Druk Choeding Lhakhang

Build On: 1529 Category: Temple Address Paro

The temple is located in Tshongdu town in Paro. It is a two storied temple and it is under the Central Monastic Body.

While the founding of the temple corresponds with the visit of the Tibetan scholar Ngawang Chogyal to Bhutan, the earliest records suggest that the site was initially used as a meditation Center by Gyalchog, the brother of Gyalzom. The two claim descent from Dampa the son of Phajo Drugom Zhigpo. They are referred to as the Hungrel brothers or the Drung Drung. One of the brothers extended an invitation to Ngawang Chogyal who later built the temple.

Nawang Chogyal was born in Tibet and was serving as the 14th prince-abbot of Druk Ralung Sewa Jangchubling Monastery. A renowned scholar, he frequented Bhutan and with each visit he was able to strengthen his ties with the people of the areas that he visited and established religious centers many of which are still standing to this day.

His first visit to Bhutan was on a pilgrimage that he made in and around 1497. The visit was mainly centered on the holy shrines in western Bhutan. He visited the Taktshang monastery and spent four months in meditation and after realizing inexpressible qualities of clairvoyance returned to Tibet.

His second visit to Bhutan occurred at the invitation of Lam Gangtapa or Gyalzom of Paro, a descendant of Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo who was then residing in Gangtang Monastery at Paro. Besides the invitation extended to him, Nawang Chogyal was also offered a large estate by Lam Gyalzom around Gangtang Yulsar.

His third visit to Bhutan took place around 1518. This time his visit was concentrated mainly on visiting sacred places and other religious sites but he also began to establish religious centres of his own. He first founded the Samten Tsemo Monastery and began to preach to a large number of followers. The other establishments include the Thegchen Chekhor, Samten Chekhor, Dojathab, Druk Choskyong, Druk Chokhorgang, Druk Phodrangding, Dechen Chokhor, Chimi Lhakhang, Jiligang, Pangma lhakhang and Jazang Lhakhang.

It was however during his fifth visit to Bhutan that he founded the temple of Druk Choeding. The visit took place most probably in 1529. The temple was constructed with the support of his patron Gyalzom who first extended him an invitation to visit Bhutan. While the temple was founded during his fifth visit to Bhutan, it was during his sixth and final visit when he was fully able to complete the temple including the frescos and murals.

The temple was also visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1616 where it became his temporary residence. It was while residing here that Zhabdrung consecrated the temple and practiced meditation. The first Tibetan attack launched on Bhutan and against Zhabdrung also took place while he was residing in Druk Choeding.

During the time of the Penlops the courtyard of the temple was used as a place to store grain that was paid for by the people as taxes and hence was named as Nagtshang Lhakhang.
Renovations were undertaken by the government recently and the temple is frequented by visitors daily.

The main relic of the temple is the statue of Jowo Jampa (future Buddha). Besides this other statues are those of the founder Ngawang Chogyal, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the three Buddhas and Avaloketeshvara. They also have the Kanjur and Tenjur. A statue of the deity Jagpa Melan (guardian deity) is also placed in the main altar.

The temple observes many festivals. On the 1st day of the 7th month the Genyen Tendrel is performed and on other important dates performs the Nyungney (fasting ritual). They also perform Bumdey on the 1st day of the 3rd month. The Tibetan community in Paro also organize Kuchoe (death anniversary ritual) in honour of Gyalwang Lobzang Drakpa (Tshongkhapa), the founder of the Gelug school of Buddhism.

Source: Druk ge Ney- 1, FB

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