Purdung Lhakhang


Purdung Lhakhang is located on the other side of the river facing Jenkana village on the Thimphu-Haa Primary National Highway. The newly built two-storied temple is built in the traditional Bhutanese architectural style using stones and woods. The temple is connected by road and can be reached in about a 5 minutes’ drive from the highway while it takes about 20-25 minutes on foot. The majestic view of the lhakhang is clearly visible from the Jenkana village. The village has a population of about 300 people and the main language spoken is Dzongkha. With roads connecting the village, developmental activities are taking place and the living standard of people have improved over the years.


The 300 years old Purdung lhakhang was first built in the 17th century by devotee Ap Gutokarpo (Apa mgo tog dkarpo: གནསཔ་ཨ་པ་མགུ་ཏོག་དཀར་པོ) from Haa Sombaykha with the installation of almost every religious artifacts. He was not an ordinary man. He is believed to be the illegitimate son of Samtse’s local deity Aum Dramzop.

According to the brief documentary history of Lhakhang maintained by the temple, Guru Rinpoche’s riding horse Bhalaha’s (རྟ་མཆོག་བྷ་ལ་ཧའི་སྤུར་གདུང་) corpse is buried under the horse lake (རྟ་མཚོ) as a hidden treasure below the temple. Thus the name of the temple came to be known as the Purdung Lhakhang (སྤུར༌གདུང་) “the temple of the corpse”. Some people in the village call it Purdungna (སྤུར་གདུང་ནང་ལྷ་ཁང་།) as they believe that the corpse of Guru Rinpoche’s riding horse is inside the lhakhang. Some also calls it Puduna lhakhang. However according to the document in the temple, it is called as Purdung Lhakhang. The Lhakhang had been the main place for the local people to do their annual offerings and to organize the funeral rites.

Despite repeated maintenance works carried out by the villagers, the 300 years old lhakhang has remained susceptible to natural disasters in the absence of a major renovation. In 2017 Chuzar lam Sangay Dorji and local people planned to carry out a major renovation. With the help of ngultrum 5 million from the royal government and additional financial support from the people, the renovation works began in 2018 and was completed in 2020. The two storied lhakhang got furthur adorned with traditional carvings and paintings. It was inaugurated by the Dorji Lopen of Zhungdratshang Venerable Sonam Jamtsho on the auspicious day on 12th day of 9th month of the Bhutanese calendar in the year of female iron ox on 17th October 2021. Similar to the previous structure, the renovated temple is two storied with the first floor consisting of a main shrine, a shrine for the local deity and a guest room while on the ground floor, the assembly hall (du khang: འདུ་ཁང་།) exists. Today the temple is the main place for people to conduct their regular offerings and funeral rites.

The Haa chu flows in front of the lhakhang and it is believed that the river is blessed with eight qualities of water and serves as the natural offering to the lhakhang.  The river flows from the Mount Jomolhari, the second highest mountain in Bhutan (7,326 m). It is believed that the mountain is the abode of five Tsheringma sisters-female protector goddesses (Jomo) of Tibet and Bhutan. That is why the river is considered very sacred for the lhakhang. Today the lhakhang is taken care of by a caretaker who has a residence next to it.

Successive lams/ Lineage Holders of the Lhakhang

The Lhakhang is for the people of Puduna village but does not have any lams from there. It is under the supervision of Chuzar Lam Sangay Dorji, the 9th Lam Tshen (lama’s lineage holders) of Chuzar Lhakhang. Chuzar Lhakhang is privately owned lhakhang which is located on the upper part of the Pagyelkha village. It is about 20 minutes’ drive from the Thimphu-Haa Primary National Highway from a place called Girina under Eusu Gewog. There is no clear information about how the Purdung lhakhang came under Chuzar Lam’s supervision. However, according to oral history, the Tibetan Drupthob Sangay Lungten who founded the Chuzar Lhakhang in 16th century had four sons and today there are ten households of their descendants. Amongst ten households, there are three households in Puduna village. This could be the reason for the attribution of supervision by the Chuzar Lam but there is no information or written documents on this. People believe that it might be because of the fact that the lhakhang falls under the same chiwog.

Any religious activities in the Lhakhang are carried out by the Chuzar Lam’s lineage for a long time and today it is done by the 9th Chuzar Lam. Chuzar Lam Sangay Dorji presides over the annual offerings and the Bumdey ritual with lay pratitioners of the village.

Main Relics/ Nangtens of the Lhakhang

The main relic in the main shrine of the temple is the statue of Guru Pema Jungney which is about 5 feet tall and a gold written Buddhist canon (བཀའ་འགྱུར་གསེར་བྲིས་མ) that is believed to be 300 years old. Today the statue appears afresh and new since it underwent repair due to damage. There are also other statues installed. On the right of Guru Rinpoche, there are statues of the his eight manifestation with Khandro Yeshey Tshoyal and Lhacham Mendarawa. The statues of the eight manifestations are not large in size. They are all 9 inches made from copper and gold painted. There is also a statue of Amitayus (Tshepamey). On the left there is the statue of Zhabdrung Phuensum Tshogpa. The other room is the shrine of the local deities Jo Bjama Tshen and Tsheringma. People seek blessing from them whenever they execute any important work or decision.

Blessed water (Drupchu)

There is blessed water below the temple. It was earlier believed to be very close to the temple. However people believe that with increasing defilements, it moved to the present location although the exact date or time cannot be ascertained. It is also not known who discovered it first.

Social and Cultural Functions

There is an annual Bumdey for four days from the 6th to the 9th day of the 7th month of the Bhutanese calendar.  Nyungney (སྨྱུང་གནས་ཆ་གཉིསཔ) fasting and prayers is conducted from the 6th to the 8th day and tshogkhor on the 9th. The event is sponsored by the local people on a rotational basis of 7 households at a time. The rotation modality is decided by the Lhakhang Committee. Lay practitioners (gomchens) and old aged people participate in the nyungney, but all the people participate in the final day of tshogkhor. This is performed for the blessing to people for good health, happiness, timely rainfall and for the good harvest of crops. This is the time people thank their local deities Jo Jama Tshen and Tsheringma for blessing them and also to get their blessings for a good year ahead.

Evolution and change/potential challenges for survival

The temple is newly built and there are no challenges in its physical structures. There is a separate residence for the caretaker and the annual event is well planned.



Tashi Dorji, 54, Caretaker, 17747199

Chuzer Lam Sangay Dorji, 17631331


Nidup Gyeltshen, Associate Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa

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