Kheng Buli Khar Lhakhang/Bar lhakhang


Khar Lhakhang is a community-owned temple located in the middle of Buli village, Zhemgang. It is a one-story temple built in Bhutanese traditional architecture with a pinnacle. The junction to Buli Khar Lhakhang is at Dakpai, 15 km east of Zhemgang on the Zhemgang–Tingtibi highway, and with an additional 39 km feeder road travel from Dakpai. The temple is a further five-minute walk from Buli Forest Beat Office, Zhemgang Forest Division, Department of Forest and Park Services.


Kheng Buli Khar Lhakhang (Kheng ‘Bu li mkhar lha khang) is located in the middle of Buli village. The Department of Culture has recorded the monastery as, Khar Lhakhang, meaning the temple built in the place where the Terton (gter ston), treasure discoverer, Pema Lingpa (Pad ma gling pa 1450-1521) who travelled from Bumthang around 1478 pitched his tent. According to the informants, mkhar means house, home of Pema Lingpa. Keeping the importance of the place, Choedrak (chos rje brag) Lam, Sonam Gyeltshen ((bsod nam rgyal mtshan 19th century) built a temple where Pema Lingpa’s house is located so it is also known as Khar Lhakhang.

Pema Lingpa resided there and did blacksmithing as per the local tradition. The circle stone wall, where he used to do blacksmithing, is still seen today. His blacksmithing work included a metal pan for preparing buckwheat pancake (khulay), which has his own thumbprint. Today, it belongs to Phuntsho Dhendup, villager and community elder, who lives near Khar Lhakhang. A bell and vajra attributed to him are kept at Khentrul Garab Dorji’s sister, Phuntsho Wangmo’s house. Khentrul Garab Dorji was appointed as a president of the Mahayana Foundation and overseer of the Mahayana Buddhist Monasteries in Kheng Buli, Rigdrol Lhakhang in Thimphu and Railing Mebar Chhoeling Monastery in Pemagatshel by His Holiness, 68th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choeda.


Oral history records that when Pema Lingpa was doing his blacksmith works in Khar, a lady by the name Tshewang Ki (tshe dbang skyid) used to serve him tea. On one occasion, while Tshewang was walking to serve the tea, she heard a conversation in the tent. However, when she arrived in the tent, she found there is nobody except Pema Lingpa. Pema Lingpa asked the lady if she had seen a lay practitioner (Gomchen) walking out of the tent when she came. She was surprised as she had not encountered anyone on her way. Later, it was said that Guru Rinpoche appeared in Pema Lingpa’s dream and he received the teachings of the Bardo (bar do, teachings of the transition through the intermediate state) from Guru Rinpoche.

In the 19th century, (date not confirmed) Lama Sonam Gyeltshen from Choedrak in Bumthang initiated the construction of the present temple, considering the place as sacred, significant and historical because of Pema Lingpa’s visit and stay over a period of time.

In 2011, due to an earthquake, the temple was severely damaged, and its renovation works were coordinated by the Gewog Administration, local people and Khentrul Rinpoche under the supervision of His Holiness, the 68th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choeda. The renovation works had been completed in the year 2014.


Architecture and Artwork

The entrance gate of the temple is made of wooden blocks and is simple and small without any decoration. The one-story temple was built in Bhutanese traditional design with stone, mud, and woodwork. The temple is surrounded by a wall made of stone and mud around two meters high and one meter wide.

The main relic or the statue of the temple is a Guru Dragmar (གུ་རུ་དྲག་དམར་) and it is believed that the main heart support of the statue is a stone that was supposed to have been squeezed (རྡོ་ཨ་ཁམ་བཅམ་ཡོད) by a lama called Drukdra Choki Rangdrol. A life-size statue of Guru Nangsi Zilnoen has been donated by the government employees of Buli during the restoration of the temple.

On the left side of the main statue, is a statue of Terton Pema Lingpa as well as a thangka of Pema Lingpa. On the right side, there is a statue of Avalokiteshvara with the hands and eyes of one thousand (ཕྱག་སྟོང་སྤྱན་སྟོང་གི་སྐུ) and below it, there is a Guru Rinpoche’s statue. In addition, His Majesty the king offered a life-size figure (Ka Trap) of the Menmo (Mermaid), the protector deity of Buli.

There are also statues of the protectors, Mahakala (Gonpo Maning), Vaisharmana (Namsey Dungmar chen), and Ekajati.

The wall paintings include, Longchen Yabsey sum (Lonchen pa (14th c.) and his two heart sons), Peling Yabsey Sum (Pemalingpa and his heart sons), the cycle of Zhitro Lhatshog (the hundred peaceful and wrathful deities), the eight manifestation of Guru Rinpoche, the paradise of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezi), the paradise of Amitabha (Oepamey), the deity of wealth (Namsey), the Five sisters of longevity (Tshering Chenga), and a painting of Pema Lingpa, as a blacksmith.

Social and Cultural Functions

The temple is used as a place of religious activities for the community. It also hosts the one day reading of the works of Pema Lingpa (Peling Kabum) according to the availability of time.

A festival called a Gomchen tsechu is conducted once in a year and a fasting and prayer ritual (nyungne) is done on the eighth day of the first month of the lunar calendar.

Buli temple also conducts rituals during the descending day of the Lord Buddha, death anniversary of the Zhabdrung Rinpoche and Pema Lingpa.

On the tenth day of the second month of the lunar calendar, and offering called Kewa Chodpa (Potato offering) is conducted, which is an ancient cultural practice in Buli.

In addition, an egg offering called Shubangla is also done during that ritual, Shu means prayer and offering, Bang mean meadow. The offering is made to the local guardian, Menmo and other deities at the meadow located below the Lhakhang on the fifteenth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. All local people of Kheng Buli are involved during the offering, the words of prayers are done by Choechong, caretaker, and lay-practitioner of Khar Lhakhang and the offering of eggs is done by Choni Zangmo, who stays near the place where the Shubangla is carried and hosted.

Choechong, caretaker, and lay-practitioner of Khar Lhakhang
Phuntsho Dhendup, villager and community elder who lives near Khar Lhakhang

Researcher & Photographer
Kinzang Dorji, Asst. Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, RUB, 2017.

(Click on the Thumbnails to view the Photo Gallery)