Chuzar Lhakhang


Chuzar Lhakhang under Samar Gewog in Haa District is the abode of the local protector deity called Boetsen. According to local people, Boetsen is believed to be a very powerful deity who swiftly bestows his protection to anyone who seeks it.

The single storied temple sits at an elevation of 3,000 metres. The temple is connected by a feeder road, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the Thimphu-Haa Primary National Highway junction from a place called Giruna under Eusu Gewog. The privately owned lhakhang is located on the upper part of the Pagyelkha village. It was built in the Bhutanese traditional architectural style with a beautiful utse (central tower) and gyeltshen (victory banner) on top of the roof.


The oral history of Chuzar Lhakhang dates back to the 16th century. According to Lama Sangay Dorji, the caretaker, the temple was built by Drupthob Sangay Lungten (སངས་རྒྱས་ལྷུན་བསྟན།), a Buddhist saint who visited Bhutan from Tibet in around the 16th century to propagate Buddhism. He is believed to have chosen the location for the temple while meditating on a three-layered rock dogithri (stone throne) below Gayrungna village near the Haa chu, where the Giru Zam (bridge) is located today.

According to Lama Sangay Dorji, the drupthob’s journey started from Gayrungna village towards Sangkiri village under Eusu Gewog, which is 25 minutes’ walk from the present temple. When he reached a place called Gangkugang, which is around 20 minutes’ walk from the present lhakhang towards the north, the local demon displayed miracles (བདུད་ཀྱི་ཆོ་འཕྲུལ) to disrupt his journey. However, people are not sure whether it was Boetsen or some other but the drupthob managed to subdue the demon through his spiritual powers. In the vicinity of the temple today, visitors can see many remarkable signs of the drubthob’s accomplishments (གྲུབ་རྟགས) such as body prints, footprints, ritual cakes and lama’s zhugthri (stone seat) on the rocks. It is also said that the small stream of Jojo Lungpa, which runs from the northern side of the lhakhang, was also blessed by the drupthob as Tshechu (longevity water). Whoever drinks the water from the stream is believed to purify their sins and defilements.

Another interesting story connected to the temple is that when the drupthob reached a place called Bameygang which is a few minutes’ walk from the present temple towards the north, there is a huge stone slab. The drupthob identified it as a copper treasure full of water (ཆུ་གང་གི་ཟངས་གཏེར). It is said that even today, when one hits it with a rock, it is believed to produce the sound of a copper cauldron. Therefore, the name of the place was derived from it, ‘Chuzang’ literally meaning ‘copper water’. The temple was named Chuzar Lhakhang, meaning temple on the copper cauldron.

Lama Sangay Dorji further narrates that when Lama Sangay Lungten sat on the stone slab, the sun was miraculously encircled by a rainbow, which was interpreted as a good omen for the construction of a temple. He thought that he had reached his destined place and built the one-storied temple near the stone slab.

However, according to Lama Sangay Dorji, the original temple built by the drupthob was believed to have been damaged by the fire. The present temple is believed to have been built later but the walls of the original temple can still be seen today.

During the annual Phurpai Tordog (Vajra-kilaya ritual), they make offerings at this particular site to appease the local deity.  At the present location, one can see a huge cypress tree behind the temple believed to be the phodrang (palace) of the local deity Boetsen.

Every year, during the annual Phurpai Tordog (Vajra- Kilaya ritual), which coincides with the Haap Chungdu festival, local people also make offerings to their local deity.

Lineage Holders of the Lhakhang

In Bhutan, religious hereditary nobles are called Choeje or Dungjud. However, the lineage holders of Chuzar Lama are distinctively called Lam Tshen (lama’s lineage holders). According to oral history, the family of Chuzar Lhakhang traces its lineage to the 16th century Tibetan Drupthob Sangay Lhuenten. It is believed that the drupthob had four sons. Today, his descendants (Lam Tshen gyudpa) make up around ten households. There are around four households in Sangkiri village, two households in Tsulakha village in Eusu Gewog and three households in Purduna village in Samar Gewog.  However, there is apparently no written document on the lineage and names of the past lamas.

