Ngang Lhakhang


A bumpy 10km drive up the Chokhor valley from Thangbi Goemba is the small region known as Ngang-yul (Swan Land). The site was visited by Guru Rinpoche, but the present Ngang Lhakhang was built in the 15th century by Lama Namkha Samdrup, a contemporary of Pema Lingpa.

Despite the recently renovated exterior, the interior contains some lovely statues and paintings. The primary statue is of Guru Rinpoche, flanked by early Buddhist missionary Shantarakshita and Tibetan king Trisong Detsen. There is a mural of the Zhabdrung on the side wall opposite the altar and an image of Guru Rinpoche on a lotus surrounded by two duck-like swans.

The upper chapel is a goenkhang, with statues of the 'Tsela Nam Sum' trinity of Tsepame, Namse and Drolma, with Chenresig standing to the left. The statue of Guru Rinpoche to the right was fashioned by Pema Lingpa himself. Protector deities lurk in the shadows. Hanging from the rafters are masks used in the three-day Ngang Bi Rabney, a festival organised in the middle of the 10th month by the two main clans of the village in honour of the temple's founder.

It's possible to stay overnight at the rural Balakha Farmhouse, homestay accommodation right beside the lhakhang. Accommodation is simple, but you'll get a comfortable mattress on the floor, a shared organic meal with the family and a clean Western toilet. The friendly owners have looked after the lhakhang for generations.

A bridge over the Chamkhar Chhu means it's possible to drive up to the lhakhang, but it's a much nicer walk (of two hours) from Thangbi Goemba along the true left bank of the river. En route you can detour to explore the 17th-century ruins of Draphe (Drapham, or Damphel) Dzong, a 30-minute gentle uphill walk from Ngang Lhakhang.

The long day hike over the Phephe La (signed 'Febila') to Ogyen Chholing Palace in the Tang valley also begins here, on what is called the Bumthang Cultural Trail.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bhutan attractions

1. Shugdrak

3.48 MILES

To get well off the beaten track make the short 10-minute hike up to this sacred Guru Rinpoche cave, 2km past Thangbi. A series of ladders leads pilgrims…

2. Thangbi Goemba

4.43 MILES

Thangbi Goemba was founded in 1470 by Shamar Rinpoche and, after a dispute, was taken over by Pema Lingpa. The main chapel of the Dusum Sangay (past,…

3. Dorji Bi Lhakhang

4.77 MILES

Dorji Bi Lhakhang sits above an ancient, large white chorten. From here a dirt road descends to Tamshing Lhakhang via the turn-off to Pema Sambhava…

4. Manor House

4.83 MILES

Now mostly in ruins, this stately old house was built by relatives of the second king of Bhutan. New buildings being erected around it will house the…

5. Pema Sambhava Lhakhang

4.87 MILES

Along the dirt road north of Tamshing, a short steep climb above the valley floor leads to the small Pema Sambhava Lhakhang. The original lhakhang was…

6. Dorji Bi Weaving Centre

4.87 MILES

This crafts centre features around a dozen looms worked at by local women. There is a small attached shop selling woven cloth and textiles.

8. Do Zam

5.09 MILES

Do Zam is a natural formation said to be the remains of a stone bridge (hence 'zam') that was built by a goddess trying to meet Guru Rinpoche, but…