Goenpong Lhakhang


Goenpong lhakhang (temple) is located on a hill top above the desolate Tunglabi village. It is surrounded by fallow paddy fields opposite the new settlement of Bardo village. It is located approximately 120 km south of Zhemgang town, and about 30 minutes’ drive from the road junction.


There is no historical, or written evidence to show when it was built, or who built the temple.

According to oral sources, at one point in time Tunglabi settlement was on a ridge and around Goenpong temple, but today there is not a single household to be found. The informant said that because of the Tunglabi settlement being on a hill, it must have posed difficulties to the villagers. Therefore, the people started migrating to different places, and some settled in a new location and this new settlement came to be known as Bardo. Currently, Goenpong temple sits on a hill that overlooks the desolate Tunglabi village.

The informants said that after the villagers from Tunglabi migrated to different places, there was no one to take care of the temple. Thus, the Goenpong lhakhang over time became dilapidated, it became overgrown with grass and eventually was covered by trees.

About 70 years ago, a couple by the name of Sonam and his wife Gyemo took the initiative to rebuild the temple and the villagers of Bardo also partook in rebuilding the temple. Later, their son Drakpa and his wife Yangden restored and redid the wall paintings in the temple. Later, the grandson of the family, Dorji Penjor inherited the temple.

Although Dorji Penjor inherited the temple, there was no one to perform the rituals in times of sickness and death; thus, the villagers and the present owner, Dorji Penjor offered the temple to the spiritual teacher Lama Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 2012. In the same year, Lam Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche established a Dratshang (Monastic Institution) that follows the Nyingma tradition and he renamed the temple as Tashi Chhoeling Lhakhang, which is an auspicious sign. At present, there are 15 monks studying in the temple.

Architecture and Artwork

The Goenpong lhakhang was built on the ruins of the old temple. The temple is a two-storey traditional Bhutanese building mostly built of stones. The main altar is on the first floor, which consists of only one room and the ground floor is used as storage.

The main relics in the temple are Guru Tsho Khor Sum (Guru- Rinpoche and his two consorts Mendarawa and Yeshey Tshogyel). There is also an urn, which is considered as the main relic of temple. The urn was found during the reconstruction of the temple.

On the right side of the altar, there are wall paintings of Guru Tshen Gye (Eight Manifestation of Guru Padmasambhava) and Dolma (Tara). On the left side, there are wall paintings of Chukchizhay (11-faced Avalokiteshvara) and Tungsha (the Buddhas of confession).

Social and Cultural Functions

Earlier when it was a privately-owned temple, the owner/custodian used to conduct a one-day festival on the 10th day of the 8th month of the Bhutanese calendar. The villagers used to partake in the celebration. But now, except for the daily prayers by the monks, no social and/or cultural activities take place in the temple.


Dorji Penjor, 79, owner of the temple

Sonam Phuntsho, 67, ex-Chimi (ex People représentative)


Yonten Norbu, Asst. Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa,

Royal University of Bhutan, 2018  

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)