Dorikha Lhakhang


The two-storied Dorikha Lhakhang or Dorikha Chokhording Lobdra (monastic school) is located in Dorikha village under Samar Gewog in Haa District at the elevation of 2,900 metres. The lhakhang is located on a mountain slope above Dorikha village and stands right above the Haa-Samtse highway. The place can be reached through a road from Haa- Chuzom highway or Haa-Paro bypass through Chelela. For those travelling from Chelela bypass, it takes approximately an hour’s drive from Haa town.


Some of the elderly people from Dorikha village believe that the site of the present temple was blessed by the visit of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century AD. According to the oral history, it is believed that Dorikha village is in the shape of dorji (Vajra) and the present lhakhang is on the tip of the dorji. Therefore, it is said that the name of the lhakhang and village was derived from the word ‘Dorjikhar’, meaning ‘village or the temple on top of Vajra’. However, today, it is called Dorikha village or Dorikha Goenpa, which is a corrupted version of dorji.

An unofficial single-side written document maintained by Lama Thinley Dorji mentions that a small Dorikha lhakhang was initially located below Dorikha village at a place called Paydhar Gang, which is 15 minutes’ walk from the present temple. However, there is no detailed information on the structure and nangten (relics) of the previous lhakhang.

It is believed that, towards the end of the 18th century, one of the Paro Rinpung Drungyigs (clerk) known as Tshering Phuntsho and a gup (village head) whose name was Dawa Tenzin hailing from Samar Gewog constructed a new lhakhang at the present location.

Later, the lhakhang was renovated by Lama Sherab Tharchen of Dorithasa village under Gakiling Gewog in the late 19th century. The history also says that the 49th Je Khenpo Rigzin Nyinpo (reign: 1903–1907) from Dorikha village lived in the lhakhang and blessed the place.

The document also narrates that, despite its size and form, Guru Rinpoche had a prophecy that Langpo Norbugang Lhakhang in Samar Gewog, Dorithasa Lhakhang in Gakiling Gewog, Ani Lhakhang, Neyjin Lhakhang of Sambay Gewog, and Dorikha Lhakhang in Samar Gewog are important and strategically located temples in Haa meant to propagate Buddhism in the region.

It is also believed that, due to their strategic location and their importance, all the five lhakhangs were renovated by Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji (1905-1931) and the 5th Zhabdrung Sungtrul Choglay Yeshi Ngedup (1851-1917). But again, it cannot be ascertained when and how the renovation was done.

Until 2003, the lhakhang was owned by the community and it was looked by a konyer (caretaker) appointed by the community. However, in 2003, the temple was offered to the Central Monastic Body and turned into a monastic school.

Today, the school has a lama, 14 students and two lopens (teachers). The old lhakhang was severely damaged by the earthquake in 2011 and the entire structure was rebuilt by the government in 2016. The construction was fully completed in the year 2020.

According to Lama Thinley Dorji, the nearby area is considered sacred as a ney (sacred site) of Guru Rinpoche. If one goes further from the temple towards Tergola mountain pass, one can see the hoof mark of Guru Rinpoche’s riding horse and a mark on the rock which Guru Rinpoche made with his sword. From Dorikha Lhakhang, one can also see Jabar Gonpa, Tsondru Gonpa, Darkala and Kilaila on the opposite side.

Architecture and Artwork

The two-storied Dorikha Lhakhang sits on a gentle slope and is a testimony to the remarkable Bhutanese architecture and masonry. It has a beautiful utse (central tower) and sertog (pinnacle) on the roof. The stunning view of the main temple can be seen by travellers on the Haa-Samtse highway. It is surrounded by a u-shape drasha (monk hostels).

On the first floor, walls are adorned with beautiful mural paintings of Phurpai Lhatshog (wrathful Vajrakilas) and Guru Dragmar Lhatshogs (paintings of wrathful red guru). Inside the second floor, walls are decorated with beautiful paintings of Guru Tshengey (eight manifestations of Guru), Phagpai Neten Chudruk (16 Arhats), and Zhabdrung Phuensum Tshogpa (Zhabdrung and his lineage).

Main Relics/ Nangtens of the Lhakhang

The first floor of the temple is a Mithrugpa (Akshobya) Lhakhang. The main relic of the temple is a Mithrugpa (Akshobya), and on the right side Zhabdrung, Jetsun Dolma (Tara), Dorji Sempa (Vajrasattva), and on the left, the statues of three protectors called Rigsum Gonpo (Manjushri, Vajrapani and Avalokiteshvara) are preserved. On the second floor, the temple called Sangay lhakhang has Tenpa Shachathupa (present Buddha) while placed on the right is Guru Rinpoche (second Buddha) and on the left Tshepamey (Amitayus) as the nangten (relics) of the temple. The wooden shelves on the sides of the temple contain the Kanjur texts (Buddhist Canon).

The place also has a large Guru Tshengey Thongdrol (a large thangka or painting of the Eight Manifestations of Guru) as a relic.

Social and Cultural Functions

Many religious functions are conducted at Dorikha in different months.

– Every year on the 10th day of the 2nd month of the Bhutanese calendar, they perform Trelda Tshechu (religious ceremony).

– From the 11th to 15th day of the 4th month, monks of Dorikha Gonpa and the gomchens (lay practitioners) of Dorikha village recite Kanjur (Buddhist canon).

– Nyungney (fasting prayers) is conducted from the 29th and 30th of the 5th month till the 1st day of the 6th month of the Bhutanese calendar.

– The monks also observe all other important national religious events such as Lhabab Duechen (the descending day of Lord Buddha), Zhabdrung Kuchoe (death anniversary of Zhabdrung Rinpoche) Duechen Ngazom (Buddha’s Parinirvana), Yarngo Marngo (full-moon day) rituals and other offerings are performed annually as per the dates reflected on the calendar.



Lama Thinley Dorji

Phurpa Paljor, Caretaker


Researcher & Photographer

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