Bhutan | Bumthang

Tamshing Lhakhang

Embrace Bhutan Cultural Tour

Bumthang | Bhutan

13 Nov 2019 | Wed

Day 07 of 13

  • Drive | Jakar to Tang Valley
  • Jambay Lhakhang
  • Kurjey Lhakhang
  • Nature Walk to Tamshing Lhakhang – Swinging Bridge & Local Handcrafts
  • Tamshing Lhakhang
  • Lunch in Bumthang
  • Mebar Tsho – The Burning Lake
  • Pema Choling Nunnery
  • Ogyen Choling Manor and Museum

Tamshing Lhakhang

Tamshing Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Saint Pema Lingpa and containing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan.

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Tamshing Lhakhang, a major Nyingma monastery located in central Bhutan, was founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and completed in 1505. It is famous for its collections of paintings which exemplify the region’s style. Its mother monastery is Lhalung in central Tibet. It is one of the few institutions continuing the teachings of Pema Lingpa.

– Treasury of Lives Tamshing Lhakhang

Arrival, Entrance Area, and Passing Through Monk Quarters

After our short walk from Kurjey Lhakhang, we arrived at the entrance of Tamshing Lhakhang. Here we passed by the temple’s Chukor Mani, which translates into “Water Driven Prayers”.

The Chukor Mani at Kurjey Lhakhang (at the entrance) is a typical design structure shaped like a Bhutanese stupa but hollow and contains a large prayer wheel. It is built over (or near) a stream so that water turns a wooden turbine below the structure, which then turns the prayer wheel. So it is a water-driven prayer wheel inside.

In the past, almost all Bhutanes villages in Bumthang have a community Chukor Mani – where people fetch their water and wash their clothes.

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Chukor Mani at Entrance of Tamshing Lhakhang

After passing by the Chukor Mani, we entered the temple parking area out front of Tamshing Lhakhang. About halfway down, we entered into the inter-temple grounds. The section we walked through seemed to be the monk’s living quarters – a long C-shaped building that creates a large open courtyard area in front of Tamshing Lhakhang.

Looking At Monks Living Quarters Inside Inter Courtyard

Admiring Temple Design, Construction and Decorations

Looking at the outside of Tamshing Lhakhang, you can tell it is a very old structure. Built with what looks like small river stones, it’s painted white and decorated in a more low-key, muted decoration style (compared to other temples we had visited).

On the roof of the temple, there were a series of Bhutanese/Tibetan Buddhist iconography “banners”. Each has a different meaning and representation. I have covered these in their own post here.

Looking at the Left/Backside of Tamshing Lhakhang
Multi-Layered Rooflines

Inter Temple Courtyard

We entered into the small inter-temple courtyard through a simple but beautifully decorated wooden entryway. This courtyard area had more of the typical Bhutanese temple style and decoration (colorfully painted Bhutanese-styled wood trim and woven yellow and green patterned bamboo).

Beautiful Entry into Tamshing Lhakhang

Mural Paintings and Entering Temple

The walls on both sides of the entrance into Tamshing Lhakhang are covered with several beautiful mural paintings that date back to the early 1500s and include a portrait of Pema Lingpa.

Beautiful Mural Paintings Dating Back to the Early 1500s
Bhutanese Decoration Above Entrance to Tamshing Lhakhang

Monks Performing Buddhist Ceremony

Before we entered the temple, we were told that photography was not allowed. Once we entered, we walked around a corridor that travels around the inside of the temple. At first, it was quite dark, and it took a few minutes for our eyes to adjust. After taking a few turns, we reached an area where monks were performing a Buddhist ceremony. This area had a few small Buddhist altar rooms where we could observe what was taking place. After being inside and observing the ceremony for a short time, we felt that the temple gave off a unique positive feeling and vibe. It felt like there was something very special radiating from this place. It’s hard to explain, but it was something we both felt while being there.

Pema Lingpa Cloak of Chain Mail

On the way out of the temple, we walked around the outer walking corridor that travels around the inside of the temple. On the same side of the entrance, we came across the famous cloak of chain mail, made and blessed by Pema Lingpa. The chain mail was fairly heavy (weighs about 25 kg / 55 lbs). If one can hoist it onto your shoulders and circumambulate (walk around) the temple three times (around the inter chamber), it is considered to be an auspicious act that can cleanse all of one’s sins! I (Dean) did the three times, while Kanchana did it once. This was a unique experience and something we will never forget!

Dean Carrying Cloak of Chain Mail Around Temple (Three Times)

Yes, the above picture (taken by one of the members of our group) is blurry, but it’s one of my favorite pictures! It captures the essence and mystical spirits we felt while visiting this amazing temple.

Map – Tamshing Lhakhang

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