Lama Sangay Dorji who is from the lineage holders of Lama Sangay Lungten said that eight to nine lamas may have preceded him. It is also said that until recent times, the lhakhang was taken care of by the gomchens (lay practitioners) who are the direct descendants of Lam Tshen. Today, any family member of Lam Tshen, who completes monastic education from the central monastic body and has good personal qualities, can become the resident lama and take on the responsibility of the temple. The post of the resident lama is not determined by the father-son relationship, but by the educational qualification and competence.

Architecture and Artwork

Chuzar Lhakhang is one-storied and built in the traditional Bhutanese architecture with a beautiful utse (central tower) and gyeltshen (victory banner) on top of the roof. The main temple is one room big enough for only 7 to 10 people. It is believed that the main temple was not even touched when expansion took place some fifty years ago. To accommodate more people, especially during ceremonial functions, a living room and a kitchen were added. The walls of the lhakhang were built using traditional masonry.

According to Lama Sangay Dorji, today, the lhakhang is not big enough, especially for the annual ritual and other functions. Therefore, the expansion work has been approved by the government. The renovation of the temple will begin soon without hampering the original design and its artistic features.

The two stonewalls inside the main temple are plastered with mud and covered with beautiful murals. On the right are Cheku Dorji Chang (Vajradhara Buddha), Drupthobs (Saints) and founder Lama Sangay Lungten. On the left are Jangchub Tungsha (thirty-five confessional Buddhas), Guru Tshengay (eight manifestations of Gurus), Gongdue Lhatsho (images of Abhipraya Samaja), Phurpai Lhatshog (wrathful Buddhas), and Tshering Choenga (five sisters of long life).

Main Relics/ Nangtens of the Lhakhang

The main temple contains the statues of Tenpa Shachathupa (present Buddha), Guru Rinpoche (second Buddha), Tshepamey (Buddha Amitayus), Goem Chamdrel Sum (Yeshi Gyempo, Palden Lhamo and Legon Jarog Dongchen), and Boetsen (local deity). It is believed that all the statues were sculpted by the Drupthob himself and in order to have a strong foundational base for the statues, the srog shing (a piece of wood vertically placed inside the stupa) of all the statues were also attached to the main Singye thri (lion’s throne).

Among the main relics, the lhakhang also has two sacred phurpas (Vajrakila daggers). One dagger is believed to have flown from Tibet and the other is believed to be the ter phur (treasure) of Drupthop Sangay Lungten. These sacred relics are displayed to the public only during the annual Phurpai Tordog to pay homage to the founder and to ward off evil deeds and thoughts.

Social and Cultural Functions

Religious rituals are common in Bhutan. At Chuzar Lhakhang, the Lam Tshen gyudpa (lineage holders) upholds the tradition of organising a series of religious functions for the wellbeing of the people and the country.

– On the 15th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar, the lineage holders perform lamai kuchoe (death anniversary of Lama Sangay Lhuenten) to pay homage to the founding lama.

– On 15th day of the 4th month of the Bhutanese calendar, they conduct a Phangpai Neten Chudruk (ritual of the 16 Arahats) for the wellbeing of the king, country and the people.

– On the 4th day of the 6th month of the Bhutanese calendar, the gyudpas (lineage holders) of Lam Tshen conduct a Nyungne (fasting and prayers) with the community.

– Every year, from the 27th to the 29th day of the 10th Bhutanese month, the lineage holders of Lam Tshen, led by the lama, perform the annual Phurpai Tordog (Vajra- Kilaya ritual) with around eight to ten gomchens (lay practitioners). It is the most important religious ceremony of the year.


Lama Sangay Dorji, 48-year-old


Dechen Tshering, Associate Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa