Dongag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery


Dongag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery is located on a hilltop of Khomshar village at an altitude of 1739m above sea level. The temple is approximately 8 hours’ drive on the Buli-Khomshar farm road from Zhemgang town.  The monastery is an important religious institution in the community, where ancient monastic tradition is taught.


The place where the temple is located is the most revered sites in Khomshar village, supposedly blessed by the visit of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century AD. According to H.E. Khenpo Thubtan Dorji, ‘Guru Rinpoche stayed there for three months and sanctified the sites’. It is also believed that Buddhist masters like Panchen Vimalamitra, the treasurer revealer (Terton) Jurmey Dorji and (Terton) Choki Wangchuk (Guru Chowang, 12h century) also visited the sites.

The actual Dongag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery is fairly a new temple, just about 13 years since its establishment in 2004 by H.E. Khenpo Thubtan Dorji, a disciple of late Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche (Penor Rinpoche, 1932-2009). It is one branch of Palyul Monastery of the Nyingmapa school and the first of its kind in the country. Initially, the monastery started off in tents and later in 2005 a one-storey building was constructed with support from Khomshar community and well-wishers.

The main purpose of building a monastery is to benefit the sentient beings and for the propagation of the Buddha doctrine. Khenpo Thubtan Dorji said that the monastery was established as per the instructions of his two root teachers, Penor Rinpoche (1932-2009) and the IV Dodrupchen, Jigme Thubtan Palbar Rinpoche (1927-).  Initially, Khenpo was advised to establish a temple at a place that resembles a sleeping elephant at Miling, a huge mountain range, but he could not establish the temple because of the distance from Khomshar village. Secondly, there is no water source at Miling and khenpo had to discard the idea. Thus, once again he consulted his root teachers and built the Dratshang (monastery) at Shawagar, and named it as Dongag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery. The construction of the main building of the monastery began in 2010 and was inaugurated on February 15, 2015. A building with 24 rooms for monks and other meditation facilities are still under construction.

Today, the monastery imparts two different levels of monastic education i.e. dratshang (lower studies) and shedra (higher studies). The monastery is headed by a principal, a lama officially recognised by the Payul head, Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, supported by three Khenpos and two lopons to teach more than a hundred monks.

The monastery is a revered place of pilgrimage and also houses meditation centres for gomchens  (lay-practitioners) who practice meditation and recite mantras.

There are many sacred neys (sites) around the monastery such as: a huge rock considered as a Dolma Phodrang (Tara palace), a Dolma Rang-jon (self-arisen Tara image) recognised by Lama Karma Wangdi in 2014, a Zambalha phodrang (God of wealth Palace),  and a Lha Wangchuck Chenpo’s (God Shiva) phallus.

Toward the east, 60m away from the monastery, one can see a Do Rang-jon stupa (self-arisen stupa) approximately 2.5m tall. According to Khenpo Thubten Dorji, this stupa is one among the three Do Rang-jon stupas (self-arisen chorten) in Khomshar village as per the neyyig (guidebook of  sacred sites.)

Toward the north, about 10m away, are the sacred sites of Sangay Rang-jon (self-appeared historical Buddha) on the rock, Gonpo Maning Ney (a form of Mahakala) which was revealed by Khenpo Tubtan Dorji in 2010,  Tse-Bum (long-life vast), Zhugthri of Lhatsen karpo (sitting throne of local deity), and Khenpo Thubten Dorji’s Chag par (handprint) that miraculously appeared in 2016 while he was praying.

On the summit of the mountain, about 30-45 minutes walk from the monastery, one can reach the Phodrang of Lhatsen Karpo (the palace of the  local deity). Lhatsen Karpo is believed to be one among the prominent ministers of Aum Jomo, another local deity. One can also see the Rang-Jon (self-arisen) Patang (a longsword) and Shub (cover) of Lhatsen Karpo on a rock along with his Zhugthri. Lhatsen karpo is considered to be the  protecting deity of the Khomshar community and has numerous retinues.

Towards the north-west of the monastery, there is a huge rock considered as the Zangdopelri  (the paradise of Guru), a Choepoti Rangjon (self-raisen text), the letter “Om” Rangjon (naturally arisen ‘Om’), and a snake on a rock that represents the subjugation of a demon called Dhue Hala Nagpo  by Guru Rinpoche in the  8th century AD.

