Nangla Lhakhang


Nangla temple is located on top of a gentle hill, which is part of a mountain ridge where the village of Nangla Trong is located. The temple is considered to be the most significant temple of the community, and it is the first temple that is visible from the road as one enters Nangla village. The community road that leads up to the temple is the gewog road that connects Panbang town to Ngangla and Bjoka gewogs.

There are five different houses built around the temple. Three of the houses are for the representatives of the different groups of people in the community. A smaller house right below the temple is the residential house of the caretaker, and the big stone house a little further down is the ancestral house of the village nobility called the Koche.


The date of the construction of the temple is not known, but the area was for a long time affiliated with the Sumthrang Choejes of Ura in Bumthang. The local people do not know when and who built the temple.

Initially, the community renovated the temple in 1970, and later in 2009, CGI sheets replaced the wooden shingles with assistance from the then Labor Secretary Dasho Sonam Tenzin.  Minor repair such as plastering of walls is carried out as and when needed.

The three different groups of people: Brela, Bjarpa and Lhamanpa have a minimum of 45 households each. The three houses near the temple and the land used for cultivation do not belong to one particular owner, but are shared by these three social groups. The land and the houses are used on rotation every three years. This unique system allows every household of the three different social groups a chance to own the houses and land temporarily. Traditionally, the houses were made from bamboos and banana leaves thatched roofs; however, the government has, recently, built the houses with wood, cement and roofed with CGI sheets.  One family residing in those three houses is responsible in turn to initiate the activities conducted in the temple.

Architecture and Artwork

Nangla temple is a traditional house built of stone, mud and wood. The roof of the temple has three tiers with a golden pinnacle. The temple walls are plastered with mud, and traditional method of plastering is used. Wooden planks are used for flooring inside the temple, and unlike most temples there are three central wooden beams supporting the ceiling. According to oral source, the temple had two small central wooden beams, but later one more central beam was added when the temple was extended during its renovation in the 1970s.

The main room is portioned into two different rooms, and one is used as the main altar and other as a goenkhang (room of the protecting deities). The main altar has a statue of Chugchizhey (11-faced Avalokiteshvara) on the left side, followed by a statue of Tandin (Hayagriva), Buddha and Guru Rinpoche with his two consorts. A statue of Chana Dorji (Vajrapani), a small Buddha, and two more Buddhas also adorn the main altar. Other smaller statues, offered by the locals, are also displayed in the main altar.

The temple also has a large thangka of Buddha (Thongdrel) donated by the 5th King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck in 2015.  The 5th King did not visit the Lhakhang, but the then Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay paid a visit to present the king’s gift.

Beside the main room there is a small room, which holds an old prayer wheel. There are no records or knowledge about the exact date of the construction of the temple, but the cracks in the plaster and the aging woods in the temple indicate that the temple was constructed several generations ago.

The small ground around the temple is leveled and is surrounded by stone walls. This ground is used to perform annual rituals. There are two points of entry to the temple ground, one east of the temple and another to the west. These entrances are small gates made of stone and cement plastering.  Near each entrance, there is an old whitewashed stone stupa.

Social and Cultural Functions

The temple‘s activities are usually conducted by lay-practitioners from the village, headed by a Mishi Lama. The major religious activities of the year are: Sertam, Derchoed, Gyedpa tsechu, and Choedpala.

  • Sertam, a ritual to appease gods and keep away destruction (caused by wild animals and nature on their land) is conducted on the 10th day of the 1st Bhutanese month. In this ritual, an interesting practice of blowing a conch shell is believed to stop hailstorms throughout the year. Community people also serve visitors Karchu, watery buckwheat flour with local wine/bangchang.
  • Derchoedis conducted from the 8th to the 10th day of the 5th month of the Bhutanese calendar. The Choe-bum, the hundred thousand verses of Buddha, is read for two days and tsechu rites are conducted on the third day.
  • Gyedpa tsechu is performed on the9th and 10th of the 8th month of the Bhutanese calendar.  The celebration of Gyedpa Tsechu is strictly reserved for the lay practitioners and there are no local priests. A Choesung solkha or ritual to appease local deities is conducted for two days.
  • Choedpala is conducted from the evening of the 14thday to the 17thday of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar. As it is the community’s annual festival, mask dances are performed and it is a celebration of the saint Pema Lingpa’s arrival in the region. Besides, there are also rituals conducted by a Bonpo and a Pawo (shaman) during the four-day celebration. The monks perform rituals inside the temple, while the Pawo (shaman) perform it in the temple courtyard and the Bonpo at the Lhabrang, a small bamboo altar, which is below the temple, on a lower hill.

Majority of these functions are performed by lay-practitioners in the temple. Outside the temple, the Bonpo and Pawo worship the local deities and make offerings, perform rituals, and other festivities according to their traditions.

For these social and cultural functions, the active household serving the three-year tenure takes care of collecting things for the offerings, and also takes care of the people who come with their offerings.


Bumpa, Former Gup (2001 -2002)


Pommaret, Françoise (2017). “Finding Yarlung in South-central Bhutan. Myths, migrations and society: The community of Ngangla Trong in Lower Kheng.” in Bentley Jenny (ed.), Series 2, The Dragon and the Hidden Land: Social and Historical Studies on Sikkim and Bhutan. Bulletin of Tibetology Volume 50 Number 1 & 2, 17-52.

Pommaret, Françoise (2015). “The Community of Ngangla Trong” in Karma Phuntsho (ed.), Twilight of Cultures. Tradition and Change in four Rural Communities in Bhutan, Thimphu: Helvetas, 13-49.


Sonam Nyenda, Associate Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2018

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