessel was donated by civil servants from Buli.

Social and Cultural Functions

Although the temple is registered under the Ministry of Home and Culture Affairs, the temple is currently looked after by the Buli community. Khentrul Garab Dorje and his descendants have been performing the following religious ceremonies in the temple. The religious ceremonies of the 8th, 9th and the 10th months are sponsored by the villagers and the rest are performed by small group on rotation.

  • Nyungne (fasting and prayers) is conducted on the 15th day of the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Wild potato festival, which is an offering to the local deities is conducted on the10th day of the 2ndmonth of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Community Tsechu, a one-day ritual offering to all deities (yar ngo mar ngo’i tshes bcu) is conducted on the 10th day of the 3rd month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Nyungne (fasting and prayers) is conducted on the 15th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Trelda Tsechu, a prayer of supplication is performed on the10thday of the 5th month of the Bhutanese calendar:
  • Tsechu prayer coinciding with the First Sermon of Lord Buddha is conducted on the 4th day of the 6th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • A community ritual called the recitation of the Lama Norbu Jamtsho, a Pema Lingpa’s text, and offering to all local deities is organized on the 10thday of the 7th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Zhengshek Pem cham or Peling tsechu is performed based on Pema Lingpa’s work on the 10th day of the 8th month of the Bhutanese calendar. This ritual is performed to appease the local deities as well.
  • Ritual coinciding with the Lhabab Duchen (Descending day of Lord Buddha) is organized on the 22nd day of the 9th month of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • From the 13th – 18th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar, the main ritual of the Kheng region known as Choedpa is organized. On the 13th, the organizers collect goods from the villagers, on the 14th, they prepare ritual cakes, and on the 15th, they start the rituals. On the 16th,17th, and the18th, they celebrate the bountiful produces; thank the deities for their blessings; and atone for all the sins committed while working in the farm throughout the year. A Changkor or wandering from one house to another for local wine session is also conducted. The villagers also celebrate the occasion with traditional games and sports like archery and darts matches. This Choedpa is a grand celebration in the kheng region and drinks and food are served in plentiful.
  • On the 12thday of the 11th month of the Bhutanese calendar, a prayer called Pangi bumi Tsechu is performed and this event is sponsored by the ladies of the village.
  • On the 15th day of the 12th month of the Bhutanese calendar, offerings are made to all the local deities.




Phuntsho Dendup, 56, informant

Tshundu Gyeltshen, 47, caretaker


Sherub Tenzin, Assistant Lecturer, CLCS Taktse, Royal university of Bhutan, 2018.

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