Architecture and Artwork

The monastery is built in the traditional Bhutanese architecture. It is built as per the approved design of the culture office of Zhemgang. The three-storey building is constructed using stone, wood, mud, cement, and iron is used only for the  windows.

The mains relics inside the monastery are: the Sang Lham (slipper) of Guru Rinpoche, statues of Cho-long-trul sum (Amitabhava, Guru Rinpoche and Avalokishvara). On the  first floor, in the centre is Oepamey (Amitabhava/Buddha of Limitless Light), on the left is the statue of Guru Rinpoche flanked by Khando Yeshey Tshogyal and Khando Mon Tashi  Kyeuden (the two consorts of Guru), and on the right side the Rigsum Gonpo (Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, & Vajrapani). On the second and third-floors, there are statues of the Gyalwa Ringag (five families of victorious buddhas) and a Kuenzang Yab-Yum (Samantabhadra and consort). All these statues were bought with financial contributions by devotees from Indonesia and Singapore.

The walls are adorned with paintings of Lam Rimjim (lineage holder) of the Payul school, Sangay Menlha (Medicine Buddhas), Dolma Nyishu tsachi (21 Dolma/Tara), Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (founder of Bhutan), Mithrukpa (Akshobya), Chana Dorji (Vajrapani), Dorji Sempa (Vajrasattava), Guru Tshengay (the eight manifestations of Guru Rimpoche), Tshe Lha Namsum (deities of long life: Amitayus, Namgyalma & Green Tara), Throwai Lhatshog (the assembly of the wrathful deities), Zhiwai Lhatshog (the assembly of the peaceful deities) and Tungshagi Lha (the Buddhas of confession). These wall paintings were funded by the government.

Social and Cultural Functions

Many socio-cultural activities like tshechu, chanting prayers, recitations of Kangyur and Tengyur, Cho-bum, daily Soelkha, funeral rites, and others rituals are conducted at the temple. All these rituals are conducted to benefit all the sentient beings, to have a good harvest, to have a seasonal rainfall, and to promote peace and prosperity in the country and the community. These activities are sponsored by the monastery, or by the village communities and individuals, but the big events are always supported by Jindas (patrons) within Bhutan or from abroad i.e, particularly from Singapore and Indonesia. Some of the major socio-cultural activities that are organized at the monastery are:

  • Dechen Zhingdrup (Amitabha ceremony): The seven day Dechen Zhingdrup is one of the celebrated events of the monastery every year. It is presided over by Khenpo Thubtan Dorji, along with monks of the monastery. It attracts many devotees not only from Khomshar, but also from nearby villages and Dzongkhags. There is no such fixed date, but usually it is held annually between the 11th month and the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar. It is conducted during the winter season to avoid a clash of  timing with other annual zhingdrup rituals across the region. The Khomshar community has always sponsored this event ever since it was started.
  • Phurpai Chokha (Kilaya ritual) and Tordok (offering to avert calamities) is another major event of the monastery. It is usually completed before the Dechen zhingdrup.
  • Yarney (summer retreat): during the summer, Khenpos, lopens and monks of the monastery also celebrate the summer retreat for 45 days.
  • A ritual on Zhabdrung Kuchoe (the death anniversary of Zhabdrung Rinpoche) is performed on the 10thday of the 3rd Bhutanese month. This ritual was conducted ever since the establishment of the temple.
  • A ritual on Duechen Ngazom (Buddha’s Parinirvana) is conducted on the 15thday of the 4th Bhutanese month.
  • Kangso, a ritual for appeasement of the protective deities, is held in the 8thmonth of the Bhutanese calendar.
  • Lhabab Duchen (the descending day of Buddha) one-day Tsechu on the 9th month of Bhutanese of calendar.

At present, there are a total of 100 monks. The regular curricula of the school include reading, recitation of daily prayers, Choekey grammar and poetry, mask dances, mandala drawings, chanting of sacred rituals, use of ceremonial instruments, art of making sacrificial and ritual cakes, and meditation. In the near future, Khenpo Thubten Dorji, the founder of the monastery has plans to establish a Drubdra (meditation centre).

Key Informants

Khenpo Thubtan Dorji (48), founder and chairperson of Donagag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery.

Khenpo Leki Tandin (37), principal of Donagag Wosel Dargyelng Monastery.


Sangay Phuntshok, Associate Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, RUB, 2018.

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