Samdang Lhakhang


Samdang Temple is located at the centre of Khomshar village, at an altitude of 1262m, adjacent to the Basic Health Unit (BHU).  It is approximately 50m away from Khomshar primary School, located just above the Bardo gewog centre.


No one knows the exact date of the construction of the temple, but the temple is supposedly attributed to Samdang Choeje. According to oral sources, it is said that Samdang Choeje was close to Sombrang Choeje of Bumthang (the exact lineage is not known by the villagers), and that Sombrang Choeje and Samdang Choeje used to perform the annual tsechhu i.e. mask dance, every year on rotation till the late 1990s. Moreover, supernatural performance competitions between two Lamas were held but they could not defeat each other because they had equal powers.

According to KhenpoThubtan Dorji, Samdang Choeje was Khomshar Gapo’s brother. The Gapo looked after the temporal affairs and Samdang Choeje headed the spiritual affairs of the community. Because of the lack of surviving accounts, little is known about the lineage holder’s names in chronological order.  However, it is a fact that Samdang Choeje is still the most influential spiritual lama in the community.

There are two prominent sacred sites nearby the temple called  Langchen Rang-jon Hap (self-arisen elephant nose) on a rock and the phodrang of Molha Samdangphupa (palace of the female local deity). According to Khenpo Leki Tandin, it is because of the Langchen Rang-jon-hap that the place is known as Khomshar Norbuling.  Khomshar is the name of the village, and Norbu, the jewel, is associated with the elephant as this animal is considered to be sacred.  Thus, the village came to be called Khomshar Norbuling.

Architecture and Artwork

The original temple was destroyed by fire. Along with the structure, whatever murals and relics were inside the temple were also completely destroyed.

The existing one-story Bhutanese style temple was built in the late 1990s with stones, wood, mud, and iron. The temple has an altar room and a gathering hall. There are no paintings inside the temple. There is also a small mani-dungkor (prayer wheel) installed inside the temple at the time of reconstruction. In the temple’s neighbourhood there is a stupa, a huge mani-dungkor, and the Khomshar BHU.

The main relics inside the temple are a statue of Guru Loden Chogtse (one manifestation of Guru Rinpoche as the supreme knowledge holder) and a Phurpa (deity of the Ritual dDagger). The other relics which were installed later include statues of Palden Lhamo (female protecting deity), Chenrezig (Avalokiteshavara), Historical Buddha, Guru Padmasambhva, Jamyang (Manjushri /wisdom deity), as well as a mani-dungkhor (prayer wheel).

Social and Cultural Functions

Currently, the temple is under the care of Samdang Choeje’s lineage holder.  The major rituals are performed by the Gomchens (lay-practitioners) of Khomshar and the minor rituals are usually presided over by Lama Mani Nagpo, the head of the lay-practitioners.  The temple follows the Drukpa Kagyu tradition along with a Nyingma tradition called  the Kencho Chidue (Essence of the supreme Jewels). The following days such as the 8th, 10th, 15th, 25th, and the 30th of every month of the Bhutanese calendar are observed as auspicious days and rituals are performed in small groups, and these rituals are either sponsored by the villagers, or by private sponsors.

Key Informants

Khenpo Thubtan Dorji, 47, founder, Donagag Wosel Dargyeling monastery

Khenpo Leki Tandin, 37, principal, Donagag Wosel Dargyeling monastery

Lama Mani Nagpo, 37, lay-practitioner (gomchen), Khomshar


Jamyang Sonam and Sangay Phuntshok, Associate Lecturers, College of Language and Culture Studies, Royal University of Bhutan, 2018.

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)