Wadang Lhakhang


Wadang lhakhang is located in the centre of Wadang village, covering around 60 decimal land area. It is half a kilometre down from the Bardo gewog centre, and it is approximately 65km from Kheng Buli. It is accessible by a feeder road.


According to oral sources, the present Wadang Lhakhang was initially called Wodog lhakhang, which means “the stone beneath.” It is believed that unique stones similar to turquoise were laid as flooring inside the temple.

Legend has it that the construction of Wadang lhakhang is contemporaneous with that of Samye monastery, a temple built by the Tibetan Dharma King Trisong Deutsen in Tibet in the 8th century AD. The informant said that a divination told the Tibetans to construct the Wodog lhakhang at Mon-yul (southern land referring to Bhutan). As foretold, a group of Tibetans led by a Tibetan Lama came to Bhutan and built the temple at Wadang. The Wadang community calls the temple as Boedpai lhakhang (Tibetan temple), since this lhakhang was built by the Tibetans.

Venerable Khenpo Thubtan Dorji and Khenpo Leki Tandin also believe that Wadang lhakhang was built around the same time as Samye monastery in Tibet. Therefore, it could be construed that Wadang lhakhang was constructed in the 8th century AD.  Aum Wangmo’s (one of the informants) ancestors were once the caretaker of the lhakhang.

The informant said that the temple was badly damaged by fire in 1979 and was abandoned for almost 16 years. It seemed that many misfortunes and illnesses broke out in the village, and the community could not understand why there was much suffering in the village. Later, they sought divination to understand their problem and they were informed that sicknesses and misfortunes were all because of having neglected the temple for so long.  Thus, the community convened and renovated the temple in 1995.

Aum Wangmo mentioned that she witnessed the fire that razed the temple to the ground in 1979. Often times, she would see a huge snake entering the temple, but it never harmed anybody. She also claims that while the renovation was in progress, the villagers saw one black and one red serpent underneath a mound of stones inside the temple. One time, the two serpents tried to enter her house and some neighbour’s house, but they chased the serpents away to a place where there was no human habitation. The informant also mentioned Lopen Sherub Dorji (a lay practitioner)who once had a dream of snakes and the snakes supposedly voiced that they were not given proper hospitality and that they were driven away to an impure place. He surmised that the snakes were trying to communicate their message, and hence, he instructed the community to expedite the renovation of the temple.

Some of the old relics of the temple were divided amongst Aum Wangmo’s family members, while some were lost in the fire tragedy. At present, the temple has an original copy of a Tochog (Healing ritual text). New statues like Vajrapani (Chanadorji), the historical Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, and Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) were installed after the renovation. There is a separate Goenkhang (Chapel) of the protective deity Palden Lhamo (Mahakali) attached to the temple.

A few meters before one reaches the temple, there are two rocks, which are believed to be Pho (male rock) and Mo (female rock). According to the caretaker, the belief is that if these two rocks are hit or disturbed, there would be instant rain and hailstone. Therefore, they refrain from hitting these two rocks.

Architecture and Artwork

Initially, the informant said that the temple was built in the Tibetan style, but during the renovation, a two-storey building in traditional Bhutanese design was built, of which half is used as a residence and the other half is used as a temple. The present temple looks like an ordinary Bhutanese house without any paintings. The temple has a Mani dungkor (prayer wheel), a big drum, a place for the deity Lu (Naga), and there is a medium-sized chorten (stupa) near the temple.

The relics inside the temple are: a pair of Norbu Sili Rawo (rhino horns), Langmochegi Chewa (a pair of elephant tusks), statues of Zambala (God of Wealth), Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and Chenrezig (the god of compassion, Avalokiteshvara). Guru Rinpoche’s footprint, religious texts such as a Sergi legbam (Religious text written in gold), a Tochog (Healing ritual text), and a Gyetongpa (Prajnaparamita in Eight Thousand Verses) were said to have been brought from Tibet.

Social and Cultural Functions

There are various events and socio-cultural functions held at the temple. The following are some annual events performed at the temple:

  • Nyungney (fasting and prayers practice) is conducted for four days on the 1st month of the Bhutanese calendar, depending on the sponsors.
  • Regular offering of Soelkha (libation to the Dharma protectors) is conducted every day.
  • Yar-ngo and Mar-ngo are conducted on the 10th  and  25th day of the Bhutanese month.
  • One day Tshechu is also celebrated in the 6th month of the Bhutanese calendar. Monks and lay practitionners of the Nyingma tradition perform the tshechu.

Key Informants

H.E. Khenpo Thubtan Dorji Rinpoche, founder of Dongag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery, Khomshar

Khenpo Leki Tandin, 37, Principal, Dongag Wosel Dargyeling Monastery, Khomshar

Mr. Khandu, 69, caretaker

Aum Wangmo, 65, caretaker


Jamyang Sonam, Assistant Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2018

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)