Sidrak Temple


Bhutan is synonymous to rich cultural heritage (both tangible and intangible) to the world today. Sibcha (srid brag) Lhakhang situated in Sangbaykha Gewog of Haa district is an example of such a heritage in the country. Sangbaykha is one of the remotest gewogs in Haa Dzongkha. The place was blessed by Guru Rinpoche and has many places bearing the footprint, body prints and statues, meditational caves and door to many sacred places; thus, the place came to be known as Sangbaykha (གསང་ secret/sacred སྦས hidden) meaning the place of hidden sacred land. In the olden days, the gewog used to be under the Paro Penlop[1] ‘s jurisdiction rather than the Haa Drungpa[2] and the residents followed the direct instructions – such as the taxation of labour, transactions in kind and cash from the Paro Penlop. Earlier, when there were no motorable road, people had to travel on foot for three days to reach Haa town, however, the situation has changed with the advent of motorable road in the community.


Nakha Trashigang is situated to the west of Gewog Centre and connected by farm road; however, the road is rarely used by the commuters as it is very difficult for the cars to ply on the road.

On foot, Nakha Trashigang takes around one hour of descend to a river and ascend thereafter. The village of around 22 households are sparsely settled and people mainly depend on agriculture and livestock for livelihood, however, the essentials which are not produced in the community is being imported from the nearest market either from Haa or Samtse. Amidst this peaceful settlement, stands a majestic Sibcha Lhakhang (2,176 m). The architecture of the Lhakhang is purely traditional though the roofing is done with CGI sheets.


The Lhakhang is considered one of the most sacred testimonials in the Dzongkhag and is believed to be the abode of Sidra Tsen (Srid brag btsan), the protective deity of the community. In the past, the Lhakhang was a single storey, however, the new Lhakhang being constructed with the financial support of Nu. 50,00,000 from the Royal Government of Bhutan and the rest 50,00,000 from the lama lineage of the Lhakhang is a two-storied structure. The entrance to the top floor of the Lhakhang and the altars inside are all magnificently carved and delivers serene aesthetics to the visitors from within Haa and Paro who come to the Lhakhang to offer their prayers to the deities of the community. The environment and the amenities of the Lhakhang is supposed to extend with plans of constructing a guesthouse, kitchen and hostel for the monks – all in front of the Lhakhang.


The Lhakhang has a statue of Buddha as the main relic. Locals do not exactly know when and who built the statue; however, the Lam of the Lhakhang believes that the statue was built in around seventh century. This belief of statue being so old can be established by looking at the structure and the zung (zungs) and the zungshing (zungs shing) used in the statue.

When the temple was renovated, the main relic which is the statue was also renovated – This is during this act that the old zung of the statue was discovered. The place from where the soil was dug during the building of the statue can still be seen in Tsentogang[3]. The statues of Goenpo Maning and Guru Rinpoche are also believed to have been erected during the time of constructing the Lhakhang. The other relics in the Lhakhang include statues of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Dorji Sempa (Vajrasattva), Chagna Dorji (Vajrapani),  Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara) and volumes of religious canons.

The murals of the Lhakhang shows Chugchizhe (eleven faces of Avalokitesvara), Buddha, Neten Chudru (Sixteen Arhats). There is also a scroll of Phajo Drugom Zhigpo[4] and a Thangka of Guru Rinpoche. On the left side of the Lhakhang is the altar of Sidrak Tsen[5] and other deities.


Historical background and Significance


People do not exactly know when and who built the Lhakhang, however Sibcha Lama Tshering Penjor believes that the Lhakhang was built around seventh century. It is believed to have been built as a part of the Tibean King Songtsen Gempo’s project of building 108 Lhakhangs in a single day across Tibet and Bhutan – of which two prominent Lhakhangs are Bumthang Jampa Lhakhang and Paro Kichu Lhakhang. When the Lhakhang was renovated, the main relic had to be renovated at the same time. However, the renovation of the relic was only from the front part but the back part bears the original style. It is said that the finishing part of the relics is not well-polished – because the work had to be hurried so as to complete the mission of building 108 Lhakhangs in a single day. Thus, the locals believe that the temple was erected in 7th century. Moreover, the Lhakhang’s entrance and the front part facing Tibet points out that it is built in the 7th century. So this Lhakhang is believed to be the oldest and the most sacred in Haa district.

In the olden days, the Lhakhang used to be looked after by the villagers of Nakha Tashigang in a turn wise basis. During those days, whenever the caretakers went to the Lhakhang for the daily offerings, it is believed that the beasts like tigers and bears would enter the Lhakhang and prevented the caretakers from doing their ritualistic chores. However, such dreadful and calamity did not happen when the forefathers of the Sibcha Lam lineage entered the temple. Thus, the villagers unanimously agreed to entrust the services of the temple to the lineage – this tradition is prevalent till this day.  Locals failed to ascertain and confirm the first lineage holder of the Sibcha Lam, however, the lineage holders known to them include: (1) Zhaw, (2) Pema Tshering, (3) Zheje, (4) Phurba Samdrup and (5) Tshering Penjor. Previously the Lhakhang used to be a community property, however, with the management done by the Sibcha Lam afterwards, the Lhakhang is presently owned by his Lineage.


Social and Cultural Functions

There are several rituals and Kuchoe Bumdeys organized in the Lhakhang, however, the most significant and sacred one is Phurpai Torjab organized by the Sibcha Lam or the temple owner which is for three days on the 12th month of Bhutanese calendar. The event in the olden days used to be in line with bon rituals and there used to be sacrifice of animals. However, the age old tradition of animal sacrifices came to an end upon the command of His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo to stop harming animals and sacrificing them for offerings. Hence, the event is organized by the Lam by offering meals and logistics during the event to the people gathered.

Previously, people of Nakha Tashigang used to organize Mani recitation from the 13th to 15th of the first month of the Bhutanese lunar calendar. However, this events coincide with annual festivals of Terji Goenpa and Mochu and the recitation was rescheduled from the 28th to 30th day of the same month. Two households from Nakha Tahsigang sponsor the whole event.

On the 10th day of the second and third month, and on the 4th day of the sixth month, people of the locality sponsor tshechus and festivals.

Similarly, during the plantation and harvest seasons, people offer their crops to the deities in the Lhakhang.  A grand offering is marked in the 8th month where the Sibcha Lam has to sponsor the meal and the drinks (from whatever people have offered to the Lhakhang as a gratitude to the deities) to the people.



  1. Tshering Penjor (Present Caretaker)
  2. Former Gup of Sangbeykha Gewog.


Sangay Thinley, Associate Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies


[1] The feudal ruler of one of the provinces of Bhutan in olden days, The first Paro Penlop is Tenzin Drukda.

[2]  Drungpa is also the pivot of all the program activities of the different sectors in the Drungkhag.


[3] Tsentogang is name of place which is located above the temple

[4] The Phajo Drugom Zhigpo is Tibetan Buddhist master who introduce the first Drukpa-Kagyud religion  in Bhutan in the 13th century. He travelled to the southern land (Bhutan) from Ralung, Tibet to propagate the teaching, as prophesized by Tsangpa Gyaray Yeshe Dorji.


[5] Local deity of Nakha Tashigang village.