Buli Khelam Gonpai Lhakhang


Buli Khelam Gonpai Lhakhang is a privately-owned temple, and it is located in Buli Gonpa village. One can reach the lhakhang from the main road point at Tali la. From Tali la, it takes approximately an hour and 40 minutes’ walk downhill into Buli Gonpa Village. The lhakhang sits at an elevation of 1626m above sea level.

Beside the lhakhang, there is a two-storey traditional house with a small kitchen garden.  Lhakhang. Next to the lhakhang are two smaller houses in close proximity—one has a prayer wheel and the other one is used as a kitchen.


The exact date of the construction of the lhakhang is not known. However, the oral source said that Beyul Lama Sacha Yoezer, the reincarnation of Lama Zhang, set up a hermitage on the present site of the lhakhang and lived there for some time. Lama’s hermitage was bordered by the hermitages of his six disciples. It was only after the lama’s demise that his six disciples—Bi pong from Rukubji, Tshering Wangchuk, Goshu Pong from Kheng Goshing, Thashong Tham from Kheng Thashong, Wangla ba from Wama and Jampali Pang from kurtoe—built a small one-storey Lhakhang. It is also believed that Beyul Lama Sacha Yoezer recognized the place in a state of meditation, and hence he supposedly blessed the place Buli Gonpo.

Legend has it that when the lama was meditating in the cave at Gomphu, he told his attendant not to open the door of his hermitage for three consecutive days and nights. In those three days, it is believed that lama, in a meditative state, had travelled to find the way to Bumthang Buli. Even after three days, when the lama did not open the door, the attendant was worried that his lama might be hungry or thirsty, and thus he peeped through a hole on the door. But to his astonishment, the attendant saw a peacock waving his one feather, which apparently signify the return of the lama from his meditative expedition.

The lhakhang was renovated twice since the initial construction. The date of the first renovation is not known, but the latter was carried out in the year 1996. The renovation included the actual extension of the temple without demolishing the main structure and repainting the murals inside the temple. Lopen Lham Tshering sponsored the repainting of the wall murals. There was no financial aid from the government for the renovation; and moreover, there was also a shortage of workforce, thus it took almost eleven years to complete the renovation.

Architecture and Artwork

The two-story Lhakhang is built in the traditional Bhutanese architecture with extensive use of woods, mud, and stones, and it is adorned with colorful paintings. The ground floor of the Lhakhang is a storeroom. The first floor has the main altar with a statue of the Buddha flanked by his two chief disciples. On the left side of the Buddha is the statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Lama Zhang, and a clay statue of Lama Sacha Yoezer. And on the right of the Buddha are the statues of Guru Pema Jungney, Amitayus, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, and a reliquary (Kudung Chorten) that contains the bodily remains of Lama Sacha Yoezer.

The walls are covered with paintings of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, three deities of longevity (Amitayus, White Tara, and Namgyalma), or Tse Lha Namsum, Buddha Sakyamuni with his two chief disciples (Maudgalyayana and Shariputra), Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Kunkhyen Pema Karpo, Terton Pema Lingpa, and fifty-eight wrathful and forty-two peaceful deities, Buli Menmo, Buli Lha Tsen Karpo, and Grama-Tsen.

In addition, the Lhakhang also houses a hosts of Drukpa protectors(མགོནམ་ལྕམ་དྲལ་གསམུ), a Terma statue of ferocious Guru (གུ་རུ་དྲག་དམར) – the protector of the Lama Sacha Yoezer, a lifeforce-stone of the deity of Longevity (ཚེ་རིང་མའི་བླ་རྡོ), a treasure stone (གཏེར་མ་རྡོ), cymbals, a ritual dagger, a gong, a religious bell, a hat of lama Sacha Yoezer, an elephant tusk, a skull, a spear, and a pair of small cymbals (ཏིང་ཤག). There are also a hundred thousand verses of Prajnaparamita, twelve Vajrachedika, and eighteen Thangkas of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche

Social and cultural functions

  • On the 10th day of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth month of the Bhutanese calendar, ritual Tsechus are performed.
  • From the 7th -11th day of the eighth month of the Bhutanese calendar, Tsechu is performed for five days. The 10th day is observed as the Kuchoe, or the death anniversary of Lama Sacha Yoezer. On that day people from nearby places such as Buli, Tali, Kikhar, Dakphai also join in the celebration.
  • Besides, the community always conducts the 21st day of the funeral rites of the deceased in the lhakhang.


Norbu Wangchuck, 66, caretaker, Buli Gonpa


Tshering Dema, Associate Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal University of Bhutan, 2019

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)